For years, decades, centuries and millennia we were taking away precious things from our planet without giving anything in return. During the last couple of years, it finally seems that humanity became more aware of the need to preserve Earth’s resources and treat our habitat better, and if you want to be the part of the change, there is no better place to start than your own home. Unfortunately, some “green” projects can really take a toll on your budget. However, there are also some things you can change on a shoestring budget.
Reduce the amount of waste your household is producing
Did you know that an average American produces enough waste to “build” the Tower of Pisa on a daily basis? Things are not looking much brighter in Australia, with an average family wasting slightly more than that each day. What can you do? Don’t be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution. Sort out your rubbish in three categories: reusable, recyclable and disposable. Glass jars and bottles can be reused and some clothing stores will give you a discount if you give them your old clothes.
Use government incentives
As we already mentioned, eco-friendly projects can be very expensive, but depending on where you live, your government may have some special incentives for going green. For example, in the U.S. you have The Federal Energy Management Program‘s (FEMP) Energy Incentive Program which can provide all the information you need about project funding. The Department of Energy and Environment in Australia offers a range of funding opportunities for solar upgrades, renewable energy and emissions reduction. The government of Canada also offers similar incentives, just like many others.
To waste or not to waste?
We are hearing a lot of good things about Energy Star rated products, especially appliances which are wasting far less energy than older models. However, the Earth has a bigger problem with piled up waste than with energy-efficiency. So, if you have some old appliances, especially some produced by a trustworthy brand, it is better to hold on to them until they break beyond repair. For example, repairing AEG appliances makes much more sense than throwing them away at the first sign of a problem.
Change the lighting
While some energy-efficient upgrades may cost literally a fortune, replacing the old incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFL) or LED bulbs, is quite affordable, and most importantly, cost-efficient. This small change can cut your energy bills by up to 80%. Besides, these energy-efficient bulbs last much longer than the energy vampires we more often call incandescent bulbs.
Keep the warm/cool in
Regardless of the part of the world you live in, heating and cooling bills can account for a large portion of your household expenses. Apart from the size of the house, climate, and fuel, heating costs also depend on the insulation. If your house isn’t properly insulated you are probably losing a lot of heated/cooled air during the heating/cooling period. If you can’t afford to insulate your entire home for now, focus your attention on the attic, fix draughty doors and windows and seal any cracks in the walls.
Everything you can make or repair by yourself saves you money (if you know how to do it right). This includes repainting your kitchen cabinets (with a paint that doesn’t contain VOCs), reupholstering chairs (with eco-friendly textiles) and repurposing old furniture pieces (e.g. a wooden chest into a coffee table). But the DIY doesn’t stop here. Instead of using conventional household cleaning products which can contain a lot of toxic chemicals, you can make your own cleaning combinations like these floor cleaning recipes with some affordable items you already have in your kitchen, such as baking soda, tea tree oil, and vinegar.
Making your house more eco-friendly and energy-efficient is not only good for the planet we inhabit, it is also good for your health and your utility bills. These were just some small steps you can take in that direction, but you can take your greening up much further with more demanding home improvement projects.