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4 Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

Incorporating eco-friendly lifestyle changes is a great way to conserve energy and water, and to preserve the environment in general. While more popular green activities, such as recycling and using green building technology, are important, taking smaller, more personal eco-friendly steps in your home can help improve your health and the health of the environment.

Many think that they have to invest a lot of money or time to make a meaningful impact, but this is not the case. The following are some eco-friendly changes that are not only easy to implement, they are also relatively inexpensive:

  1. Take Advantage of Solar Lighting.

solar lighting
Pam Corey | Flickr

Electricity is arguably one of the biggest expenses for homeowners and renters, with the average monthly electricity bill totaling more than $114 per month. Therefore, it makes sense to use solar lighting to put a dent in those bills while also benefiting the environment.

Solar lighting is typically viewed as a solution for outdoor use—such as lamps to light a walkway—yet it is also suitable for indoor use. From night lights to solar powered candles, there are a variety of ways to use solar power inside your home. Not only will using solar lights reduce your energy consumption and cost, they will also come in handy during power outages without the safety hazards posed by candles or oil lamps.

  1. Use Green Cleaning Products.

Cleaning products are something we all use in our homes, and even though they are meant to enhance our lives, they are often full of chemicals that can do us more harm than good. Not only can these chemicals cause adverse reactions in humans and pets, but they are also a threat to the environment. Household chemicals that are washed down the drain can contaminate waterways and contribute to air pollution. In addition, research has shown that using a standard cleaning solution just once a week increases the risk for respiratory issues like asthma.

By utilizing eco-friendly or green cleaning products, you can reduce the amount of chemicals you’re exposed to. Many manufacturers, responding to consumer demands, have introduced non-toxic versions of popular cleaning products. These eco-friendly products are available at most major retailers, and you can even purchase some online.

If you’re up for the challenge, there are also DIY cleaning solutions that you can make yourself from natural ingredients such as banking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice. Not only are these products better for you and your family’s health, but they are also budget conscious. There are plenty of places online where you can find tips and recipes to make the process easier.

  1. Automate Your Thermostat.

Image by pablo_marx | Flickr

According to a US Department of Energy report, about 9 percent of total energy use in the United States is due to residential thermostats. Setting it too high can result in increased heating and cooling bills, while setting it too low can lead to inefficient temperature regulation, which also wastes energy. Experts have continually recommended that homeowners invest in programmable thermostats, yet many people don’t heed this advice.

Programmable thermostats have been in existence for decades, yet only 30 percent of households have them. In most cases, homeowners and renters do not purchase new thermostats. Rather, they simply inherit the previous occupant’s thermostat. Among those who have programmable thermostats, their efficiency depends largely on how well the homeowner understands how to use it.

One of the more recent entries to the programmable thermostat market is the Nest smart thermostat. Instead of just having a variety of random settings, Nest works by learning the habits and behaviors in your household in order to heat and cool more efficiently. During the first week of use, Nest will formulate an energy efficiency cycle that will help reduce bills while keeping you comfortable. You can also control the Nest thermostat from your smartphone or tablet.

  1. Dump Plastic Water Bottles.

From washing machines to dishwashers to long showers, water is one of the most wasted resources inside our homes. One of the biggest wastes of water involves drinking bottled water. While it is certainly convenient, bottled water’s impact on the environment hardly makes this convenience worth it.

Despite myths, bottled water isn’t any healthier than tap water, as many harmful substances are eliminated through municipal water treatment processes. Plastic water bottles also can contain polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which has been shown to cause adverse health effects in humans.

To save money and keep plastic bottles out of recycling plants and our environment, you should use a water-filtration system instead of bottled water. If you are a homeowner and have a large family, a sophisticated, whole-home, water-filtration system may be your best bet. But for most people, a water-filtration pitcher will suffice. Using a water filtration system can save a family of four more than $2000 a year.