By Christine H. The more you read, the more you learn our modern habits disrupt natural processes. From the energy you consume in your home to your driving habits to what you buy at the grocery store, there are a hundred different ways that you can better limit your environmental impact. Many of these changes feel like large undertakings–changing to solar energy, for example. However, there are also a lot of little changes that you can make in your home–just once–to reduce the amount of energy that you use each day without changing anything at all in your daily habits.
So if you have a moment to check a few simple items off of your to-do list, read through the article below and pick one or two things that you can do today to go a little greener at home.
- Bottle in the Toilet Tank: Each person uses 80-100 gallons of water a day, and the vast majority of that water usage is in toilet flushes. That’s why reducing the amount of water used with each flush going to be such a significant way to reduce your water bill. And a quick way to do that is to add a bottle in your toilet tank. This simply makes it so that your tank registers as full when it has about a liter less. To do this, fill an old soda bottle with water, twist the lid back on, and stick it in the tank. Note that this is especially useful for old toilets that use excess water. However, if you have a new tank (that uses 1.6 gallons or less per flush) then you won’t want to use this method. It could interrupt the functionality. However, you can still increase how efficient your water usage is by making sure that the flapper and float are working properly. (See here for tips.)
- Weather-Strip the Doors: The vast majority of a home’s energy usage goes to temperature regulation. Whether you’re countering winter’s chill, or creating a cool haven from the summer sun, your home is constantly working to keep your home a comfortable temperature to eat, sleep, and play. However, if you don’t have measures in place to retain the proper temperature, you could be wasting up to 50% of your energy usage. Insulation in the walls and roof are important. But one of biggest ways that heat and cool escape your home is through the cracks under and around doors. The good news is that it’s an easy under-an-hour project to weather-proof your door. Just buy some weather-stripping at the hardware store. Installing it is as easy as placing a (really long) sticker. If your door has a bit of a gap at the bottom, you should also think about installing a bottom sweep, which will also reduce the amount of pests that can get into your home.
- Eliminate Phantom Energy Drain: Did you know that phantom energy drain costs up to 100$ per year in energy bills? This is the term used for energy drain that happens when electrical appliances and machines are plugged in, even though they’re currently off and just on standby mode. That means that even when your microwave isn’t in use, it’s still draining a little bit of electricity out of the walls as long as it’s plugged in. Each minute, the amount of electricity used is negligible, but between all the things plugged in in your home, day after day, it adds up. You can reduce phantom energy drain each day by unplugging things when they’re not in use (especially laptop and phone chargers.) However, you can also institute a one-time solution, if you have a hard time remembering to unplug. Install a couple of power strips in your home–especially around the entertainment center, the desktop computer, and in the kitchen. Turn off the whole power strip when it’s not in use, and you’ve suddenly cut phantom drain in half, at least. Power strips aren’t all that expensive, and if you use some zip ties or sticky velcro, you can usually find an unobtrusive spot for them. Again, this project will take you under an hour.
- Garden Greener: If you like to garden, that’s wonderful! However, it can also use a lot of extra water and chemicals, if you’re not mindful about it. Set up a compost pile to fertilize your garden with, install a rain barrel to use for watering the garden, and research organic pest control methods like these. You can usually install a rain barrel easily in a day. Just make sure that your downspout funnels in properly, and that the barrel is covered to avoid debris and pests getting in.
- Change the Lightbulbs: At least 5% of your energy budget goes towards lighting. You can save almost $100/year by switching to more energy-efficient bulbs. It might be more money up front, but more energy-efficient bulbs will also last longer, which reduces waste and pays for itself after a few years. So, take some time to buy CFL or LED lights for your home and replace those old incandescent ones when they burn out. Old incandescent lights waste a lot of energy by converting it into heat, which is useless for your home.
- Learn a Few Vegetarian Recipes: Whether or not you have moral standards about eating meat, you should know that meat production industries take more energy and contribute more to environmental pollution than just about any other food. That’s why you can greatly reduce your environmental impact simply by opting for meatless days once or twice a week. So, if it feels like dinner is incomplete without an animal-product protein on the plate, then maybe it’s time to explore some alternatives. Look up vegetarian curries, explore the possibilities inherent in different legumes, and find ways to eat just as heartily, and with just as much protein, without animal products. Again, you don’t have to make a cold-turkey commitment in order to reduce your impact.
- Opt Out of Unsolicited Mail: How much paper waste do you end up with each time you get the mail? It’s annoying, but few of us take the time to make it stop. However, if you just decide that you’re going to sit down for an hour and make a few calls, you can greatly reduce this nuisance (not to mention reduce the amount of waste in your home.) You can opt out of pre-approved credit offers simply by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). You can contact Dex and Valpack online or by phone to prevent them from giving you mail. If you donate to charities that keep sending you mail for more, you can call them and ask for reminders via email instead.
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- RTS Home Accents 50-Gallon Rain Water Collection Barrel with Brass Spigot, Brown
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