Today's guest post is brought to us by Amy at environment911.org. Environment911.org is an interactive website for individuals to come and discuss the environment from green business to natural disasters. We feel it is important for people to come together and share their thoughts, ideas and visions for the future. The more we can communicate what is happening in our world, the more people can be educated and the more we can progress. Beyond Environment911.org you can find us on Facebook and Twitter where we are continuing to spread the message about our global environment and the impact that we have on it every day.
When we talk about the environment, we associate sustainability, carbon footprints and pollution to the ever pressing concerns. While there are many ways that we can reduce our negative impacts on the environment in all areas of our life, the first and foremost way to help the environment starts at home.
For those of you who are building your own home, it is important to consider sustainability at every step. While eco-friendly options can cost more in the beginning, they will not only save you money in the end, but will also help you to reduce your impact on our environment, which is worth its weight in gold.
If you’re building from the ground up, here are some things to consider when designing and building your home:
- Choose recycled or natural materials whenever possible during the construction of your home, including purchasing furniture made from recycled materials.
- Insulate your loft, attic and cavity walls as insulation helps to heat the home in the winter and cool it in the summer. This will make your home much more energy efficient.
- Use water based paints vs. oil based paints in your home. You may not think it has an effect, but oil-based paints are actually less energy-efficient and more toxic.
- Install double or triple-glazed windows. The energy savings are well worth the initial cost or the time spent replacing old single-glazed windows.
- Use locally sourced supplies and labor. It sounds simple enough, but it is often underestimated how much of a difference it can make when you purchase locally, not just to help sustain your community, but also to reduce the pollution required to get the product to you.
|Credit: Central California Green Construction (CCGC)|
Now, once the house is built, or for those of you who already have a roof over your head, there are many things that you can do within the home to reduce your carbon footprint, even if you don’t have a sustainable building.
- Conserve water whenever possible. You can do this in many ways throughout your home and even get kids involved in the process. Some of the easiest ways to conserve water are to take short showers, install low-flow toilets or shower heads, ensure the dishwasher and laundry machines are full before turning them on and not leaving the water running while you brush your teeth.
- Shut off all lights, appliances and electronics when not in use. Although you don’t necessarily realize it, even a small bulb takes a lot of energy, especially when it is not an energy saving version. When you leave those on all day, regardless of whether you’re in the room or not, you are upping your energy consumption. The same can be said for leaving appliances and electronics plugged in. Just because they are not in active use, doesn’t mean that they aren’t draining energy.
- Switch to energy-saving products. In follow up to the previous point, you can further your energy-savings by switching to energy-saving bulbs or appliances throughout your home when it is time to upgrade.
- Adjust your thermostat. Research shows that by increasing the temperature in your home by two degrees in the Summer and decreasing it by two degrees in the Winter can provide major cost savings as your heating/cooling systems don’t have to work as hard to maintain a lower/higher temperature. Thereby, saving you cash in the long run.
- Get an Energy Audit. Just because you aren’t aware of how much energy your home uses on a daily basis, is not an excuse not to live more sustainable. Do yourself (and your checkbook) a favor by getting an energy-audit to see how efficient your home is and get suggestions for the areas you can improve on.
By following these energy-saving tips, you can not only sleep better at night knowing you’re doing your part to help the environment, but also knowing that your energy bill won’t come as such a shock next time! Remember, that in saving the environment, you also save money and we all like saving money.