As people strive to become more environmentally conscious, the best place they can start is their own front door. According to statistics, we spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors¹ and the largest percentage of that is at home, so taking steps to make your living space more sustainable is a great way to make a positive difference.
As you welcome spring, here are seven resolutions to help make your home more sustainable:
That long, luxurious shower may be relaxing, but about one-fifth of an average American’s total daily water consumption comes from showers.² How can you change that? In addition to taking shorter showers, install a low-flow showerhead to cut down on the amount of water you use without affecting water pressure. Another simple fix to wasting water is checking your faucet to see if it has an aerator. If not, adding one is easy and will equal instant savings on your water bill. Finally, check all your faucets and showerheads for drips—a slow and steady leak can do damage to both your wallet and the environment.
When dealing with energy issues in your home, look for professionals who have been trained to become building energy auditors and book a home audit. Pros can help figure out how much energy your home is wasting by using diagnostic equipment to find drafts emanating from cracks and gaps around windows and doors. By sealing those drafts, you can cut down on air leakage, maintain consistent temperatures and avoid spending on costly new doors and windows. Builders and handy homeowners can also check the Department of Energy’s Building America Solution Center for guides to energy saving building solutions.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent comprehensive data on food waste, food composting in the U.S. increased to 2.1 million tons in 2015³, but more than 39 million tons of food waste were created in that same year.4 Composting food and yard waste creates nutrient rich matter that can be mixed with your soil to improve its quality to grow your next season of crops and improve water quality by filtering out harmful pollutants. Create a small compost area in your yard, or bring organic waste to a local compost station, and you will also help reduce methane gas released into the atmosphere, lessen your need for chemical fertilizers and help with water retention in soil.
Adding at least one Energy Star appliance to your home is a great way to get an advanced product that offers peak energy performance. Energy Star is a government-backed initiative to provide homeowners and businesses with the option to purchase independently verified, energy-efficient products that help save money and protect the environment. Initial higher purchase costs will be offset in the long run with lower energy use and lower bills than with outdated appliances. In fact, Energy-Star certified homes achieve an average of 20 percent improvement on energy usage.5
More often than not, homeowners forget about their HVAC systems until there is a problem. Regular maintenance can not only prevent costly repairs, but it can also help save money by making sure the system is running efficiently. Schedule a clean and tune with a verified Energy Star contractor to help make sure your system is clean, designed correctly and performing at optimal efficiency. The result will help with sustainability by reducing energy usage.
Sustainably bring some color into your home by being intentional about your house plant choices. Several studies suggest that certain indoor plants can help filter some level of toxins like formaldehyde from the air in your home.6 Though whether or not the extent of absorption is significant enough to mitigate the chemicals’ effects, studies from NASA and the American Society for Horticulture Science rate these animal-friendly plants highly: Gerber daisy, spider plant and bamboo palm.7 Waste less by buying perennials, which last all year and eliminate the need to buy new plants, and succulents, which require less water to survive.
Everyone in your home can pitch in to help make it more sustainable. One way to do that is by creating a “house usage agreement,” which you can have family and/or roommates sign. The agreement can list guidelines on water usage, air conditioning and heating temperatures, washer/dryer usage and other home-friendly goals so that everyone is doing their part.
You don’t have to make big changes in your home to improve its resource efficiency and your impact on the environment. As spring and all its rejuvenation comes to Atlanta, try these seven ways to make your home life renewable too.
1. We Spend 90% of Our Time Indoors. Says Who?
2. How to Save Water
3. Reducing the Impact of Wasted Food by Feeding the Soil and Composting
4. Sustainable Management of Food Basics
5. Energy Start Overview
6. Can Indoor Plants Really Purify the Air?
7. 15 Houseplants for Improving Indoor Air Quality