Even if you’re not directly involved in the design or construction of your home, there are still ways that you can make it greener. By making small changes around the house—and on your commute and at work—you can reduce your carbon footprint by 20 percent or more over time. Here are some ways that people can do this:
Replace Incandescent Light Bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Ones
Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about one-quarter as much energy as incandescent light bulbs and last about 10 times longer. They are also less expensive than incandescent lights.
The problem with compact fluorescents is that they contain mercury, which makes them a hazard when disposed of improperly. If you can’t recycle the bulbs yourself, it’s best to take them back to the store where you purchased them (or contact the manufacturer), so they can be properly disposed of at no charge.
Install a Programmable Thermostat on Your Heating and Cooling Systems
Programmable thermostats control the temperature of your home or office. They allow you to set different temperatures at different times of day, and they can be adjusted remotely. These devices can also save money on heating and cooling costs by automatically switching off when no one is home.
Wash Clothes in Cold Water
Cold water is just as effective as hot water, so there’s no need to run the water any hotter than you need it.
Using cold water saves energy and money, which helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions and preventing landfills from overflowing with plastic bottles.
It’s better for your clothes—they don’t get shrunk or damaged like they might in hot temperatures!
Boost the Insulation in Your Attic and the Walls of Your House
Insulation is a key element in making a house more energy efficient. Adding insulation to your attic and walls can help keep heat in during winter months and cold air out during summer months.
Install Solar Panels on the Roof of Your House
Solar panels are a great way to reduce energy bills and make your house more environmentally friendly. However, solar panels do require an initial investment before they can start saving you money. If you don’t have the cash, it might be worth waiting until you can afford the investment before installing them.
Dispose of Paint, Batteries, Plastics and other Hazardous Materials in a Responsible Way
Don’t pour paint down the drain. This can cause a clog, and it’s not good for the environment. Instead, take old paint to your local hazardous waste disposal center or paint recycler (you can find one near you by searching online).
Don’t put batteries in the trash. Batteries contain toxic materials that may leak into soil and groundwater if disposed of properly. Instead, find out if your city offers a recycling program for batteries—if not, check with local retailers about their battery recycling policies and options.
Don’t put hazardous materials in your recycling bin or garbage can—they don’t belong there! A better solution is to take them to an e-waste drop-off site (where you’ll be able to recycle electronics responsibly) or ship them back to manufacturers for proper disposal/recycling, if possible, based on their instructions (some companies require proof that products were purchased from them).