Whether you’re prepping for a disaster, trying to get off-the-grid, want to save the planet or just want to save your wallet, most people can benefit from making changes in their home and lifestyle to become a little greener. You may want to reduce your carbon footprint to save the environment or you might want to lower your electricity bill. Some options are large and costly. Installing a solar array on your roof big enough to power your whole home is going to run you into the tens of thousands of dollars. Most people don’t have that kind of cash lying around, but here are some inexpensive things you can do to get your home a little greener.
This one seems like a given, but if you aren’t currently recycling, you should start. The least that will happen is it could lower your garbage bill. If we didn’t recycle at our house we would need to pay for a larger garbage can. In some states you can take recycling i
n and cash it in for money. You also will be keeping a lot of reusable material out of the landfill.
Even when you aren’t using your computer, it’s still drawing power. I would never recommend turning your computer off and booting it up every time you sit down at it, but at the end of the day it wouldn’t hurt to shut it down. Flip it back on in the morning and you get a nice eight to ten hour break from your electricity bill. You can also switch to a laptop that can use as little as a quarter of the electricity as a desktop computer.
The water that comes out of your faucet generally comes out at a rate measured in Gallons Per Minute (GPM). The aerator that screws on to the end of your sink faucet has its GPM rate printed on it. It used to be common to have faucets that flowed at 2.2 GPM. You can buy new aerators for your faucet and shower that have lower rates like 1.2 GPM. The water seems no different coming out of the faucet but you save a lot of water. Another trick to save water is to put something in your toilet tank so it doesn’t use as much water every time it fills up. A brick or a large bag full of water works great to reduce the amount of water your toilets uses every flush. In some areas, the water company gives out water saving devices for free.
The general idea of where the thermostat should be to conserve energy is 68 degrees. That’s when someone is home. If you are going to be gone at work all day, or covered by warm blankets all night, turn the temperature down to 55. This will save you a few bucks on your heating bill. Also, if you are going to be away on vacation, turn the furnace off completely.
Switch to LED lighting. This used to be an expensive endeavor when the technology first came out, but now a 60 watt bulb only runs $8 at it’s most expensive. The big box home improvement stores have deals where bulbs are on sale for only a few bucks a piece. They use a fraction of the electricity and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. They also put off a more natural light than those compact florescent bulbs. Otherwise, try to stay away from halogen lights. They look nice but use a lot of electricity so if you have them, get LED replacements for those first.
Your water heater is constantly keeping the water in the tank warm. If you don’t have the money to get a tankless water heater, consider wrapping your current water heater with an insulating blanket. You can buy a pre-made insulation wrap from any hardware store and this will make the water in the tank cool slower, requiring less energy to rewarm it. You can also wrap the hot water pipes if they are accessible. If you have a cold basement where your hot water lines run, wrap them in insulating foam to keep the water from cooling as much while it travels to the faucet. You will use less hot water that way and should see it on your heating bill.
Check your tire pressure often. You can pick up a device the size of a pen from an auto parts store for a couple bucks that is used to check tire pressure. Keep it in the glove box and when you are getting gas, pull it out and check your tires at least once a month. When you’re tires get under inflated, they create more friction on the road, causing the engine to work harder which requires more fuel. Ensuring your tires are properly inflated will help you keep those MPG up. Also cleaning your car can help in the war against gas mileage. Cleaning the inside of your car will remove junk you don’t need which will reduce unnecessary weight. Keeping the outside of your car clean will maximize aerodynamics and keep you getting the best fuel economy possible.
Pay your bills online and opt for paperless billing. My cable bill has been due the same day every month for years. My bills are one of the few consistencies in my life, I surely don’t need a letter from every one of them, every month to remind me. I don’t really need the email either, but at least that can be gone in less than a second with a flick of my finger against my smartphone screen. Even if you don’t sign up for automatic payments, paperless billing will get you less waste in the mail and you’ll pay less postage mailing checks.
Keeping your appliances clean will make them last longer and work better. Pulling out your refrigerator and cleaning the coils in the back will keep it working better. Running some baking soda and vinegar through your dishwasher every once and a while will ensure it keeps cleaning your dishes properly and result in less dishes being rewashed. Standard maintenance and cleaning of all the machines in your home will keep things working better and will use less energy in the long run.
Any specific questions about home maintenance or repair can be asked in the comments.