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8 Tips to Make Your Home More Sustainable
8 Tips to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Becoming more sustainable is everyone’s responsibility. The reality of climate change means making better choices to maintain an inhabitable planet.
Going green starts where you hang your hat. Here are eight tips to make your home more sustainable.
1. Give VOCs a Pass
What are volatile organic compounds? According to the EPA, these are human-made chemicals used in manufacturing. Certain furniture items emit VOCs as gasses, decreasing the air quality of your home. These substances then enter the atmosphere, contributing to ozone depletion.
However, not all furniture is constructed equally. Some have lower concentrations of these harmful chemicals. They’re worth searching for to protect your family’s health and that of the planet. Look for the GreenGuard Gold Certification label, indicating that the item has a low VOC level, opting for solvent-based lacquers.
2. Switch to LEDs
You can save money and the planet by switching to LED bulbs. You might have to pay a higher sticker price at the store than incandescents. However, they’ll last nearly forever and drain far less energy, lowering your monthly utility bill. According to the Department of Energy, they last 25 times longer and use 75% less electricity.
That’s not the only benefit to switching. These bulbs come in every color imaginable, letting you set any mood you like — especially when you add a dimmer switch to the mix. Do moths drive you buggy when you sit on your patio at night? Try swapping your current bulb for a yellow LED, as the spectrum attracts fewer pests.
3. Embrace Passive Solar
Do you have south-facing windows? If they’re covered with heavy curtains, you’re not taking maximum advantage of passive solar heating. Although blackout versions might block sunlight on summer days, keeping you cooler, you should opt for breezier, translucent window coverings — if any at all — during the winter.
Additionally, adding insulation helps you take advantage of passive solar heat in the winter. Pay particular attention to your attic as heat rises. Reinforce areas around vents and windows, providing little to no avenue for escape.
Recycling is a fabulous way to reduce waste. However, it still takes energy to break down materials into their raw form for reuse. Your solution? Repurpose whatever you can before tossing it in the sorting bin.
For example, old toothbrushes work wonders on mold with a bit of baking soda and vinegar. Old paper towel and toilet paper rolls can hold hair ties, and barrettes and cans transform into pencil holders. Be mindful and pause, looking at items and asking, “what else could I use this for,” before tossing.
You can only transform so many empty 2-liter bottles into mosquito catchers before running out of space. Please recycle whenever possible when you can’t find a second use for an item.
Recycling snafus often occur when people don’t rinse their items or put things that don’t belong in the bins. Please know your jurisdiction. Many places only recycle numbers 1 and 2 plastics, for example. Other types clog the machines, sometimes resulting in costly repairs.
6. Adjust Your Thermostat
Your home’s heating and air conditioning use more energy than nearly any other appliances. Fortunately, you have some control over how much you expend, even if you rent and can’t upgrade to newer Energy Star models. All you have to do is adjust your thermostat.
Turning your thermostat up by one degree in the summer can save you 2% to 3% on your cooling bill. Doing the opposite in the winter likewise results in more cash in your pocket — and bigger benefits for the planet.
Ceiling fans can make you feel more comfortable while using far less power. Let them spin clockwise at a low speed during the winter to redirect rising heat throughout the room and reverse the direction in the summer, cranking up the speedometer for improved cooling.
Did you know that your home is infested with vampires? Don’t bother looking for coffins. Search your outlets instead. When you leave items plugged in, they draw energy even when you flip the off switch.
Your solution? Unplug. Use power strips to make it easier to switch off multiple items at once while protecting your electronics from surges.
8. Shop Smart
Have you ever cut your hand to shreds trying to open one of those sealed plastic envelopes that encompass far too many purchases these days? Spare yourself the pain and save bandaids by seeking products with as little packaging as possible.
Please take reusable bags when you shop. They’re much more convenient once you train your brain to remember them — you can do it. Yes, it’s annoying to make the walk of shame back to your car, but it creates a psychological imprint once you do it once or twice. Putting them over your wrist will become as habitual as grabbing your purse in no time. Cloth bags won’t break, spilling your eggs on the sidewalk and most places don’t recycle plastic bags despite collection bins.
Tips for a Sustainable Home
Stopping climate change is everyone’s responsibility. It all begins where you spend the most time — your abode.
Follow these eight tips for a more sustainable home. You’ll sleep better at night knowing you did your part to protect the planet.