In a 2017 survey, 84% of respondents reported that sustainable living was important to them. But when it comes to leading a greener lifestyle, the answers aren’t always so clear-cut. Making those necessary changes can feel overwhelming or even totally impossible for the long term. The reality, however, is that you don’t have to sacrifice your comfort, convenience, or personal style just to be more eco-friendly.
In many cases, the quest to go green starts right at home. Although there are more extreme ways to embrace sustainability when building or renovating a house, you may not have to go that far. With a few simple changes, you can make your home more attractive and more eco-friendly — all while adding property value and saving you money.
- Add Bamboo Floors: Sustainable wood flooring looks amazing and is better for the environment. While you might be worried that using natural resources might have a detrimental effect on the earth, bamboo actually grows far more quickly than trees used for hardwood floors. In fact, a bamboo grove can yield 20 times more timber than trees growing in the same location — and they’ll give off 35% more oxygen into the air than trees of comparable size. Plus, bamboo doesn’t require the use of pesticides or fertilizers, nor does the flooring manufacturing process involve the use of harmful chemicals that can make their way into your home. And because bamboo floors hold up just as well as hardwood, lasting upwards of 20 years with proper care, their longevity and durability make them even more environmentally responsible.
- Install Sustainable Windows: Want an easy way to reduce your energy
bill and feel cozier this winter? You may want to consider replacing your drafty windows with ones that provide better insulation. Triple pane windows can provide this, as can glaze with low-emissivity coating. You should also pay attention to the window’s U-factor, which tells you how well the product prevents heat from escaping. The U-factor scale ranges from 0.20 to 1.20, with the lowest numbers providing the best insulation. Try to look for wood-framed windows made of certifiably sustainable materials, too.
- Opt for LEDs: You may not even have to undergo any type of renovation to improve your home’s sustainability. If you’re still using incandescent light bulbs, it’s time to make a change. Switching to LEDs is the best thing you can do for your wallet and for your energy use. Not only do residential LED light bulbs use at least 75% less energy than traditional bulbs, but they also last 25 times longer! That way, you won’t have to worry about your reading lamp going dark right when you get to the most exciting chapter. Of course, you’ll save even more energy if you remember to turn off those lights when you aren’t using them.
- Insulate Your Attic: If you don’t have adequate attic insulation, you’re probably losing a lot of heat (and money). Since the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that most households already allocate 44% of their home energy use to heating and cooling, you can’t afford to spend more trying to compensate for drafts and leaks. Amping up your insulation can make a huge difference in your comfort level and in your monthly spending. Insulated buildings actually reduce CO2 emissions in the U.S. by 780 million tons, so you’ll be doing your part to protect the planet. Just make sure that the insulation you use is natural, sustainable, and safe.
- Replace Your Plumbing: Replacing your major appliances and home systems (like your refrigerator, washer and dryer, and HVAC components) with more energy efficient models can reduce unnecessary waste. The same goes for the plumbing components in your bathroom. By swapping out a low-flush toilet for your old commode, you could reduce your water usage by 20% to 60%. Replacing your faucet or shower head for more water efficient models could boost those efforts even more.
It may feel daunting to make a commitment to having a greener home. But by focusing on just one or two of these features, you can make a huge difference without feeling like you’re in over your head.