One of the first places to look at “greening” your life is your home. There are easy ways to integrate a ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’ philosophy into a home improvement project. Whether you are actively tackling a project and looking for a green approach, or just seeking ways to save water, electricity, and other resources, the following tips can get you on your way.
1. Scout out and end ‘vampire power loss’: In cases of vampire power loss, your gadgets are off but they still using electricity. Many devices that appear off are actually in a stand-by mode, to allow them to record (think DVR) or to come on more quickly when you want to access them. A couple of simple solutions can help. Use a power strip to allow you to easily and fully cut power to clusters of electronics. New models of Smart Strips are actually able to sense whether devices are in standby mode and calibrate accordingly.
2. Control easy to fix water leaks: We lose water in a variety of ways, but especially once we’re outside. Consider watering your lawn, gardens, and plants at optimal times to minimize evaporation. Early in the morning and dusk are the best times, when temperatures are cooler and direct sunlight is less of an issue. Replace the rubber seals in your irrigation devices, sprinklers, and hoses to eliminate small leaks. This change alone can save a gallon or more of water per day.
3. Declutter the smart way: One of the best ways to improve the feel of your home is to declutter. But before you tackle that project, have a strategy in place to declutter the green way. Old cell phones can be donated to programs such as The Wireless Foundation which will refurbish and share with domestic abuse survivors. Sneakers can be donated to the Nike Reuse a Shoe program, which uses the rubber to make sports courts and passes along shoes in good shape to needy athletes. Outdated computers can be donated to local schools or libraries, or to the national Cristina Foundation. Before throwing anything away or even putting it in the recycle bin, take a look online to see how someone else might repurpose or give new life to the item.
4. Improve energy consumption: If you’re buying new appliances, look for brands carrying the Energy Star seal. The energy these appliances save can help pay for the cost. Additionally, improving the insulation in your home can dramatically improve the house’s ability to regulate its temperature naturally and require less in terms of energy expenditure to warm or cool the house.
5. Clear your filters: If you’re looking for an easy way to make an improvement today, there are two filters in your house that can clean and immediately improve energy efficiency. The first is to clean your dryer lint trap. Taking a moment to do so each time you dry clothes will make your dryer approximately 10% more efficient in the drying process. Also be sure to clean and check the filters on all your ACs as we head into the summer season. Jammed filters in an AC system can reduce the unit’s efficiency and require you to run it longer and on a higher setting in order to effectively cool a room.
[About the author: Jim Klossner contributes writing to John J Cahill, Inc., an Evanston, Il company that does Kitchen and Bath Remodeling, Plumbing, and more. When he’s not working or writing, he enjoys trying to figure out how to take good pictures with his DSLR camera and cooking vegan food at home.]