There are plenty of little steps that people can take at home to help save the environment. While the eco-footprint of each step is small, thousands of people doing the same thing can make a difference. In making some small changes to the way that you do things at home, you are gradually making a difference, even as an individual. You will kill costs and improve your health at the same time, so helping to save the environment isn’t a totally altruistic exercise!
Turn off appliances when you are not using them. Up to 30% of power used by TV’s is used while they are turned off, so buy power strips and just flip the switch on the power strip, because they use far less energy while turned off.
2. Lower the thermostat by a few degrees in winter. An extra layer or blanket will not only keep you cozy but will help to reduce your electricity bill significantly.
3. Make sure that the house is fully insulated.
Make sure that the house is fully insulated. Insulation keeps the heat and cool on the correct side of your living space. Consider not only the ceiling but also the walls and under the floors.
4. Use windows to regulate the temperature.
Keep windows and doors closed properly to avoid the loss of heat in winter.
Open the windows in summer. The cross breeze will often keep you cool and flushes out stale air (indoor air is often more highly polluted than the air outside). Importantly, the use of fresh air to cycle through your home saves the cost of running an air conditioner.
Install ceiling fans instead of air conditioning units to keep rooms comfortable in warm weather.
6. Fill the gaps. Gaps reduce energy efficiency in a home. By caulking gaps around windows and doors, you increase the ability of your house to retain heat and cool at the right times of year, allowing your heating and cooling systems to work less.
7.Switch to compound fluorescent lightbulbs. They last longer and consume one-quarter of the energy. Lately, LED lamps have started to pick up the pace too — they are up to ten times as effective as fluorescent, and totally blow incandescent bulbs off the charts.
8. Turn off the lights. Always turn off the lights when you are not using them. Rooms that are lit with nobody in them are wasteful.
In the Kitchen
Recycle, recycle, recycle. Some cities already require people to sort their trash into paper, metals, glass, and organic waste. Even if your city doesn’t, you can launch a growing trend. Set up four separate waste baskets, and make sure the contents end up in the appropriate recycle bins.
10. Air dry your dishes. Stop the dishwasher before the dryer cycle commences. Leave the door slightly ajar (or more open if you have the space) and let the dishes air-dry. The drying cycle of the dishwasher consumes a lot of energy.
Avoid Creating Trash. Avoid disposable products, such as plates, cups, napkins and cutlery. Use reusable towels and dishwashing cloths in place of paper towels and disposable dish sponges
12. Update your refrigerator. Fridges are the most energy intensive appliance in a house. This means that a poorly maintained and energy inefficient fridge is costing you money, let alone adding its burden to the atmosphere. Recent fridges use 40% less energy than fridges of 10 years ago. If you do decide to upgrade the fridge, make sure that you buy for its excellent energy rating, longevity and durability and that you have the old fridge recycled.
In the Bathroom & Laundry
Prefer showers over baths. Showers use less water. Don’t forget to install an efficient showerhead.
14. Use soaps and detergents that contain no phosphates. Use a mixture of water and vinegar to wash your windows. Wash clothes in cold water to avoid consuming energy to heat the water. On sunny days, use a clothes line instead of a clothes dryer. Your clothes will smell fresher and the sun’s rays ensure that germs are successfully sizzled.
15. Install low-flush toilets in your home. These use 1.6 gallons per flush, instead of 3.5 gallons, cutting water consumption by more than half.
16. For the ladies out there, consider using cloth (as in, reusable) tampons and pads, or using a menstrual cup. It may seem gross, but it can’t be grosser than the thought of the amount of pads and tampons women use yearly piled up in a landfill, now can’t it?
Use recycled paper in your home office and printer. Double side your printing and give scrap paper to the kids or turn it into note paper for the phone table.
18 . Turn off the computer every day. Even if it feels like it is not making much of a difference, it is. You also reduce any risks of overheating or shortcircuiting by turning computers off overnight.
In the Garage
Leave the car at home. Let the car contribute less to the atmosphere by resting at home whenever possible. Walk to your local stores, take public transport to work and cycle to your friends’ houses for dinner. Join a car pool and ferry others to work rather than driving in alone. You’ll make new friends and you’ll all share the costs
19 . Buy a fuel-efficient car if you are changing cars. Choose a compact car over an SUV. SUVs burn almost twice the amount of gas as a station wagon and yet can still carry around the same amount of passengers.
20 . If you’re really serious about going all-out green, consider living without a car — not only it’s green, but could also save you a lot of money!
21 . Keep your bike well maintained. Take away at least one excuse that you cannot use your bike because it is in bad shape. Keep it in shape and then use it to keep yourself in shape.
22. Dispose of workshop items with care. Old paints, oils, pesticides etc. should not be tipped down the drain – the residues end up in our waterways. Dispose of these items through municipal disposal schemes or use the landfill option if there is no other choice.
Plant native species. They need less watering, are hardier (hence, less products needed to protect them) and they attract the local wildlife.
24. Plant trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and provide shade. They provide homes for wildlife and some trees can provide you with a bountiful harvest. What more incentive do you need?!
25. Reduce the lawn. Either reduce your lawn size or remove it altogether. Lawns are costly to maintain, the chemicals used on lawns are dangerous to our health and to that of the surrounding wildlife and lawnmowers emit high levels of pollution. Replace lawns with shrubs, ornamental garden structures, pavers for entertainment areas, native grasses and ground creepers etc. In addition, what’s better than being able to step outside and pick a few strawberries or an ear of corn? Increase your own resilience by converting wasted lawn space into a vegetable garden. Consider using drip-irrigation systems or constructing or purchasing a rain barrel (it saves you having to pay to pump water back into the ground).
26. Compost. Compost the kitchen scraps and create beautiful garden matter to encourage better plant growth. Make sure the heap is warm and well-turned. Read a few books about composting. It’s rare to find someone highly skilled in the area! Remember, soil is a living thing, it should not be powdery and dead. Life comes from the soil, and therefore the soil should be kept alive. Avoid highly invasive tilling if at all possible, but be sure to keep the soil aerated.
27. Measure your eco-footprint online. There are many sites that offer this. Once it is measured, see what you can do to reduce your home’s impact on the environment.
28. If you or someone you know doesn’t see the “point” of doing these things, watch or show him or her a movie like An Inconvenient Truth, Who Killed the Electric Car?, and The Day After Tomorrow to show them the effects of what will happen if we don’t work to save our environment.
29. Reduce your waste before recycling! Buy loose products and minimise packaging on the products you buy at the shops. Take a reusable bag with you.
30. Rather than buy a printed book consider the library, a book swap or if you want to purchase, purchase an eBook. Try EcoBrain.com for eBooks on green living and environmental education.