Now more than ever is the right time to go green at home. You probably heard the news: 2014 was the hottest year on record. If each one of us does not make some sort of effort to reduce our carbon footprint the results for our children and grandchildren will be disastrous. Huge tidal waves. Droughts. An increasingly un-livable planet. I mean, let’s face it; the Mars One mission to colonize Mars is not feasible. What we need is short-term, simple steps to help us continue doing what we love on Planet Earth. Here are some steps we can take right now:
1. Buy Energy-Efficient Light-bulbs
The production of incandescent, inefficient bulbs has been phased out, so really at this point you don’t have a choice. Instead of waiting for your old light-bulbs to die or break, seize the moment to replace every incandescent bulb in your home with an energy-efficient alternative. There are several options available. The primary debate revolves around which is a better choice, LED or CFL. LED bulbs cost more at the outset, but they don’t contain mercury like CFL’s do, and they last longer. On average, a 15 watt CFL will cost $1.20 a year to power and will last 10,000 hours, while a 12 watt LED costs $1.00/year and will last 25,000 hours. Don’t want to leave the house because you’re too busy optimizing it for energy-efficiency? You can order either kind of bulb here.
2. Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
The temptation is to simply buy the standard, inexpensive supplies that “get the job done.” But the factories that make these supplies are part of the problem—they consume lots of fossil fuels and they don’t pay their employees enough for them to go green. Also, disposing containers generates more waste. Instead, take advantage of common, inexpensive goods. Lemon has acidic and antibacterial traits. You can mix lemon juice with salt to make a great sink-cleaner, or just soak the faucet in lemon juice and let it sit to loosen mineral deposits; to get rid of stains on garments, rub fresh-cut lemons on the stain and leave the clothing to soak in warm water for a couple of hours, then wash. Try using baking soda on counter-tops and in toilets; mix with vinegar for an especially strong cleaner. Try putting together some home-made laundry detergent: use one bar of shaved, organic bar-soap, a cup of borax, and a cup of washing soda. Stir for 5 minutes or so and put it to work!
3. Greenify and Optimize Wash Cycles
A good green practice is to wash whole loads, whether they’re loads of laundry or dishes. And use cold water when you can. About 90% of energy consumption from washing is a result of how much electricity it takes to heat the water. Air-dry your dishes and, if you have the space, hang your laundry out to dry on a clothes-line. If you’re going to ignore the earlier advice and buy laundry detergent (we only have so much time!), buy it in bulk and find the brand(s) with minimal packaging. Same goes for dishwasher detergent. If you’re buying detergents, make an effort to purchase products manufactured locally or find the ones manufactured closest to your home.
4. Head Towards the Light
Yes it makes sense to buy energy-efficient light-bulbs, but you should take advantage of natural light whenever possible. Use light-colored wall-paints to reflect natural light better in any room with windows. Avoid turning on lights in your home whenever you can and turn them off whenever you leave the room. Put your favorite reading-recliner and your office-desk beneath windows.
5. Minimize Appliance Power-usage
Plug appliances into a power strip, and when you’re not using them, turn the power strip off. Or, just unplug appliances when you’re not using them. When you’re buying appliances, consider buying from companies that partner with Energy Star to offer rebates, a list of which you can find here. Take advantage of your computer’s power-saving mode, and, if you’d like a free way to analyze your computer’s power usage, download Miscrosoft’s Joulemeter.
These are just some of the ways you can easily go green at home. Do you have any other suggestions, tips or tricks for greening the home-space?