Green homes are all the rage these days, but we don’t have tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to sink into expensive upgrades like solar panels or a new HVAC system. Not to worry, though: there are several ways you can make your home greener, healthier, and more energy efficient for under a hundred dollars.
Switch Up Your Bulbs
Lighting is a huge part of a home’s power consumption, but there is a very simple way to reduce that impact. Switching to LED light bulbs won’t just save you money, it will also decrease the overall amount of energy your home uses, which lessens your impact on the environment as a whole. LED light bulbs are 90% more efficient than incandescent ones, and they are also free of all the toxic chemicals utilized in traditional incandescent lighting. They’re not only more energy-efficient, they are healthier, as well. That’s an eco-friendly double-whammy that the earth will appreciate just as much as your wallet.
Let The Sun Shine (Or Don’t)
Utilizing natural light properly can cut down on energy consumption drastically. In the winter when it is warm, keeping blinds and curtains open to let the sun brighten your house keeps you from using lamps and light fixtures. It also helps your home stay several degrees warmer than if the drapes were closed. Alternately, keep them closed in the summertime to drastically reduce the amount of work your air conditioning unit has to do to keep your home cool. Blackout blinds or curtains are an inexpensive investment that can help you manage the levels of natural light in your home throughout the year.
Try Out Your Green Thumb
Clean air is becoming scarcer and scarcer every day, but you don’t have to buy an expensive air filtration system to keep the air in your home fresh and clean: a few houseplants can do wonders. Every member of the plant family uses photosynthesis to sustain themselves, which is a process that turns sunlight into energy. This process involves removing carbon dioxide from the air and replacing it with oxygen. As long as you can keep up with occasional dusting, houseplants will do the rest of the work to keep the air you breathe healthy. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can give it a try. There are several great low-maintenance houseplants that require little water, light, or fussing to stay alive.
Seal Or Strip
A new front door, or an entire home’s worth of new windows, can become very costly very quickly. But, the average home has several air leaks, especially if the doors or windows are older. These air leaks can be silent culprits in a skyrocketing power bill. But, there is an inexpensive way to fix the problem. Weather stripping tape or a few bottles of caulk are very cost-effective, and the average home is usually only about a half-day project to seal or strip. Caulking your windows will require a little more time and effort, but will be a longer-lasting solution. Weather stripping is simple to install (just peel the backing off the tape and press it on) and it can be removed easily when the weather changes.
Nix The Paper
Paper products have become more common in homes the past 20 years. So much so that the average American now uses 700 pounds of paper products every year. From toilet paper to napkins to your daily news source, paper is all around us. I wouldn’t suggest cutting everything out, but there are many ways you can reduce your paper consumption, and therefore save trees and fill up fewer landfills. Switching from paper to cloth napkins is a good start, and if you’re brave enough you can get rid of paper towels too. Towels, cloths, and even recycled bits of old clothing are sufficient in most cases, especially if you’re creative. Those disinfectant wipes everyone loves so much can easily be replaced with a washcloth and cleaning solution, and most newspapers and magazines now offer online subscriptions. At the very least, you can donate old newspapers to pet shelters and old magazines to doctor’s offices.
A programmable thermostat will be well worth the investment in the end. There are several models available for under a hundred dollars, but they will save you that in just a few short months. A programmable thermostat allows you to set different temperatures at different times of day. When everyone is gone, there’s no need to keep the heat or air conditioning working full-time, but no one wants to come home to a frigid or sweltering dwelling at the end of a long day. This small, simple purchase will be easy to install yourself, and you won’t believe how much energy you’ll cut back on by taking the time to schedule out your heating and cooling needs.
Another small investment that will save you tons on your power bill and lessen your overall impact is a smart power strip. Protecting your high-consumption or expensive electronics with a power strip is highly recommended, but why not spend a few more bucks to make the world a better place? Smart power strips are designed to cut off power to electronics that are in standby mode, which is something that is tedious and inconvenient to do manually. Most people don’t even think about all of the energy their electronics are sucking up when they’re not in use, but you’ll definitely notice that 5-10% decrease in your power bill after plugging one of these in.
Happy, Healthy Greening
I hope these tips can help you start out on a more energy efficient, eco-conscious, and healthy lifestyle for you and your family. The environment will thank you a thousand times over, and just think of all the wonderful things you can do with the money you’ll save. Going green doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive at all!
AJ Earley is a personal chef, freelance writer, DIY junkie, and root beer float enthusiast from Boise, Idaho. Follow her on twitter: @ajvworld