What does environmentally friendly mean?
This could be a lengthy topic, but simply put it means trying to reduce your negative ecological impact on the world. Some of the solutions I have suggested below are easy, should not cost much and may even help reduce your overall household costs.
They can be broken down into three areas: energy reduction, water reduction, and chemical reduction. This is by no means a definitive list, but I hope it will give you some pointers or reminders.
Reducing energy consumption can be where you make the most savings in your home, and it will also help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Make sure crawl spaces are insulated. There are new natural fibers available; some products now are made from recycled denim jeans. At its core, insulation reduces heat loss in winter or heating up during the summer.
Ensure all windows and doorways are properly caulked. Sometimes caulk will dry and contract, replacing it every couple of years will help reduce those drafts through your home.
There are even switch and plug insulators, little pads that fit underneath the plate of the switch. Another easy step is to make sure air filters on your furnaces and outside air conditioning units are cleaned or replaced regularly. Dirt build-up in these will reduce efficiency and cause your units to work harder for longer.
Lastly, when light bulbs burn out try and replace with Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs), they are a touch more expensive than traditional lightbulbs, but
use about 75% less energy and can last up to 10 times longer.
There are even LED lights now, but these are more expensive than CFLs but have a longer lifespan than CFLs.
Water consumption can be reduced by adding flow reducers to faucets. They can just screw on the end of the faucet and cost only a couple of dollars. Flow reducers can lessen water usage by between 20 to 40 percent depending on model and cost.
You can even reduce water usage with toilets by adding a Toilet Tank Bank. When the bank is filled with water and added to the tank reservoir, it reduces the amount of water used per flush.
The same effect can be used by adding water bottles filled up with water and added to the reservoir. There are various methods for reducing water in the garden as well. (More on that in a later column.)
Chemical reduction can be achieved a number of different ways. There are now “greener” products offered by recognizable brands. These products either reduce the amount of a certain known toxic chemical, or provide less hazardous alternatives.
With all products, it is worthwhile looking at their Material Safety Data Sheets or M.S.D.S., usually posted on the products’ website.
There is always the “au naturel” method of making your own cleaning products. Vinegar mixed with water, or straight, can be an effective cleaner all over the house, it even removes lime scale.
Baking soda is also highly effective when mixed with warm water to clean surfaces, silverware, ovens, and more. It is also highly effective at removing odors from the air.
So, there you have it: easy ways to reduce energy, water and chemical usage, making your home more environmentally friendly in the process. Not only will you be helping the environment, in the long run you will be helping your wallet as well.
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