If your new year’s resolution had something to do with reducing your ecological footprint, cutting down on energy costs, or just making your home a more comfortable place to live, you’re in luck. Here are 16 resources for making your home a cleaner, greener place to live.
What’s an Eco-Footprint?
Your ecological footprint basically refers to how much of the planet’s resources you use. That includes the impact caused by driving your car, heating your home, eating your meals, buying your belongings, and everything else you do. The first step to reducing your ecological footprint is figuring out just what it is. Treehugger’s Green Basics article on Defining, Calculating and Reducing Your Environmental Footprint is a good place to start.
Go Green and Save Money
One of the benefits of going greener around the home is that you’ll often significantly cut down on utility costs. From heating and cooling tips to reducing electricity and water costs, these 10 Cost-Saving Green Tips For the Home will please both the environmentally-conscious and the wallet-conscious. Of course, one of the simplest and most readily available solutions for adding a bit of green to your house is the venerable CFL bulb. Find out everything you need to know here with Treehugger’s guide to CFL bulbs.
Reduce Heating and Cooling Costs
Heating and cooling a home is expensive – and unless you’re lucky enough to live in a very temperate location, you’ll have to do at least one of those at some point in the year. Aside from insulating your home (which is in itself a fantastic way to minimize heating costs), here are projects to make every room in your home more energy-efficient. Whether you decide to DIY or BUY, your energy bills will be a lot less painful. And, although summer is only a distant dream for the northern hemisphere at the moment, here are 10 low-tech ways to cut down on cooling costs in the warmer months. But for the simplest of the simple tips, just replacing your HVAC filters can save you money on heating and cooling your home.
Monitor Your Energy Usage
There are a ton of dandy little gadgets that will tell you just how much energy your home is consuming. The Home Joule does that, plus it tells you when your energy bill will spike based on weather and time-of-day costs. Keeping an eye on the device’s face helps you determine when you should try to cut back on discretionary energy consumption: green means electricity costs are low, yellow means mid-range, and red means they’re high.
Put Your Garbage to Good Use
Besides recycling, which pretty much everyone agrees we should all be doing, there’s another way to make the most of your waste: composting. According to the EPA, yard trimmings and organic household waste make up 26% of America’s solid waste. Learn how to compost your household organic waste and you’ll not only be keeping a significant amount of waste out of the system; you’ll also be giving yourself a great foundation for growing your own food. A garden provides natural exercise and cuts down on your grocery bills; what more could you ask for? Take it a step further and add worms, and there you have vermicomposting and some incredibly rich gardening material.
Build Some Green In
When you’re remodeling or building a new home, it’s the perfect chance to build some green features right into the house. Most of us won’t be able to afford GE’s new “green gizmo” home, but when you’re remodeling or just improving your home, you can almost certainly fit in some green materials.
Produce Your Own Power
There are no two ways about it: coal-powered power plants are dirty and harmful. But taking a home entirely off-grid simply isn’t an option for most of us. If you want to start powering your home with greener electricity, here are five great ways to get started. For the DIY crowd, here’s how to build cheap solar panels with damaged solar cells found on eBay. Or, if you’d prefer not to hunt around for deals, here’s an inexpensive DIY solar kit: for $600 you could power some, but not all, of the appliances in your home. These solar curtains may not be commercially available yet, but they give us hope for what could be a fashionable energy-producing alternative in the future. And finally, if solar just doesn’t cut it for you, you could always spring for the hallmark of the modern alt-energy home: the wind turbine.