It’s hard to have missed the memo on the detrimental impact that human behavior is having on the planet. Our planet. My kids came home from their half-day of school on the Friday before Christmas and donned not their snow gear (as one might expect where we live), but shorts and T-shirts! It’s no wonder that so many people are becoming more interested in eco-friendly homes.
What about you? Is this something you’ve considered? It’s one thing to say “I want to lessen my family’s footprint on the earth” – but what are you actively doing about it? If this is something you’ve considered, or want to explore more in the new year, this post will give you some places to start.
Ways To Have More Eco-Friendly Homes
Looking to buy a new home? Thinking about renovating your current home, and interested in what sets eco-friendly homes apart? There are plenty of companies out there that specialize in “green building”; this is where you want to start. These professionals can help you evaluate how to build a home that’s green from the ground up. They also can help you retrofit existing construction to be more eco-friendly.
We have neighbors and friends who’ve installed everything from solar panels to geothermal heating/cooling systems. This past spring, after putting it off for too many years, we even installed our own solar panels. While cost varies widely depending on what you’re considering, there are lots of opportunities to consider modifications or green building at all sorts of price points.
Check with your locality and state, as well as the federal government, to see which (if any) rebates or tax incentives you might qualify for. These can help make the cost of any larger modifications less prohibitive. And before considering any “green” building options, it’s also a good idea to figure out how many years of savings it will take you to recoup your costs. If you’re torn between two different eco-friendly power options, for example, this could help you decide which is right for you.
And of course, perform your due diligence before buying (or building) a home. Is your home in a floodplain? Do surrounding woods plus historic precipitation trends put your home in danger of being hit by wildfires? How will building a new home affect existing wildlife and plant life? Eco-friendly homes coexist peacefully with their surroundings, rather than trying to build in places that are less well-suited to human dwellings.
One of the biggest challenges for eco-friendly homes is energy consumption. Many people sign up with the first energy provider they come across, or choose their electricity provider based solely on cost. The problem for eco-friendly homes is that the least expensive fuel sources often rely on fossil fuels.
Those who want truly eco-friendly homes take the time to do some research. Depending on where you live, your state or region may have an online comparison tool. You can use these tools to find greener alternatives to fossil-fuel-based electricity providers. Consider choosing a power provider that generates its electricity from sustainable, renewable resources. Even if it costs a little more, it will be worth it.
Or you could start generating some of your own energy through solar panels or wind generators. You may want to have some sort of backup supply, just in case. But adding solar panels or a wind turbine can really make a difference, both in your home’s eco-friendliness and in your electrical bills. Now that we’ve gone solar, my husband LOVES watching our app to see how much power our panels are generating every day, knowing that we’re feeding way more solar energy back into the electrical grid than we’re consuming.
Finally, don’t overlook the basics. Make sure you keep your heating/cooling system serviced so it runs efficiently. See if your electrical provider offers a free or low-cost energy audit, which may help you identify ways to conserve energy. And make sure you train other family members to turn off lights, unplug energy-draining appliances, etc. when not in use.
Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
What about the cleaning products you use in and around your home? So many of them are loaded with chemicals that aren’t very good for humans OR the environment.
When you’re shopping at the store, look to see if there are more eco-friendly alternatives to the cleaners you regularly use. Do some research to see what effective green alternatives exist. Or maybe you want to look into your own homemade “green” cleaning alternatives, such as vinegar and baking soda cleaning hacks.
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As just one example: I know a mama who makes her own laundry soap. You may think this sounds crazy, but she swears by her recipe. And get this: the supplies she purchased to mix up new laundry soap each month will save her over $400 before she uses them all, in about three years!
Finally, especially as the new year approaches, it’s worth thinking about what lifestyle changes you and your family might consider in the coming year. There are so many things you can do here, to help your lives and your home turn over a “green” leaf:
- Switch from paper napkins to cloth ones.
- Look into purchasing items in bulk to save on packaging waste. Or if you regularly buy in bulk but don’t use items before they expire or go bad, maybe you should reconsider that part of your shopping.
- Rethink your entire output of trash waste in your family, and vow to reduce the amount of trash your family produces. This could be through smarter buying choices, by composting leftovers and food scraps, or through rethinking your entire purchasing stream.
- Plant a garden to grow some of your own food.
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- Rethink what else comes into your house besides packaging waste. Resolve to do better at the old Depression-era adage “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Before you buy a brand-new piece of furniture, appliance, or article of clothing, consider if there are secondhand alternatives that are just as good.
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- You could even try a no-spend experiment. I’ve tried to do “No November” for several years, and my blogging friend Sarah Brumley recently completed a No-Spend October challenge. (See her chronicle of this journey at her blog Sarah Brumley Blog.) “No-spend” or “limited-spend” months are great for cutting your consumption and lining your wallet.
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These are just a few steps that you can take to make your home as eco-friendly as possible! With each little baby step you make, you’re well on your way toward a sustainable lifestyle. And if everyone worked together toward more eco-friendly homes, just imagine the impact we could have!
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