(guest post by Anisha Sekar)
Every day, we’re directed to recycle, through radio, advertisements, and even local and federal governments. Perhaps many of us no longer take it seriously; hey, we hear it every day, so who cares, right? Wrong. Each one of us has a duty towards the environment, and there are countless things we can do to fulfill that responsibility. Okay then, so where to start? No need to look very far, start “going green” in your very own home.
Here are 5 simple things you can do to lower your bills and your carbon footprint.
Appliance use comprises 18% of your energy bill, while the energy used by a refrigerator can comprise over 80% of that. Got a refrigerator that you don’t really need sitting in the garage? Get rid of it! You could save $150 a year. If any of your appliances are over ten years old, replace them with new energy-efficient appliances, which use 10-15% less energy than a standard model.
Washers and dryers also use a considerable amount of energy, second only to your refrigerator; so again, if you have an old machine, it’s time to switch it out. If you’re trying to decide which kind of machine to buy, settle on a front load washer—it uses less water, detergent and heat, going easy on the environment and your wallet. Other little things you can do to reduce your appliances’ impact include turning down the temperature of your water heater to 120oF, wash your clothes in cold water, air dry your clothes during the summer (cut 100% of the energy used by your dryer!), and simply turn off the lights you don’t need.
Going green temperature-wise is at your fingertips—during the summer, set your thermostat at 78oF, and during the winter, set it at 68oF: each degree lower during cold weather will save you 3-5% on your energy bill. Also, make sure your walls are properly insulated, and add insulation to your attic if it doesn’t already have it, and be sure to avoid air leaks. Air leaks are equivalent to leaving your window open on cold day, so be sure to have them sealed!
Another thing: if you’re lucky enough to have the option, try to make sure your windows face south to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. During the summer, sunlight would come in through the east and west windows, thereby unnecessarily warming your home, while during the winter sunlight will come in through the south-facing windows, thus warming your home and reducing your heating bill.
The average household uses an astonishing 127,400 gallons of water every year! Toilets themselves comprise over one-fourth of the indoor home water use. Replacing standard toilets with energy-efficient ones would reduce that number to 10%! Standard toilets use 15 gallons of water per flush, while a low-flow toilet would use 1.6 gallons max. Another thing to consider doing is installing an aerator in your faucets and showerheads, cutting your water consumption by half. An aerator mixes air with the water, reducing the amount of water used while also increasing the perceived water pressure.
4. Energy usage
Start using CFL bulbs instead of the standard incandescent light bulbs. Though CFLs cost more, they last ten times longer and use 75% less energy, saving you money in the long run. If you have the financial capacity, consider switching to clean, renewable energy, such as solar, wind, or hydroelectric. This way we can reduce dependence on coal-burning power plants, while opting for a clean and free energy, which will reduce the size of our electricity bill.
Another simple thing to do, which most people don’t do, is to unplug our household appliances. Rather than pulling the plugs on the blender, toaster, coffeemaker and juicer every morning, group your appliances by what time of day you use them and plug members of each group into their own power strip. That way, you only have to flip one switch.
5. Toxic chemicals
Consumers themselves have no idea about how many hazardous chemicals we use in our household. Begin by buying only organic foods at the supermarket, keep those pesticides out of your system. Also, use natural cleaning methods rather than conventional cleaning products. For example, use white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to clean your countertops—they kill 99% of bacteria and cost next to nothing. Out in your garden, use compost instead of industrial fertilizers. Chemicals used in your garden seep into the groundwater system, contaminating our potential drinking water.
Greening our homes doesn’t just increase property values and help save money. It also creates a healthy environment for our children, ourselves and our planet.
This post comes fromNerdWallet.com, a consumer-focused, analysis-driven decision website.
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