How to Make a New Home Eco-Friendly
Going green at home isn’t just good for the planet. It can also get you started off on the right foot financially. Start fresh with eco-friendly upgrades to your new home when you move. From little tweaks to big changes, you can go green at your own pace, one step at a time. Get started now and celebrate Earth Day in your eco-conscious home.
Light the Way
Focus on lighting as you unpack after you move. Discard any old incandescent bulbs by taking them to your local recycling center. Replace the bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. CFL bulbs are more expensive up front, but save you money and energy over time.
- Save money by buying bulbs in bulk at your local hardware store instead of at the grocery store. The more you get, the more you’ll save.
- Read the labels on bulbs and use the minimum wattage needed.
- Install motion sensors on lights that only need to be on when someone is in the room.
- Use solar lighting outside your home to illuminate entrances and outdoor spaces.
Green Your Remodel
Make upgrades to your home after moving by investing in green building materials. Healthy, Earth-friendly alternatives are now widely available in a wide range of prices. Talk to your contractor or home improvement store about the savings associated with energy-efficient materials, insulation and appliances for your remodel. When you do the math, many initial investments will pay for themselves within a year or two.
- Look for eco-friendly alternatives to upgrade your home after your move. For example, choose bamboo flooring over traditional hardwood flooring.
- Upgrade windows to save energy and money. If you don’t have room in your budget to change out all the windows in the home, focus on windows that receive a lot of light or open to large areas of the home.
- Replace old appliances with new, energy-efficient models that work smarter and save you money on bills in the long run. Shop for EnergyStar-rated appliances for maximum efficiency.
- Insulate thoroughly. Before you work on expensive upgrades, focus on keeping your home well-insulated. Good insulation alone can make a huge impact on your home’s eco-friendliness.
Nix the Chemicals
From pesticides in your garden to the spray you use on your windows, you could be surrounding yourself with potentially toxic chemicals. These deteriorate the air quality in your home and may affect the health of your soil and groundwater. If you have kids or pets, it’s especially important to replace harsh chemicals with natural alternatives whenever possible. You can even make your own cleaning products for general use around the house.
- Use natural solutions to clean, such as vinegar and water in a spray bottle to wipe hard surfaces in the kitchen.
- Research ways to tackle garden pests and weeds without chemicals, such as boiling water for killing weeds and non-toxic treatments for bugs.
- Avoid chemical air fresheners, which do little more than pollute the air in your home. Try dropping a quartered lemon in your sink’s disposal to eliminate odors.
- Add non-toxic paint to your moving checklist. Most home improvement stores now carry low-VOC paint that’s easier on the planet and on your family.
Get Energy Smart
Pay close attention to your family’s energy usage.
- Control the thermostat. Program your thermostat for optimum temperatures. Use ceiling fans to circulate air so you can keep the temperature set higher.
- Schedule an energy audit. Ask your utility company to come out and professionally evaluate your home’s energy efficiency. Many power companies offer an incentive for participation.
- Unplug electronics when they’re not in use. Did you know your television and other electronics use energy even when turned off? Use a power strip to cut the power off when you’re not using or charging your electronics.
- Automate everything you can. Put sprinklers on a timer for the most efficient use. Use timers for outdoor lights. Look into remote monitoring that allows you to turn off lights in the home using your phone or computer.
Establish Good Habits
Part of being eco-friendly at home is adjusting your family’s behavior. Take steps to reduce, reuse and recycle in your home, starting during your move. When you cut down on clutter while packing, give your goods away to your favorite charity. Donate your moving boxes using a box exchange program or by posting a free box notice online.
- Start recycling. See if your city or county offers curbside recycling services. If not, look up the closest recycling center and set up bins in your garage or kitchen.
- Reduce paper waste. Use your smartphone for shopping lists. Cut down on junk mail and only buy newspapers on the weekends if you’re into coupons.
- Don’t ignore small home improvement issues. If your toilet is running or a sink is leaking, have it looked at sooner rather than later. All those little leaks can really add up.
- Conserve water. Follow your local watering restrictions and shorten shower times or use a showerhead that reduces water output.
Making your new home eco-friendly can involve home improvement projects large and small. Start with whatever your budget can allow, and you’ll quickly start to see and feel the benefits of a home built, cleaned and lit with environmentally friendly materials.
This article was written by Maria Mora for MyMove.com, an online resource for moving information, products and coupons.