Improve your energy efficiency. Reduce your carbon footprint. Live a healthier life. According to a recent study, global CO2 emissions rose in 2008 by 1.94 percent year-on-year to 31.5 billion metric tons.* Yikes! It can be very demoralizing to try and combat such staggeringly high numbers, but there are some things you can do to help remedy the problem. Here are 35 ways you can green your home, from your yard to your bedroom...
The September issue of Body+Soul has a special "Going Greener Guidebook" in the back of the issue, and we got some great tips from them on ways to green your home:
1. Use a push mower: emits zero emissions, makes less noise, and helps you get a workout, too!
2. Apply weather-stripping: seal all your doors and windows, and it could reduce your energy bill by 10%.
3. Leave Your Yard Clippings: did you know that bagged yard clippings account for 20% of landfill space? Crazy! Leave 'em behind to nourish the soil and help keep moisture from evaporating.
4. Mimimize idling: don't idle your car! Warm it up by driving it.
5. Choose the right pan: using a 6 inch pan on an 8 inch burner can waste more than 40% of the burner's heat, so choose wisely.
6. True linoleum is cool: When you think of linoleum, you're probably thinking of its vinyl imitation. True linoleum is made of plant-based materials like linseed oil, pine resin, and powered cork, and it's been around since the 1800's. Marmoleum is a good example.
7. Heat water with less energy. turn down the thermostat on your water heater by 5 degrees; then install an AirTap device from AirGenerate, which draws heat from the ambient air into your water. You could reduce your water bill by almost 50%.
8. Use a Convection oven: it circulates air continuously, so it uses 20% less energy than a conventional oven.
9. Clean out the fridge: clean your fridge coils at least twice a year and replace door gaskets to keep cold air from escaping.
10. Use Glass Containers: they're sturdy, reusable, and pretty — and won't leach chemicals into your food.
11. Compost: Put your coffee grounds and vegetable scraps to good use by feeding your garden and house plants.
12. Switch to reusable towels: microfiber towels are great, and can be washed and reused over and over again.
13. Turn your Dishwasher on at night: this will avoid peak energy rates. Even better? Turn off the drying cycle as well and let your dishes air dry.
14. Get some green cleaners: try to use non-toxic products without ammonia, chlorine, or bleach.
15. Opt for LCD: LCDs use a mere 77 kilowatt hours per year compared with Plasma's 441 kwh, thus saving 624 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
16. Set the thermostat: with every degree you lower your AC, cooling costs increase by about 7%. Ideally, your thermostat should be set for 68 degrees in the winter when you're at home.
17. Use drapes: use free heat by letting the sunshine in, or keep your house cool (and the AC off) by closing the shades.
18. Get your ducts all in a row: if you have a heating and cooling duct system, have it cleaned and sprayed with a sealant to prevent leaks. Untreated duct systems often waste 25-40% of the energy emitted through your furnace or AC.
19. Use a ceiling fan: opt for counter-clockwise rotation to make your home feel at least 4 degrees cooler, but turn off the fan when you're not in the room.
20. Use sustainable wood: if you need new flooring, make sure it's FSC-certified which ensures that the wood was sourced in an ecologically and socially responsible way.
21. Build a better fire: start your wood fires with dry kindling to maximize efficiency. Never burn chemically or pressured treated wood. When you're not using your fireplace, make sure to close the flue.
22. Fix leaks: stop the water torture and save on your water bill all at once!
23. Avoid PVC like the plague: ...since it kind of is. Just say "no" to hormone-disrupting phthalates in your morning air.
24. Go low-flow: unsure if you already have a low-flow showerhead? Try this tip: put a one-gallon bucket underneath your shower. If it fills in 24 seconds or less, you do NOT have a low-flow showerhead and should think about upgrading.
25. Keep air fresh: this does not mean with artificially-and-chemically-enhanced air fresheners. Make your own air spray using 30-40 drops of as many as 3 different oils - lemon and lavender, for example - with one cup of water.
26. Install a Dual-Flush: dual-flush models use 0.8 gallons for fluids and 1.25 for solid wastes compared to 3.5 to 7.0 gallons respectively for conventional toilets. Read more about it at www.dualflushtoilet.net.
27. Dry off with organic or bamboo towels: conventionally grown cotton is responsible for about 25% of the world's pesticide and insecticide use, as well as petroleum-derived dyes.
28. Change your lightbulbs: replace at least 5 high-use bulbs (like the ones in your bathroom) with CFLs or LEDs. They might cost more to purchase, but they'll last 10 times as long.
29. Be conscious of carpet: choose fibers such as coir, jute, and sisal which are biodegradable, nontoxic, and renewable. Also look for products with a Green Label Plus certification from the Carpet and Rug Institute to ensure low emissions.
30. Install better windows: look for Energy-Star-qualified windows with insulating glazes and gas fills.
31. Rethink your bed: thank goodness we don't know exactly what we're sleeping on, because the long list of chemicals, fire retardants, pesticides, dyes and bleaches would probably ensure we never sleep again. Look for mattresses made out of organic cotton, pure wool, and natural rubber.
32. Unplug your electronics: cell phone chargers and computer cords all continue to emit energy even when they're not turned on. Plug everything into a power strip and turn it off when they're not in use.
33. Use eco paints: we all know how conventional paints smell, and that it can't be good for us. So look for no or low VOC paints to give you peace of mind.
34. Green your sheets: The same issues around towel production apply to sheets. Look for organic cotton or bamboo.
35. Wash in cold: about 90% of the energy used for a load of laundry goes to heating the water. Running a load though a cold wash will get your clothes just as clean.
Make sure to check out the September issue of Body+Soul for more green living tips, available on newsstands now.
Image via Green Cities