Family at home with solar panel

The art of living green

Small eco-friendly changes made in the home may often seem not to amount to very much but, if enough people implement them, they will have a cumulative effect and will make a huge difference to the wellbeing of the environment. This is the way things are heading, with people power having a very real impact on the planet as more and more households discover that they can also make savings by adopting a green outlook. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started.

Recycle water

Water is wasted on a huge scale in the average home and one solution to this is to install devices that can enable sink water, for instance, to be used to flush the lavatory. If you can’t or don’t want to install such a device you can easily keep a bucket next to the tub or shower and fill it up with the head of cold water that always comes out before the hot water kicks in, rather than letting it drain away. Use this to flush the toilet or to water outdoor plants instead of using fresh tap water.

Make your own compost

An awful lot of organic household waste ends up in the bin, destined for landfill, and you can actually recycle lawn and kitchen waste to create an eco-friendly compost heap. After a few months of tending, the heap will have broken down its ingredients into rich mulch that can be dug into the soil and used for planting out in the spring.

Get an efficient showerhead

The average person can save up to 3,000 gallons of water every year by installing a high-efficiency head on their shower. The cost savings can also be significant, at around $50. These specialized showerheads are designed to provide an excellent shower experience whilst at the same time conserving resources. There will be a typical reduction in carbon dioxide of 1,000 pounds, and using an inexpensive sink aerator attachment will help save even greater amounts of water.

Make your water heater more efficient

Some eco-enthusiasts go the whole hog and install solar and tank-free water heaters, but really you can make a big difference just by making a few changes to your existing system, cutting your emissions and energy bills by a quarter or more. Wrap your water heater, along with the first six feet of pipes, in a blanket of insulation, for instance, and lower the tank’s temperature to 120 degrees. These changes should take under an hour to perform.

Use efficient lighting outdoors

Use low wattage LED lights to replace halogen lamps outside the home. They last a decade and can reduce energy bills by 80 per cent. Non-essential lighting can use motion sensors to ensure that it is not on all the time, and fluorescent lights use a quarter of the energy of floodlights.

Use compact LEDs and fluorescent lights indoors

Compact fluorescents are extremely flexible in terms of size, quality, and fixtures. They are slightly more expensive than regular bulbs but have a much longer lifespan and typically pay for themselves within the space of two years, through energy savings. LED bulbs are ideal for circuits that don’t incorporate dimmers and, as well as being super-efficient in terms of energy, they’ll probably outlive you.

Load up the washers

Washing machines and dishwashers should only be run when they are full. Washing machines in particular use up huge amounts of water and power and, if you haven’t got a full load, you can often choose an energy efficient cycle setting on modern machines. Dishes should go straight into the dishwasher because we normally use disproportionate amounts of water and detergent when washing by hand.

Install solar panels

Solar panel systems capture energy from the sun and store it in voltaic cells. Direct sunlight is not needed for these cells to work properly and, even on a cloudy day, they are able to generate a small amount of electricity. A home solar panel can be used to run lighting in the home as well as various domestic appliances. Solar panels can greatly reduce electricity bills, and once you’ve paid for the installation the savings immediately start to kick in. This is also pure green energy that cuts your carbon footprint and involves no production of carbon dioxide or other pollutants associated with traditional energy sources.

There are numerous ways such as these for the average home to start going down the eco-friendly route, to save money on energy bills, help protect the hard-pressed environment and have great fun at the same time.