“Home is the nicest word there is.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mr. GGC and I love our home; how it looks, how it feels and where it is located are all representative of who we are. As much as we love our home, we often dream of the day when we will move into our forever home. When we think of this place, we see: lots of land, an herb garden, a big eat-in kitchen, the best appliances, lots of windows to let in natural light…the list goes on and on. We want our next house to be comfortable, safe and eco-friendly. So what can we do in the meantime to give our current home a “green facelift”? Read on.
Eco-friendly homes don’t only benefit the environment – they can do wonders for your health and lighten the burden on your wallet. The basic principle behind creating a “green home” is to use less energy and conserve water. Statistics report that green homes use 40% less energy than standard homes. The best part about this concept is that you can really go crazy, invest some serious cash, and turn your house into a swagtastic, sleek and modern eco-casa. OR, if you are like Mr. GGC and I, you can make small changes here and there and still reap the same benefits.
- Check your windows and make sure they are properly sealed. Our house, especially our bedroom, is frequently too hot or too cold because we really need to replace our windows. Our current solution? We shoved old socks in the holes. Not the best fix, but it will do for now. If you don’t have the time or money to replace your windows, walk around and re-seal the leaky spots. The goal is to conserve your heating and/or air conditioning.
- Only run your washing machine and/or dishwasher when its full, if you can help it. Mr. GGC has a habit of turning 1-2 loads of laundry into 3-4 (love you hunny!) Though the intentions are good, your clothes will get JUST as clean if you fill the machine (especially if you are using soap nuts!).
- Replacing your floors or kitchen cabinets? Get a quote for recycled or reclaimed materials. Bamboo, hemp, agrifibers and soy-based products are popular alternatives. In fact, IKEA just launched its first line of recycled kitchen cabinets back in January. They are beautiful, and made entirely from plastic water bottles and reclaimed wood! Check them out.
- Purchase energy efficient appliances. Nowadays, these are so easy to find and will save you a load of money in the long run. ENERGY STAR certified appliances are reliable products and can be found in most home improvement stores. Even switching from regular lightbulbs to LED lights will preserve energy, save you money and release let heat. That means a cooler house in the summertime!
- Do not leave the water running. Every time I neglect to turn off the faucet while I am brushing my teeth or using my Clarisonic cleanser, I end up feeling guilty about the amount of water I’ve wasted. Unfortunately, in the U.S we have come to view water as a resource that is always accessible, and clean. However, due to changes in the environment, this may not always be the case. Do your part – conserve water. Along the same lines, try to cut your shower time – even 5 minutes can make a massive difference! I used to take 30 minute showers every day. Now, I’ve managed to cut it down to 15 minutes. Just think about how much water we are saving each year by making a small sacrifice such as this.
- Feeling adventurous? Looking to downsize? Smaller homes are more much more efficient. Less space means you require less heating and cooling to fill the space, you use less water, there is less to clean and you pay less money in annual taxes. Can you say “tiny house”? How stinkin’ awesome is this…
- In 2005, the Energy Policy Act created tax reductions for homeowners that made energy efficient changes to their homes, including solar panels. When we move into a single-family home, we will definitely look into having solar panels installed. The investment is worth it for the money you will save, the energy you will conserve, and the peace of mind that you will have knowing that your house is actually good for the environment (the future is solar baby)!
- The Unites States spends billions of dollars each year to pay for medical costs associate with asthma and lead-based paint poisoning, among other illnesses caused by poor air quality, mold, and asbestos in the home. This is especially a concern in older homes. It is worth it to have your home tested for black mold and radon. Stale, polluted air remains trapped in the home and can cause even the healthiest person to fall ill. It may be worth looking into air filtration systems and/or humidifiers to alleviate the issue now and to prevent problems in the future.
Be happy. Eat clean. Live smart. Go green.
Love, Mr. & Mrs. GGC