The way in which we view the environment in relation to our homes is changing, with many homeowners around the US realising the importance of adding eco-friendly features to their homes – not just in order to reduce their carbon footprint, but also when it comes to saving money and adding value to the property for selling in the future.
The good news is that today, the increasing importance placed on environmentally friendly living across the country means that there are several options available to homeowners in all fifty states that can be used to reduce the amount of energy that a home uses, take advantage of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, and conserve other resources like gas and water, which all add up to having a positive impact on the environment and protecting our planet.
The good news is that paying out half your year’s salary for a Tesla isn’t the only way to make your life and your home eco-friendlier as a US citizen; there are several cheap and easy adjustments that you can make both to your property and your lifestyle to significantly reduce your carbon footprint and personal impact on the planet.
Here are some of the changes and adjustments that homeowners are making across the US to their routines and their properties to lead greener lives and do their bit for protecting our planet.
1. Solar Panels
Solar panels are gathering popularity across the US particularly in the hotter states such as Hawaii and California, where they can be put to use the most.
No matter whether your home is new or old, large or small, solar panels can be a very effective method of generating renewable, free energy from the sun to power your home. And as long as there is nothing blocking your roof like trees or tall buildings nearby, your property should be eligible for this hugely innovative green technology.
If you live in California, you can find the best solar panel company in San Diego offering the best solar panel installation in San Diego and its up and coming towns like Solana Beach, Vista and San Marcos.
Consider this provider offering a wide range of different solar panel options, including traditional solar panels, lightweight and cheaper thin film solar cells, and even the latest solar technologies such as biohybrid solar cells, which are designed to mimic the natural photosynthesis process that occurs in plants.
The addition of chemical reactions makes these panels from Semper Solaris up to one thousand times more efficient than traditional alternatives, however they are currently still in development and not quite ready for use in residential homes.
There are several advantages that you can gain from using solar panels in your San Diego home, with plenty of natural sunlight in this area for generating energy. And, free renewable energy from the sun isn’t all you’ll gain – with solar tax credits in San Diego, you can also earn money back from using your solar panels – and if you generate more than your home needs, you can even sell it to energy companies in your area to make more money from powering other homes and businesses in your area.
Solar financing options in San Diego also make it easier for you to spread the cost of investing in solar panels for your home over time – and once you start saving money on your energy costs, the panels will begin to pay for themselves.
2. Energy Efficient Appliances
When it comes to kitting out your home with everything that you need, energy efficient appliances are a great way to invest in the eco-friendliness of your home. If you’ve had appliances like your oven, hob, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer for some time, then they could be using up more energy than they need to compared with more modern, energy-efficient alternatives that are available today.
It’s worth shopping around and paying more for appliances with energy-efficient settings that you can use as often as possible to lessen your impact on the planet every time you need to use them.
However, getting energy efficient appliances alone isn’t always enough – and that’s why more and more homeowners are looking to change the way that they use these household essentials so that they are more efficient and conserve more energy.
For example, waiting until a full load is available before you use your washing machine, dryer or dishwasher, or line drying your clothes as often as you can are small changes that you can make to your routine to improve your eco-friendliness and reduce your carbon footprint on a daily basis.
Or, if you are cooking a small meal for yourself, investing in a smaller toaster oven, microwave or pressure cooker instead of using your regular electric oven can use up to half as much energy instead.
3. Upgrade Your Car
It’s not all about your home when it comes to reducing the impact that you are having on the planet and living a greener lifestyle.
Electric and hybrid cars are becoming more and more popular and with plenty of options to choose from, eventually there will be an electric or hybrid car to fit anybody’s budget, with plans to get all traditional, gas-powered cars off the roads within the next few decades. By 2040, over half of all new cars will be electric, and it’s worth investing more in a hybrid or electric car if you are concerned about the impact that you are having on the environment.
If an electric or hybrid car isn’t in your budget right now, then there are thankfully several things that you can do to lessen the impact that your driving is having on the environment. Simple lifestyle changes like walking or cycling for shorter journeys more often can significantly reduce the amount of air pollution that your vehicle is contributing to, along with being far better for your own health, fitness and wellness.
