Global warming has been at the forefront of science and the media for decades, and as the world’s temperatures continue to climb, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down soon. There is an abundance of television programmes and books out there dedicated to showing people how they can help the planet in their everyday lives. Homes are no exception. As the place where people spend most of their time, it’s only natural that homes, and the way we run them, are leading factors in the acceleration of climate change. However, with the power to change the planet for the worse, there is also immeasurable scope to change it for the better. There are luckily some easy and reliable tips to follow if you are serious about transforming your home into an environmentally friendly one.
Follow a recycling system
Paper waste has reached astronomical levels around the world, with paper consumption rising 400% in the last 40 years. With so much paper in use, it’s only wise that as one of the most recyclable materials on the planet, it shouldn’t be ending up in a landfill as much as it is. The best way to prevent this from happening is by implementing a simple but effective recycling system in your home. Having a bin highlighted as only for papers is very easy to put into practice, and you can teach your kids from an early age where to put their empty wrappers and magazines. Not only this but as a family, you will then go on to use this information in your daily lives, which will have a ripple effect on how other people see you disposing of trash.
Many people with green fingers will already be composting their banana skins and egg shells for use in their garden, but that’s not to say that you can’t do it either. Often, food waste ends up in a landfill, where it can break down in the least useful place. Here, plants can’t grow, so the food waste can’t become compost in a healthy environment. Help cut down on landfill growth and nurture your own plants for an affordable price by having a composting bin outside your door. You can even put them next to the sink for easy access when you are preparing food. If you don’t grow your own plants, you can donate your food waste to local allotments, or take it to a composting plant, where it will be good use.
Have your own greenhouse
Growing your own produce will help you reduce your food miles of fresh fruit and vegetables. The distance that some food has to travel before it reaches your plate can be higher than necessary. In fact, lettuce traveling from California to Washington needs 36 times as much fossil fuel energy from transportation than how much energy the consumer receives from it. It is something that is easily avoidable, and if you have your own greenhouse or allotment, you can grow the same produce in your backyard for a much lower price. You can even grow herbs and spices on your kitchen windowsill, which will also never take up non-recyclable materials for packaging. Having plants inside also reaps incredible benefits for your health by removing the carbon dioxide from the air and purifying it for you.
Consider alternative forms of energy
Fossil fuels such as coal and gas are the main source of energy for homes around the world, but they aren’t the only places where you can get reliable energy. Wind power is fast becoming a popular option for harnessing natural energy, and solar power panels are now a popular fixture on the roofs of many houses. Even when it’s not windy and not sunny, these innovations are also able to store energy that it’s generated for times when conditions aren’t ideal. One of the best things about using the sun for energy is that the lifespan of solar panels can exceed over thirty years. It means that no new materials need to be used in that time to produce more, keeping energy footprints low.
Make use of natural light
There are times when you won’t need to have the light on indoors when the sun is shining through the window, so one habit that it’s good to get into is switching off lights when you don’t need them. Luckily, for many people, they have enough natural light coming indoors not to have to use lighting during the day, whereas others are restricted by windowless rooms or spaces that aren’t open plan. Replacing your windows, or opening up your living space will enable you to rely on natural light more. Though the costs may seem high in the short term, in the long term you will save on your electric bills and help save the planet at the same time.
Waste less water
In the USA, the population wastes over 1 trillion gallons of water every year from unfixed leaks alone. It is almost impossible to conceive just how much is being wasted by things like too-long showers and baths, among other activities that you might not even think about as you are doing them. The trick to using less water is cutting down on the amount you use. Where drinking healthy amounts of water every day is something that shouldn’t be cut down on, having baths that you fill to the top isn’t necessary, and neither is having a shower longer than five minutes. Using your washing machine less is also a great way of cutting down, and you can wash loads that aren’t just made up of a few t-shirts. You can also use dishwater or bathwater to water your plants or collect rainwater from your drain pipes by placing a water butt underneath it to save you from using fresh water from the hose.
Change your home insulation
A lot of energy goes into heating homes in the cold winter months, and central heating in many houses has to be switched on all the time to show its warming properties. One way to massively slash your energy costs and stop wasting energy is by replacing all of your home insulation. Many homes don’t have effective foam or cladding on their walls, which means that more energy is needed to keep people warm when the insulation isn’t doing its job. If you live in a cold part of the country, where winters are painful even with the heating on, you should invest in heavy, flame resistant cladding. Though this won’t mean that you have to have the heating off all the time, it means that you don’t have to have it on as much, as the heat produced by people and heating systems will be kept inside. It also means you will be protected from any cold threatening to come indoors. Cheaper ways to keep the warmth in include buying draught excluders and thick blankets.
Remove old light bulbs
Some light bulbs do not have the seal of approval from environmentalists, as they are not energy efficient. It means that they produce light in a way that is detrimental to energy resources around the world. While switching lights off is the best way to avoid using energy, there will be times where you may forget to turn it off, or where you need a light on to see. This is where it’s best to switch to energy saving bulbs, like LED or CFL bulbs, which will use significantly less energy when lighting your home. They will also save you money on your electric bill every year, as using less energy also translates into lower costs. Despite the fact they can be more expensive in the short term, these costs will more than negate themselves over the months to come. Luckily, most manufacturers are no longer producing halogen bulbs, so they are readily available from most stores.
Switch off at the source
You might think that by switching off a device, you are stopping it from using energy entirely. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, unless you switch it off or unplug it from the mains, it is still technically using energy from the source. This issue is most common with people who leave their laptop plugged in longer than they need to when it is asleep, where it is much better to turn it off. Also, just because your phone says it is one hundred percent charged, it doesn’t mean that the power cable isn’t still pumping energy into it. With electronic devices, not only can this damage the battery of the device, but it is also using energy where it isn’t necessary to do so. Remembering to shut off the power at the source totally will also save you heaps on your electric bill.
Look to the past
Though many up and coming innovations are helping people save the planet and look to the future, there are still some tips you can take from history which will help you now. For example, reading a book instead of always relying on the television will help broaden your mind and lower energy usage, and washing plates by hand will give your dishwasher a break from taking up so much water and energy. There are even ways to make use of the seasons, by hanging clothes out to dry on the washing line instead of resorting to a tumble dryer. Having a few days every month where you live like your ancestors will do a world of good for the planet, and will also lessen your dependence on energy-sapping devices.