Green homes, going green, thinking green … aren't just fuzzy concepts we can ignore. Our world is a huge bowl of natural resources and when they're used up, things that aren't sustainable like bamboo or locally harvested hardwood, won't be there for our children.
With world population growth (2.5 billion people in 1950, 6.5 billion in 2005 and more than 9 billion in 2050), we need to take action now to conserve the earth's resources. Today many people realize energy is a critical resource and pretty soon we'll start to learn that fresh water is limited too. Learn small steps you can take today, to protect the future for this little guy!
What Going Green Means?
Green can feel overwhelming so it's best to start with small steps. According to Marla Esser, founder of HomeNav.com, “Homeowners can start by taking small steps to green their homes. You don't need to do anything special — it's really something you integrate into your normal housekeeping and home maintenance activities. Green is a way of thinking, buying smarter, more resource and energy efficient products, and using them correctly.Like reading food labels, you want to study the labels on cleaning and other household products. When you buy a rug or sofa, you want to make sure they don't contain chemicals that are harmful to your family.”
Marla is a green advocate in the National Association of Home Builders. She created HomeNav, an electronic home owner manual that helps homeowners integrate all their home maintenance information in one place.
Green Homes Use Less Energy
- Install programmable thermostat(s) to save on heating and cooling costs. You can set the thermostat to automatically lower (winter) or raise (summer) the temperature when you're not home or asleep.
- Stop energy leaks by stopping the flow of conditioned (warmed or cooled) air. Attics are a top priority for added insulation. Gaps should be closed around exterior doors and windows, interior doors to unconditioned spaces (attics and basements), ductwork, electrical switches/outlets on exterior walls, etc.
- Switch to CFL bulbs which use 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. You'll need to recycle CFLs due to mercury content (Home Depot has a CFL recycling program).
- Use solar landscape lighting and motion detectors for overhead lights, i.e. on your garage.
Green Homes Use Less Water
- Replace shower heads with low flow heads to reduce your water consumption by 20,000 gallons or more. There are aerators you can install in most faucets to save water too. Remember you don't need to run the water while brushing your teeth or rinsing the dishes.
- Install low or dual flush toilets that can save more than 3 gallons per flush. Unlike the original dual flush toilets, the ones available today look the same and sound the same, so think green when replacing your toilets.
- Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when full. Consider drying your dishes on a dish rack and hanging wet clothes on an old fashion clothes line -- they'll smell good too!
- Fix those plumbing leaks quickly as a dripping faucet can waste more than 200 gallons a month and a running toilet even more. Better still, you'll avoid expensive repairs due to mold and wood rot which happens when the moisture content of wood (your sub-floor) approaches 20%.
Green Homes For Healthier Indoor Air
- Avoid products that give off Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). There are many low and no VOC paints available and you'll like that they don't smell. Check other products like flooring, wall treatments and furnishings that give off VOCs.
- Use green plants to filter out common VOCs. 5 common plants were compiled during NASA testing in the late 1980s so you won't mind watering a ficus or spider plant. Get the How the Best Home Air Filter Can Save You Money.
- Buying the right air filter(s) for your home can be confusing, so check out our article, How the Best Home Air Filter Can Save You Money.
- Clean air ducts and change filters frequently (1 to 3 months) so theses systems perform optimally to keep your family healthy. You can learn how to find where your air filter lives in the video below.
Green Homes Recycle More & Buy Less
We're consumers so we buy lots of stuff. We can become smarter consumers by rethinking what we need, buying smarter products and when we're done, recycling to reduce what we add to today's landfills. When buying appliances, look for the Energy Star label. When buying paper goods, consider at least 2 alternatives to accomplish the same goal.