Lowering our overall impact on the environment is a team effort, and like a ripple effect, a little from each of us can go a long way when it comes to helping out. The place where we can start making change is the one we know best—our homes. By making your home sustainable and eco-friendly, not only will you decrease your household’s ecological footprint, but you’ll also lower your energy and water bills, increase your savings and create a healthy environment for you and your family.
The growth and development of our communities have a large impact on our natural environment. The manufacturing, design, construction, and operation of the buildings in which we live and work are responsible for the consumption of many of our natural resources.
As a matter of fact, according to the Green Built Alliance, buildings in the United States account for:
- 39% of total energy use
- 68% of total electricity consumption
- 30% of landfill waste
- 38% of carbon dioxide emissions
- 12% of total water consumption
So how do you make a difference? Here we highlight a few first steps that can inspire you to make a more sustainable home.
USE NO- TO LOW-VOC PRODUCTS
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, can cause headaches; nausea; and irritation to the respiratory system, skin, and eyes, among other ailments. Aim to use no- to low-VOC paints and cleaning products in your home. Keep in mind when using harmful chemicals to clean, that when you wash them away you are simply putting them into the water supply. That means water will take more purification before it is safe to use again. But the good news is that in the majority of cases you really don’t need to use them. For most day-to-day cleaning tasks, natural products like vinegar, citric acid from citrus fruits and bicarbonate of soda can be used in place of caustic chemicals. You will also find a wide array for healthy cleaning options at your store if you aren’t in the mood to DIY.
When thinking of these products, your furniture and even your mattress play a big role on the VOCs introduced to your home. Essentia mattresses are made from natural, protein-free latex, from rubber tree sap, in Montreal, Quebec. By producing in Essentia’s GOLS and GOTS certified organic factory, we are able to maintain complete control over all ingredients and components to ensure the highest quality, healthiest, and most environmentally friendly mattresses. In fact, the ingredients used are so safe, employees in the Essentia certified organic factory do not need to wear masks since the mattresses are free from dangerous toxins, allergens and off-gases found in synthetic mattresses.
SWITCH TO ENERGY-SAVING LIGHTING
While regular, incandescent lights are both inefficient and detrimental to your health, there are eco-friendly alternatives, such as LEDs or compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which are the perfect solution for sustainable homes. Although the installation of LEDs and CFLs might be more expensive, it’s actually a long-term investment because these lights use 25-80% less energy than incandescent lights, leading to a lower electricity bill. In addition, they last longer and don’t emit carbon dioxide, unlike incandescent lights.
REDUCE YOUR WATER CONSUMPTION
Another important step in creating a sustainable home is reducing your water consumption. First and foremost, you should repair all the leaks in your home because you can lose around 182 liters of water per week. Other water-saving solutions include installing a low-flow toilet, possibly with a dual flush option. Considering the fact that flushing your toilet accounts for 30% of your total water consumption, you can only imagine how much water you can save. In addition, you can install low-flow shower heads that will reduce your energy and water consumption by regulating both the pressure and the amount of water used. These have been shown to save up to 160,000 liters of water for a family of four. Outside your home, choose native vegetation for your landscaping, since they generally require less water, fertilizer and pesticides. Additionally, consider washing your clothes in cold water and then air-drying them to help save energy and money.
INSTALL A SMART METER
Your heating is one of the biggest ways that you use energy. And it can be very easy, especially during the winter months, to leave your heating on for longer than you strictly need it. This can lead to a lot of both wasted energy and wasted money. The best way to combat this is to have a smart meter installed. Smart meters can be programmed so that they only turn on at certain times of the day – for example, beginning to heat up just before you get home, and shutting off an hour or so before you leave the house. Smart meters can are a must for anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint and decrease their energy bills.
Don’t waste your kitchen scraps and leftover food – turn them into compost. You would be surprised how much of the food that you currently throw away can be recycled and turned into compost. In fact, food waste in landfills generates methane, a greenhouse gas. Cut your carbon footprint by composting food scraps, except meat, in a backyard composting bin or even a worm bin.