Going “green” in our everyday lives is all the rage these days. From CFL bulbs to organic cotton T-shirts, it seems everyone has some skin in the eco-game. Your family – and in particular your home – should be no different. Below are 15 easy do-it-yourself projects that will save you money, reduce your environmental footprint and have you playing your eco-part in no time.
1. As the cost of energy continues to rise, there is a way to lower your electric bills. Compact florescent light bulbs, or CFLs, use up to 66 percent less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs and can last up to five years. Replacing the five most-used bulbs in your home can save you up to $60 a year on your electric bill.
2. Your water heater can do a better job keeping the water in the tank hot if you buy it a jacket. Insulating jackets can be installed on most conventional water heaters and reduce the number of times a water heater “fires” during standby. In fact, 20 percent of your energy cost to heat water is used up during standby!
3. Fix that leak! Did you know that a dripping faucet or leaking toilet can waste up to 20 gallons of water a day? Repairing these leaks takes just a little time, and a small investment for the parts needed. The payback – both in dollars and for the environment – is huge!
4. Adding a rain barrel to your drainage system can help you capture some of the water Mother Nature sends us during rain showers. A 1,000 square foot roof can shed up to 650 gallons of water during a 1-inch rainfall. By placing a rain barrel under a down spout, you can use this water for your lawn, garden or even a car wash.
5. Plant a tree and reduce the carbon footprint of your home. To counteract the footprint from the use of electricity and natural gas or oil in the average American home, you would need to plant 42 trees… while that’s a lot of green, start slowly to help shade your home and absorb carbon dioxide from the air.
6. Using a ceiling fan can not only help you feel more comfortable in your home, both in the winter and the summer, it can also help to lower your energy bills. By circulating the air in your home, your furnace and air conditioner will run less, which means savings for you.
7. Cutting your lawn just got a lot greener with Earth-friendly mowers. Gas-powered mowers are terrific for larger lawns, but if you have a smaller space to take care of, an electric or new cordless mower can do the trick, and with no fuel or harmful emissions. Mother Nature will thank you!
8. Composting is a great way to reduce your waste and your impact on landfills. By collecting and placing compostable materials in a collection bin, you can create a super-charged natural fertilizer for your garden.
9. Natural cleaning products have come a long way. You now have a choice to use products that lessen their impact on the environment. Many of these new cleaning items have natural ingredients and use less water during shipping to reduce fuel use.
10. Tankless water heaters are here to stay, and are a viable choice when it comes to installing a new water heater in your home. Standby energy use is completely eliminated, and you will never run out of hot water from a properly-sized unit!
11. Reduce your usage. How many cups of water do you boil for a cup of tea? Do you leave the TV or lights on when you leave the room? Does the water run from the faucet when you brush your teeth? These small changes in your lifestyle can make a difference for all of us!
12. Did you know that almost 25 percent of water used in the home is for showers, and each member of a family of four taking a 5-minute shower can use up to 700 gallons a day? By installing low-flow shower heads, you can reduce that use by almost half, and with new technology, still feel a brisk force from the water.
13. Stop all the leaks in your home! Drafty windows and doors can greatly raise your energy consumption. According to the EPA, if you caulk or seal those air leaks with weatherstripping, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,000 pounds a year.
14. Let the sun shine! Not only will it brighten your mood, it will keep you from flipping the switch. In the colder months, the rays from the sun can help to heat your home, and the best part of this tip: it’s absolutely free!
15. Your indoor air is three times more polluted than the outdoor air. While painting is a great way to liven up your living environment, make sure you are not harming it during the process. Low VOC or zero VOC paints work just as well and are a great choice for those with allergies, asthma or homes with young children.
If you have any questions or comments for Lou, feel free to e-mail him at Asklou@acehardware.com