Many of us want to take steps to help our environment, but some aren’t sure where to start. Others feel going green is too big of an undertaking. The good news is, if we all make minor changes to go greener, we can make a big difference when it comes to reducing our overall human footprint. To celebrate Earth Day, Eagle Home Mortgage is suggesting some small tweaks to your home habits to make you feel fulfilled as well as help nourish our planet.
Did you know you can conduct a quick energy audit of your home? Use the audit to help single out appliances that are less energy-efficient. You can also ask your utility company if they offer green power as a way of supporting clean energy and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources. In addition, here are some small changes you can make to save energy around the house:
- Change your light bulbs to more energy-efficient bulbs where possible. Switching from incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient light bulbs will mean using almost 75% less energy.
- Unplug electronics when they aren’t being used. Idle power is a major energy consumer. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates this would prevent 44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution.
- Hang-dry your clothes rather than using your dryer. You can hang them in a low-traffic doorway on hangers, a drying rack, or use an old-fashioned clothesline in your yard when it’s sunny.
Don’t Waste Water
Water is not a renewable resource to us and it’s important to treat it as such. An average American family consisting of four people consumes up to 260 gallons of water around the home daily. Implement what you probably already know: try not stretch showers out for hours and avoid leaving the water running for the duration of brushing your teeth. Beyond the obvious, there are other ways you can conserve water:
- Fix leaky faucets, including the toilet and the sinks in your home. A faucet leaking a drop of water per second can add up to 165 gallons a month. The USGS has a calculator to show water waste from leaky faucets.
- Install a water cleaning system on your sink to avoid drinking from plastic bottles as they are usually not recycled. In the United States, about 35 million water bottles go into landfills every year and they can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
- When washing clothing, use the cold water or warm water setting on your washing machine. About 75 percent of the energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions associated with washing laundry are the result of your washing machine heating up the water.
Reduce Paper Usage
You probably know paper comes from trees, and trees are of the utmost importance to our environment. With so many forms of paperwork offered digitally these days, it’s easier than ever to reduce the amount of paper we use. Here are a few tricks to reduce paper usage:
- Pay all of your bills online and make managing your finances more convenient while saving paper.
- Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by opting out of credit-card offers, unwanted catalogues, and other junk mail.
- Take reusable grocery bags to the store with you to reduce the usage of paper and plastic in the form of disposable bags. While some believe paper bags are better than plastic for the environment, paper bags create more than twice as much atmospheric waste as plastic in landfills. Your best bet is to bring your own reusable bags.
Take it Outside
You can take going green beyond the walls of your home and into your outdoor area. You don’t need a sophisticated green thumb or tons of space to execute on some simple methods for going green in your yard:
- Plant a tree or many. Planting even one tree can make a serious positive impact on the environment. An average size tree produces enough oxygen in one year to keep a family of four breathing.
Fun fact: Houses surrounded by trees sell for 18-25 percent higher than houses with no trees. So, planting trees can increase your property value, too!
- Try rainwater harvesting, collecting rainwater and using it to water your lawns and garden. It is important to understand rainwater harvesting regulations within your state before going this route.
- Plant a veggie garden to grow your own organic veggies. Perfect for fresh meals and for reducing waste! Growing your own food helps prevent soil erosion, protects quality of ground water, saves energy, reduces pollution, and filters out carbon dioxide while supplying fresh oxygen.
Looking for another way you can help our environment that won’t take a ton of effort? Spread the word on going green! 77% of individuals want to learn more about sustainable lifestyles, so inform friends, family and neighbors about how simple it can be to reduce your footprint. We would love to hear how you are going greener in your home!