Our poor treatment of the environment and our staggering levels of waste are getting more attention in recent years; the knowledge is trickling down to the average citizen, many of whom have a sincere, growing interest in being a bit more eco-friendly. One of the best places to start is in the home; while many green improvements are more costly, such as getting new flooring or other expensive upgrades, there are plenty of things you can do to make an impact without draining your wallet. The best part is, many of these changes will actually save you money, so there is mutual benefit to be had in being a better friend to the planet. Here are some cheap ways to go green in the home.
Cutting Water Use in the Bathroom
We waste a lot of water, and we take this precious commodity for granted. Over the next several years, it is predicted that a number of states will experience water shortages, and we can all do a bit more to conserve water use. Installing a low-flow showerhead can save gallons upon gallons of water each time you shower. While you may associate low-flow with a weak shower that will leave your hair full of shampoo, their design has been greatly improved over the years. As for your toilet, installing a dual flush valve can save on water use, as can buying floaters to place in the tank; for an even cheaper option, you can make your own by filling a plastic bottle with sand and water.
Plug Air Leaks
Oh boy do we waste a ton of energy through poor insulation. All those little cracks and holes can add up. You lose heat, you turn up the heat unnecessarily because of the cold air getting in, and you run the air conditioner much higher than you need because all of that wonderfully cooling air is escaping to the outside. Outlet plugs or foam insulators (for exterior outlets) can keep air from escaping through here. Some inexpensive stripping placed around the windows can do wonders for your energy bills.
Traditional light bulbs are one of the most energy-inefficient items you have in your home. Something as simple as switching to fluorescent or LED bulbs can cut energy use dramatically. While these bulbs may be more expensive initially, they last for years and years and you will surely recoup the costs. LED lights may be the best choice of all—they last an average of 50,000 to 70,000 hours compared to 750 to 2,000 hours for a traditional bulb and 8,000 to 10,000 for a compact fluorescent.
Using Natural Cleaning Products
Conventional cleaning products are chock full of chemicals that are not only bad for the environment, but bad for you. They may cause anything from headaches to allergic reactions. If you read the labels of many of these products, you will often see a warning that they are hazardous to humans and animals—yet we are using them all over the house and breathing them in. Many natural cleaning products are readily available in the supermarket; to save even more money, you can make your own with items you may already have lying around your house such as baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and olive oil.