Each of us are at different stages in our journey toward sustaining our planet. If you’re maintaining a “go green” lifestyle, you are committed to making eco-friendly choices and establishing sustainable practices throughout your day-to-day life. If you’re new to learning and helping the environment, you might be wondering where to start.
There are steps, large and small, that can be taken toward leading an environmentally conscious lifestyle. The first is reflecting on the areas of daily life that we can make more sustainable. As consumers, one adjustment to consider is our household energy use. From heating, cooling and powering our homes, household energy consumption is accountable for an estimated 20% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions released by the United States.
As of 2021, 85% of people around the world consider ecological impact when making purchases. Sustainable products are gaining traction in the global market, making consumers more conscious of eco-friendly options. While it is easier to cut out single-use plastics, large scale upgrades to your home could have a more significant impact long-term.
With this knowledge, we can seek ways to reduce our carbon footprints and move toward a more energy efficient home. These changes don’t all come cheap, nonetheless, investing in the energy efficiency of our homes is an investment in sustaining our home planet.
Here are a few upgrades for a more energy efficient home:
To start from the bottom up, first look at the floors of your home. One of the most sustainable materials out there is bamboo. Bamboo boasts a regrowth rate that is nearly 1/10 of that of trees used for traditional hardwood flooring; bamboo takes 3-7 years to regenerate while trees used for hardwoods can take anywhere from 40 to 70 years. It is also reported to produce ‘effectively zero’ formaldehyde emission. This all comes at a comparable price point to other eco-friendly flooring options.
If you’re still not warming up to the idea of bamboo floors, it may be worth considering radiant heat floors. Heat is one of the highest energy-consuming systems in our homes. Radiant heat floors help distribute heat throughout the home more efficiently, therefore consuming less energy and lowering heat bills by 15% on average.
Renewable Energy Sources
The most obvious way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to stop relying on fossil fuels as your home’s energy source. Installing solar panels is one alternative solution. While the price for solar panel installation may vary, the bright side is there are also an abundance of benefits to reap. Beside being cleaner for our atmosphere, solar panel users can also enjoy tax deductions and savings on energy bill costs.
Windows and Door Insulation
Depending on the season, you likely want to keep the heat in or out of your home without racking up a high energy bill. Installing newly insulated windows and doors, or resealing insulation of existing ones, is one method for improving your home’s ability to maintain desired temperatures without relying on the thermostat. With your home’s insulation doing the heavy lifting for temperature control, you will, in turn, consume less fossil fuel energy to heat or cool your home. For this reason, the cash you fork over for this project has the potential to come right back into your pockets as you begin saving money on your energy bills and spending less on your air conditioner to keep you cool.
Consider the amount of energy it takes you to run a load of laundry or keep your food refrigerated. Updating outdated appliances to models that use more sustainable technology can dramatically affect your level of energy consumption in these processes. Experts at Energy Star, the nationally recognized symbol for energy efficiency, suggest revamping laundry room appliances by swapping to those that conserve water and energy such as front load washing machines and heat-pump dryers. Using eco-friendly detergents in our wash loads and cutting down on the use of wasteful products like dryer sheets can also significantly reduce the amount of toxins and pollutants that are released into our water supply and landfills.
In the kitchen, switch to energy efficient refrigerators, ovens and dishwashers, and be on the lookout for companies who are committed to the sustainable disposal of these products after they’ve served their purpose. Just like your floors, using bamboo for your countertops is another great choice for making the switch to more sustainable materials in your home.
Investing in the Future of Our Planet
The suggestions provided above may seem daunting when initially totaling costs for improving your entire home’s energy efficiency. Although eco-friendly home features may come at higher costs, investing money and time into the health and stability of our environment has high return on investment. In fact, the theme of Earth Day in 2022 was “Invest in Our Planet,” a great reminder that the effort we put into preserving our planet has a direct impact on the preservation of a high quality of life.
Not to mention, there is a chance that these home improvements will be cheaper in the long run. When you weigh the lower energy bill costs that come as a direct result of optimizing your home’s energy efficiency, or the higher quality products that you will need to pay to replace and repair less frequently, with the price you pay up front for these upgrades, it can be argued that your dedication to saving our planet’s future will save you money in the future.
There are also an assortment of options for funding these home projects if you don’t have the cash flow to drop thousands of dollars at one time. Many home improvement and appliance retailers offer their own financing options that allow customers to make payments over time. There is also the option of charging these expenses to a credit card or, for those with a great credit score, taking out a personal line of credit for larger purchases. A home equity line of credit is also an option to consider for those who qualify and have available equity in their homes.
As the saying goes, “there is no Planet B.” We have one habitat to commit our time and resources into: the Earth. Improving the current state of our environment and protecting the environment from further damage are substantially valuable for sustainable development and our future. Starting at home is a great first step for an individual to take toward leading a greener lifestyle.