If you live near to your colleagues, a carpool scheme for commuting to and from your workplace during the week can be a great way to reduce air pollution on the road by only using one or two vehicles instead of several, and it’ll benefit everybody at the office too by helping everyone save money on gas.
Finally, when you have no choice but to drive, be mindful of the environment when using your car. Regular maintenance and servicing will keep your car’s carbon emissions at the minimum and when you’re behind the wheel, sticking to the speed limit and avoiding harsh accelerating and braking is better for the environment – and much safer for both yourself and other road users.
4. Light It up
When it comes to lighting your home, it can be all too easy to just have lamps in every corner – and light bulbs are probably something that you just buy on autopilot without giving much thought to the energy that they are using or the impact that they are having on the environment.
Switching to energy saving light bulbs is a great place to start when it comes to making sure that lighting your home is as kind to the environment as possible.
While they may be a little more expensive than regular bulbs to buy, it’s definitely worth paying the extra as they will usually last up to 25 times as long as the alternatives while saving you up to $135 across the lifetime of the bulb, which will easily add up to more than you realise when you use them in every light fixture in your home.
In addition to energy saving light bulbs, it’s a good idea to invest in some timers for the lights around your home. Smart lighting is also a good idea; you can control your lights using your hands or your voice or if you’re not at home, you can switch them on and off using an app from your smartphone to help conserve energy when you’re not there.
But it doesn’t have to be this technologically advanced – a simple timer unit on the plug socket for lamps and other light fixtures allows you to set the light to switch on and off as and when needed, whether it’s switched off when you leave the house and on when you return, or you can set it to periodically come on and off throughout the day to create the illusion of somebody being at home.
5. Recycle at Home
With recent news demonstrating that much of the products we recycle are still ending up in landfills, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of American homeowners are finding ways to do their own recycling at home in a bid to become more environmentally friendly.
You may be surprised at the number of products that you have at home that you could easily put to use elsewhere rather than throwing it into the recycling can.
For example, if you have a garden, then you can use your leftover food scraps and vegetable and fruit peelings to make organic, natural compost for your garden – this can then be used to fertilise your soil while avoiding harsh chemicals and toxins, allowing you to grow plants or even your own vegetable garden.
There are plenty of other products that you probably use on a regular basis that you can recycle and re-purpose. For example, wooden pallets and other wooden products can be made into furniture for your home and garden, or you can take glass bottles and paint them to turn them into pretty and unique ornaments and vases.
Fabric is another highly recyclable product, and with the rise of fast fashion leading to fabric being one of the biggest materials that ends up in landfills today, consider other uses for your old clothes before throwing them away.
For example, old shirts can be cut up to make reusable cleaning rags for around your home, both re-purposing unwanted items and helping you avoid using disposable wipes at the same time. You can create items like handbags, new clothes, cushions and soft furnishings for the home, and many other new items from old clothing – all you need is a needle and thread or sewing machine and your imagination.
6. Eat Less Meat
When it comes to lifestyle changes, eating less meat is one of the best things that you can do for the environment. There’s no need to go completely vegan or vegetarian if you’re not ready for that – in fact, simply cutting out meat for one day of the week can have a bigger impact on the environment than you may realise.
Avoiding meat in your diet for one day of the week gives you a great opportunity to discover new and exciting foods to eat and try out recipes that you may not have considered otherwise. In fact, according to the Earth Day Network, simply eating one less burger each week can have the same positive impact on the environment as driving 320 less miles in your car every year.
Meat-free Mondays are the way forward, and after a while you might feel ready to extend it and eat less and less meat every week. If you really want to commit to the cause and become a vegetarian, you’ll be helping to potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally by a massive over 60%.
The good news is that with vegetarianism becoming increasingly more popular, there’s a growing number of resources for new and aspiring vegetarians to use, in addition to a wide range of meat-free alternative products that you can get at any good grocery store.
Restaurants are increasingly adding vegetarian and vegan options to their menus, making cutting out meat from your diet easier than ever with a huge selection of alternative options to go for without missing out on everything that you enjoy.
These are just some of the changes that homeowners are making across the US to their homes and lifestyles to reduce their impact on the environment. Which will you do next?