You don’t need to invest in creating a technologically “smart” home to help reduce your impact on your local community’s natural resources and the global environment. Using a variety of easy to implement tips and tricks, you can go green at home while saving some green, as well.
Get with the Programmable
You use lots of energy and waste lots of money heating and cooling your house when you’re asleep or at work. Programmable thermostats are affordable, and you can install them yourself. Just set the program once, and your heat will go down just before you get in bed, and rise back to your desired temperature just before you wake up in the morning. You can make sure your house is cool (or warm) when you get home from work, and a change in degrees won’t bother your kitty or pooch.
Water Your Lawn Better
Depending on your climate and the type of grass you have, you only need to water your lawn once each week, to a depth of about 1.5 inches. It’s actually better to water your lawn once each week for 20 minutes than it is to water it three times per week for 10 minutes. This is because the longer watering gets deeper into the ground, allowing your lawn’s roots to grow longer as they reach for that deeper water. Put a screwdriver or other object into your lawn after you water to check how deep your sprinkling reached, and use that to determine your weekly watering time.
When using your dishwasher or clothes washer, wait until you have full loads to decrease the amount of water and energy you use (fewer loads). Experiment with cold water on some laundry loads. Use the “normal wash” setting on your dishwasher (you might not even know you have one) and skip the heated drying. Look for environmentally friendly detergents.
Go With the Low Flow
Swap out your current shower heads and toilets with low flow options. You can save enough money on a low flow toilet to pay for the addition in three years or so, and pocket the rest of the savings for the remainder of the years you live in your home.
Check Your Water Heater
If you need to run cold water when you turn on the hot water to avoid scalding yourself, you can probably lower the thermostat on your hot water heater a few degrees. Aim for 120 degrees. Better yet, visit the website of your utility company – most have programs that give you a nice cash rebate when you replace your old water heater with an energy efficient one.
No Pane, No Gain
Open your curtains or drapes in rooms that have lots of sunlight, which can warm a room and decrease the gas heating you use in the winter. If you have drafty windows, buy a plastic sealing kit at your local home store, or increase the value of your home while reducing your utility bills by replacing your windows with energy smart windows. Invest in heavier curtains and keep them closed to reduce the amount of cold air that comes in if that’s a problem.
Change Your Bulbs
If you haven’t made the switch to energy efficient light bulbs, do it this weekend. While these bulbs cost much more than regular fluorescents, they cut your monthly energy bill and last for many years. Energy efficient holiday lights not only save you money, they can be safer, too, because they don’t get as hot.
Bonus Tip: Get Better Gas Mileage
Save money on gas and reduce your fossil fuel use with a few vehicle maintenance tips. Change your oil and air filter regularly, but not at 3,000 miles if you drive a newer car. You can go 6,000 miles or more if you drive a newer car and use synthetic oil. Buy an air pressure gauge and check your tires each month – you’ll get better mileage if they are inflated correctly.