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Ten Proven Steps to Go Green
Ten Proven Steps to “Green” your Home
There are many practical steps that most of us could be making right now to reduce our ‘environmental footprint’. By reading through the green tips below you will realize how even small changes in lifestyle, multiplied over time and across households throughout the US and beyond, will dramatically reduce our collective energy consumption.
1. Replace lights with low energy versions
In terms of environmental impact, the case for fluorescent and LED lighting is still being debated. However, in terms of pure power consumption, the single biggest thing most homeowners can do to reduce energy is to replace their normal incandescent bulbs. Ninety per cent of a standard bulb’s energy is wasted as heat, and replacing just one of them will reduce your house’s contribution to CO2 levels by a staggering 260 pounds. If every US home did the same, the country would save as much energy as that generated by a nuclear plant in one year.
2. Use the manual option on your boiler
We have become so accustomed to the automatization of modern life that it is easy to forget there is another way. It may be convenient to have your boiler set to provide hot water on rising and to warm up the house in time for your return from work, but it can also be incredibly inefficient. Review your boiler settings and try to switch to manual settings at least some of the time. Even reducing your thermostat settings by two degrees can save six per cent of your annual heating emissions. Properly insulating your home and wearing suitable clothing can all contribute to less reliance on central heating.
3. Have a shower
Taking a bath is a pleasant experience, but in terms of water use and environmental impact, it is a costly luxury. Limiting bathing to once a week and using the shower instead will not only reduce your environmental impact, it will make that weekly bath even more of a special treat. Reward your sacrifice by turning your bath into a full pampering session.
4. Choose sustainable materials
Whenever you are buying a new item of furniture or household appliance, from a fridge freezer or TV to a new table or bedroom wardrobe make it a priority to check out where it comes from and how energy efficient it is. For extra work space in your kitchen, buy a sustainable bamboo kitchen cart; if you need a new family table, check that it is certified ‘forest friendly’ and carrying the FFC label. Look at an appliance’s ‘EnergyLabel’, which is designed to help you compare models in terms of electricity consumption.
5. Turn appliances off after use
According to the EIA, an average US homeowner consumes nearly 11 000 kWh. Many appliances have a standby or sleep button which places the unit into a reduced-power mode, and since 2007 that means no more than 0.5 watts per hour should be consumed. However, the best option for the environment is still to unplug appliances completely, especially since technological development now enables most clock times and user settings to be saved.
6. Check your fridge freezer
To avoid unnecessary power wastage, only open your fridge and freezer door for as long as absolutely necessary, and check that the seals and gaskets are intact. A fridge only needs to be set to 37 degrees Fahrenheit and a freezer to 3 degrees. Adjust your thermostat accordingly.
7. Reduce the heat when washing clothes
Washing machines rarely have to use hot water to clean your clothes. Commit to turning down to the warm setting for just two loads a week and you will save an average of 500 pounds of CO2 a year. An exception is when there has been family sickness, in which case high temperatures are advisable to destroy lingering micro-organisms.
8. Take advantage of home improvements
If you want to ramp up your emissions savings to tonnes, rather than pounds, take advantage of planned home improvements to take substantial steps to “green” your home. Painting your house a dark color absorbs more heat, cutting down on heating costs. Homeowners in hot countries can use light colors to reflect light and reduce the need for air conditioning.
Argon-filled double glazed windows can save between two and ten tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, depending on your heating system.
9. Be economical in the kitchen
Ensuring your dishwasher is full before use, using the right size pans for cooking, making a pot of tea instead of an individual cup and making full use of energy-efficient microwave ovens are all small steps that add up to big environmental savings over the course of a year.
10. Finally: stay reminded
One of the biggest distractions from our green living goals is the constant bombardment of daily life. It is easy to be inspired and motivated while you’re reading about the plight of the planet during your leisure time, but the day-to-day tasks involved in running a household or earning a wage will usually take precedent at other times.
A step at a time to impact our world! If each of us commit to making small changes, cumulatively, we will make a difference. So, go ahead and take your first step!