21 Hints for an Eco-Friendly Home

Small adjustments can make a big impact on the environment and the health of our planet. We are at a point in time where we cannot afford to not make these changes.

To make it as easy as possible for you to transform your house into a clean energy haven, we’ve created this guide of a list of the easiest eco-friendly changes.

1. Use a Pressure Cooker

kitchen, stove, pressure cooker

You’ll be doing both the environment and yourself a favor by investing in a pressure cooker. The kitchen gadget, which speeds up the time it takes to cook a stovetop meal, allegedly reduces cooking time by as much as 70 percent, which means less energy used preparing your favorite pot roasts, pasta, and potatoes.

2. Toaster Oven over The Stove

Red toasterIf you’re cooking a small meal for one, opt for your toaster oven instead of your larger oven. The U.S. Department of Energy found that toaster ovens used up to half as much energy compared to a conventional electric oven, primarily because a conventional oven requires preheating or is more frequently opened and closed throughout the cooking process, which lets the heat out.

3. Light Up the House with LEDs

Lamp in a room

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. They’ll also save you a huge chunk of money on your energy bill.

4. Compost Your Scraps

Food Waste

Even the most efficient eaters are going to end up with scraps of food to throw away at the end of a meal. But instead of throwing them into the trash, the more eco-friendly thing to do is to store them in a bin for composting. As one study from the University of Washington found, food waste in landfills is one of the leading causes of methane, but composting prevents the food’s decomposition and subsequent release of greenhouse gases.

5. NEVER use or buy a plastic water bottle

eco friendly

Putting your plastic water bottle in the recycling bin doesn’t make up for the fact that you’re using a plastic bottle in the first place, unfortunately. According to The Water Project, an estimated 80 percent of all plastic water bottles in the United States get tossed in with the trash, and only 20 percent of the bottles that are recycled can actually be used for recycling. And as for the bottles that are thrown away, they take over 1,000 years to biodegrade. Buy a reusable bottle instead and you’ll be saving the environment with every sip.

6. Repair a Leaky Faucet

Kitchen sink

The slow, excruciating drip of a leaky faucet is enough to drive anyone insane. Add to that the fact that one drip every second adds up to five gallons of wasted water per day, and you have no excuse not to call a plumber ASAP.

7. Unplug Unused Electronics

power strip, plugs, energy

Want to save the planet in seconds? Just unplug. “The simplest and most obvious way to eliminate power losses is to unplug products when not in use,” write the authors of Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings – 9th Edition. If you don’t feel like pulling every lamp and charger out of the outlet when you leave the house, use a power strip instead—it’ll leave you with just a single thing to unplug.

8. Line Dry Your Laundry

laundry, line dry, energy efficient

Want to save energy and money? Nix the dryer altogether and instead, try line drying your laundry. The EPA determined that a dryer uses more energy than a refrigerator, washer, and dishwasher, and line drying can reduce energy usage from major appliances in a typical household by as much as one-third.

9. Buy Vintage Products

woman browsing thrift store bags shopping

As Richard Robbins highlighted in his book Global Problem and the Culture of Capitalism, consumerism and the production process have a detrimental environmental impact.

“The production, processing, and consumption of commodities requires the extraction and use of natural resources (wood, ore, fossil fuels, and water),” Robbins wrote. Every time you buy new clothing, you’re contributing to the release of environmental toxins and, if you’re into fast fashion, a ton of easily-avoidable waste. When you buy vintage items they are usually more affordable, will give you a unique sense of style and sustainable for the environment.

10. Adjust Your Toilet

Toilet with lid up

According to the EPA, toilets account for almost 30 percent of the average household’s indoor water usage. One easy way to slash this number is by upgrading an older toilet model to an EPA-certified WaterSense model. Nationwide estimates that the eco-friendly models can save as much as 13,000 gallons of water per year, plus slash water bills by $90.

11. Pass on Paper Towels

paper towel rolls Organized

You don’t have to give up paper towels completely, but it’s best to use them sparingly. Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) compared the seven most common methods for drying hands and found that using paper towels generates 70 percent more carbon emissions than cold air-driven hand dryers. Of course, you probably don’t have a hand dryer at home, but even using a cotton towel is 48 percent more eco-friendly than drying off with a paper towel.

12. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water

man putting clothes in washing machine relationship

Believe it or not, almost 90 percent of the energy a washing machine uses goes toward heating water, according to Energy Star. By using the cold water setting on your washing machine, you can eliminate up to 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

13. Decorate with House Plants

house plants, environmentally friendly

Caring for house plants takes quite a bit of responsibility. However, the ends justify the means: Scientists from the University of Technology in Australia found that the soil in potted plants can clean indoor air of toxic substances like benzene. Scientist Bill Wolverton, who authored a famous NASA study on air purification, recommended the Boston fern and the golden pothos for effective air cleaning.

14. Reuse Shopping Bags

grocery bag in car

Whether you opt for paper or plastic is irrelevant, so long as you reuse the bags you get from the grocery store. An extensive report from the Environment Agency determined that paper bags must be reused at least thrice to compensate for their environmental effects compared to those of plastic bags. And reusable cotton bags have to be reused at least 131 times to break even with a plastic bag due to the environmental impact of their production.

Of course, paper is compostable whereas plastic holds a high carbon footprint, so in the end, any bag you use is fine—so long as you keep using the same one.

15. Shop Locally

farmer's market, organic, produce, environment

The fewer hands your food passes through, the better. The Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty Organization (COTAP) reports that an estimated 13 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States stem from the production and transportation of food. Opt for organic and locally-sourced products, especially those from farmers’ markets.

16. Grow Produce in a Garden

Girl Gardening Valentine's Day

If you want to take your eco-friendly eating habits one step further, you can use your backyard space to start growing your own produce. “By growing your own food, you eliminate the emissions that come from the transportation of goods to your local markets and mass grocery stores,” Arcadia Power advises.

17. Cook More Meals at Home

elderly couple cooking a healthy meal peppers

We can’t control the portions we receive at restaurants, but we can control how much food we make at home. And those portion sizes could help cut back on the amount of food America wastes, which is a lot: A recent report found that almost 50 percent of all of the country’s produce—about 60 million tons—is thrown in the trash.

18. Turn Off Your Ice Maker

ice maker, fridge, kitchen, ice

Most people don’t consume dozens of ice cubes a day, and yet they leave their ice makers running all day. This small slip-up has a big impact on energy consumption: According to TIME, the average ice machine increases energy use by up to 20 percent when it’s running 24/7. Turn off your ice machine when you aren’t using it, or better yet, buy an ice tray and create cubes sans carbon emission.

19. Throw out Your  Microwave

Man opening his microwave oven.

Microwavable meals are cheap, easy, and sometimes even scrumptious. But a study from the University of Manchester is making us question our reliance on the kitchen appliance: Apparently, microwave usage in the European Union emits as much carbon dioxide per year as 6.8 million cars. Instead of throwing out your microwave, the study authors suggest adjusting cooking times according to the type of food being prepared and using your microwave until it is truly on its last legs.

20. Insulate Heating Ducts

insulation, home, heating ducts, ducts, air conditioning, home improvement

As much as 30 percent of the air moving through your duct system is lost to leaks. By insulating your heating ducts, you can save money on heating bills and conserve energy throughout your home.

21. Use a Programmable Thermostat

thermostat cooling

Being green sometimes means getting green, too. Installing a programmable thermostat to effectively monitor your heating and cooling systems can slash your heating bill by up to 15 percent a year.

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