Going green is going mainstream as awareness of our environmental woes is increasing. It is not just hardcore environmentalists anymore who is showing concern for the planet, but average citizens as well. When we think of going green in the home, expensive fixes may come to mind, such as installing solar panels or costly remodels consisting of more eco-friendly materials; but, there are plenty of ways to do your part without spending a lot of money; many of these tips will not only be good for the planet, they will be good for your wallet as well, so do not delay! It is important to remember that when it comes to being greener, the little things can go a long way in making positive change.
Going Green tip 1: Change Your Light Bulbs
Traditional incandescent bulbs are major energy drains and considering that lighting can account for up between 10 and 25 percent of your energy bill, it makes sense to switch to lights that use precious electricity more efficiently. CFL and LED lights are a much better choice—they can last years longer than regular bulbs and use a fraction of the energy. Did you know that simply replacing one traditional bulb with a CFL bulb will reduce CO2 emissions by half a ton over the life of the bulb? These bulbs have improved greatly over the years and offer the same type of lighting as traditional bulbs, rather than the more harsh lighting they are associated with. These bulbs are more costly initially, but you will reap savings many times over with lower electric bills.
Going Green tip 2: Install a Programmable Thermostat
Heating and cooling accounts for a major portion of our energy use—up to 40 percent — and most of us are far from being efficient with it; we leave the heat or air on all day even when we are not home because we want to come home to a comfortable temperature; we fall asleep before forgetting to adjust the thermostat and it is running at full power even though we do not need it to be. Not only is this bad for the environment, we are throwing money away every month when our energy bill makes an appearance.
A programmable thermostat lets you do just that…program the temperature in your home for different days, different times of day and other factors. Most models allow for a different schedule for each day of the week, making it easy to set each day according to your needs. You can save up to 15 percent or more on energy bills with this one simple fix. Some utility companies or local governments may offer rebates or incentives for installing this eco-friendly device so check on that to see if this is available in your area.
Going Green tip 3: Increasing Water Efficiency
Like electricity, we are grossly wasteful with our water use; we take this precious resource for granted, but more than 36 states are predicted to face water shortages over the coming 5 years. There are several easy fixes to cut back on water use dramatically. Install aerators in your faucets—this inexpensive product cuts down on water use by increasing the amount of oxygen mixed in; do not worry though, it does not affect water pressure. This simple fix can reduce the average household’s water usage by over 1,700 gallons per year. If you already have aerators, but have a flow rate of greater than 2.75 gallons per minutes, consider upgrading to a more efficient model. They only cost about 10 dollars and installation is a piece of cake—you simply screw it onto the faucet.
Low-flow showerheads are another easy fix that can add up to big time savings when it comes to water use and your water bill. This one fix can reduce your water use by a whopping 40 percent. Look for models that dispense 2 gallons or fewer per minute. While older models often meant sacrificing pressure, this is not the case with current products.
Kelli Cooper, writing for Accent Building Products, is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about all things green living, especially sharing inexpensive ways to be more eco-friendly.