Inside and out, there are many ways your household can go green this year.
We usually avoid audits at all costs. But, a green audit is a good one to experience! Home energy audits can evaluate where your home is lacking efficiency and can offer suggestions for improvements.
An energy auditor surveys specific elements of your house:
- HVAC system
The auditor will look for drafts, how much energy your appliances consume, and offer suggestions for improvements. If you want to follow through on the actionable steps, you should save your receipts to show proof of work completed.
After your upgrades are completed, the auditor will follow up with you and determine if you’re eligible for refunds via incentive programs in your area.
You can also perform your own home energy audits, and apply for rebates when you purchase appliances, windows, or doors with Energy Star ratings. It’s not only a great way to save money in the long run but to reduce your environmental impact.
Wise Up About Water
An energy audit can help you conserve water usage inside by recommending slow flow faucets, more efficient toilets, and tankless water heaters. But what about your outdoor water usage? Even if you have a sprawling yard with a variety of vegetation, you can still improve your outdoor watering habits.
For starters, Utah lawn care company Lawngevity has a blog article HERE about caring for your lawn during a drought. These recommendations not only help your yard survive during times of conservation but can teach your grass to be resilient year-round. The basic tenet is that the less you water your lawn, the harder it will work to grow strong roots and search for water below the surface.
You can also teach your other plants to be hardier with adjusted watering schedules over time. Consider the order of importance, as stated by Lawngevity, when it comes to doling out drops:
Even if you’re not living during a time of drought, or in a dry climate, you can go green on your property by collecting rainwater, installing a timer on your existing watering system, and ensuring you’re watering in ideal conditions.
- Water between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m.
- Don’t water when it’s windy
- Use a weather sensor to prevent your system from watering when it has rained
Being more conscious of how you’re using water is the first step toward making a change.
Rethink Your Waste
Along the same lines of water conservation, if you can be more aware of how you’re disposing of waste in your home, you can have a positive impact on the environment. While some companies, like Western Elite, go the extra mile to separate waste products from recyclable materials in their dumpsters, not all facilities are equipped to do so.
Typically, if you mix your recyclables with waste materials in your curbside recycling bin, everything will end up in the landfill. Most municipal recycling plants don’t have the manpower or the time to sift through waste to determine if everything is clean or properly sorted. As a result, some recycling efforts aren’t always successful. So, how can you put forth a bit more effort to give your recyclables new life?
How to Recycle More Efficiently
First of all, do your research. Based on where you live, certain items may not be permitted in your curbside recycling bin. There may be local recycling facilities that accept different materials for drop-off in order to supplement your curbside recycling efforts. Once you have that sorted, you can implement the following steps for recycling more efficiently.
- Know What to Throw (away) – Never include plastic sacks, containers with food residue, anything liquid, clothing, electronics, or styrofoam in your recycling bin.
- Double Up – For every trash receptacle in your home or office, include a recycling bin next to it.
- Empty Everything – Clean and dry everything you intend to recycle.
- Don’t Bag Anything – All your recyclables should be binned freely; nothing should be bagged.
Another action step to take is to limit consumption of single-use items, whether they’re recyclable or not. There are numerous household items you can swap out for something with more staying power, such as:
- Cloth bags for plastic
- Glass or metal water bottles instead of plastic
- Beeswax wrappers instead of plastic
And, finally, the closer to home you can shop, the better. Buying locally, whether it’s food, clothing, or home goods, reduces the amount of energy used to produce, transport, and distribute goods around the world. Sometimes purchasing something for your home that’s brand-new is necessary, but other times you can reduce waste by purchasing used. Consider that next time you need to replace an appliance, an item in your wardrobe, or equipment for working in your yard.
Use Sustainable Materials
In addition to reducing waste, you can also purchase more sustainable items in the first place. There are some building materials that are less taxing to produce and harvest than others. The following are some to consider the next time you’re building new, or remodeling your home:
This type of wood is considered sustainable because it grows so quickly; bamboo only needs three years to grow before being harvested, compared to about 25 years for other types of trees. Bamboo is durable, versatile, and looks good to boot.
These synthetic shingles can be made to resemble cedar shakes or slate, but they’re more affordable and made of recycled materials. Being made of rubber and plastic, they also have a longer lifespan than asphalt or wood shingles.
Not only is glass a 100% recyclable material, but it’s also a beautiful one. It can be used for creating functional and on-trend spaces throughout your home. From custom cabinetry and mirrors to shower surrounds and energy-efficient windows, glass is a sustainable and affordable building material. Kitchen and bathroom trends for 2022 will continue to include glass, so you don’t have to worry about your home feeling dated any time soon.
Traditional insulation is known to emit significant amounts of greenhouse gasses. Alternatives such as mineral wool, hemp, cotton, or fiberglass are more eco-friendly and can even perform better in comparison.
Harnessing solar energy to power your home is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Whether you complement grid power or replace it completely, solar panels are an efficient source of energy that helps you go green.
As always, it’s the small steps that add up to big results. You don’t have to take the plunge and force yourself to implement all these suggestions at once. Simply pick the ones that don’t overwhelm you and gradually add others throughout the year.