Buying a house is a long, drawn-out process. Even securing a loan from a bank and seeing it through until closing can take as long as 60 days! Unfortunately, picking up your keys is not the final step. There are plenty of things left to do when you move in.
The good news is that you can feel good about doing them! Take the following steps to lower your carbon footprint in your new house. Reduce energy and water bills, keep your home in like-new condition, and know that you are doing your part to save the environment.
1. Save The Planet While Lowering Heating and Cooling Costs
An inefficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can cost you a lot of money and be unnecessarily harmful to the environment. In fact, an improperly installed unit may reduce your home’s energy efficiency by as much as 30%. That’s a major loss, especially when you consider the many years you may be spending in your new home.
If your energy bills are consistently high, the ducts and vents in your home may be to blame. According to Energystar.gov, 20% to 30% of cool or hot air escapes through household duct systems. In addition to making sure these systems are properly installed, there are some other things you can do to keep them running at their best. Here are just a few:
- Insulate ducts.
- Replace AC filters regularly. For the typical household, that means once every 90 days. For households with multiple pets or adults or children suffering from allergies, every 20 to 45 days may be best.
- Invest in a programmable thermostat. By purchasing a programmable thermostat, you can lower cooling and heating bills by 15% or more every year.
- Weatherstrip windows. Windows can be drafty, allowing cool or hot air to escape from your home. Weatherstrip windows to prevent air from leaking out of cracks and crevices. These leaks may seem minor, but they will ultimately cost you more money.
- Replace windows altogether. If your bills are especially unreasonable or if your home is especially drafty, it may be a good idea to replace your windows. Double-pane and/or EnergyStar-certified varieties are best for energy efficiency.
2. Bring Plants Inside Your Home
Household plants can have an air cleansing effect, according to several studies. Luckily, about 30% of all households buy at least one houseplant and feel these effects already. A study by the University of Technology in Australia shows that house plants can filter out some of the most dangerous chemicals from the air around us, including benzene. Benzene is a colorless and odorless carcinogen. In addition to cleaning the air and preventing physical ailments, NBC News reports that having green plants indoors can make you up to 15% happier as well.
3. Plumbing And Water: Waste Not, Want Not
Unfortunately, a lot of the water we use in our homes goes to waste. There are several small things you can do to fix it. For example, U.S. households waste over 10,000 gallons of water through plumbing leaks and inefficient fixtures. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), by replacing leaky fixtures with low-flow faucets, homeowners can save 10% per year on their water bills. Similarly, your toilet uses nearly a third of your home’s water, with flushes accounting for a full 30% of water usage. Install a low flow, energy-efficient toilet to save 13,000 gallons of water every year.
Other things you can do include showering instead of bathing (showers use much less water), taking shorter showers, and turning off the water when you are not using it. It’s a well-accepted truth that 32% of U.S. men and women worry about how their teeth look. You can brush your teeth as often as you would like, just remember to turn off the water when you’re not washing your toothbrush or rinsing.
4. Recycle and Reuse!
Whether you are making essential home repairs, adding an addition to your new home, or building your home from scratch, choose recycled materials for the greenest possible house. For example, you may see the letters FSC on wood products. That’s great! FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and indicates a certified wood product. Every year, the FSC works to maintain sustainable forests. When trees are cut down, they plant new ones. You get the idea. This is effort is all to offset the estimation that at least 17 million acres of forest land will be lost permanently to urbanization and development in the next five decades. Join the cause by purchasing FSC certified wood products for home renovations and repairs.
Similarly, there are other areas where you can use recycled products to keep your carbon footprint low, while also keeping your house looking like new. If you plan to install a deck, for example, search for composite products made out of recycled wood waste and paper.
Some companies even make area rugs and wall-to-wall carpet out of recycled bottles and they look just like more traditional alternatives. Finding green options for your home is especially important when the traditional alternative is plastic. The U.S. is the third largest plastic producer in the world, but that doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of these products. By avoiding plastic, you won’t be throwing the non-biodegradable material into landfills when it comes time to dispose of the items.
Consider this green, environmentally friendly option if you want to cover up hardwood or tile surfaces. The flooring industry is booming with a 3.85% growth in revenue and a 3.2% increase in volume, meaning most flooring companies are more than capable and willing to work with you when exploring green flooring options.
5. Choose Energy Efficient Lighting
A final option is to reevaluate your lighting. A good first step is to switch to LED light bulbs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), LED lights require 75% less energy and last 25 times longer. A single LED light bulb packs $135 in potential savings. Install bigger windows and skylights and turn off lights when you are out of the room for the largest savings on your energy bill and the most energy-efficient home possible.
Purchasing a home is a big step, but the “fun” is not over! Remember to consider the environment when picking up the keys and entering your home for the first time. Keep your energy bills and carbon footprint low by installing energy-efficient faucets, favoring up-to-date and well-maintained HVAC systems, putting in low-flow, leak-free plumbing, and buying cost-effective LED light bulbs.