If I could afford it, I’d completely gut my home and give it a green whole house remodel like this one so I could live in greater harmony with the environment — making sure to repurpose or recycle all of the demolished materials, of course! However, those of us who aren’t so financially blessed can still do quite a lot to help our homes co-exist peacefully with Mother Nature. When it comes to green living, small changes can add up to big environmental benefits.
Here are three ways you can make your home greener.
1. Tighten up your water and energy consumption.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to make your home more energy efficient. In fact, you can usually recoup much of your investment in reduced utility bills.
- Install energy-efficient kitchen appliances, which can save you bucks down the road.
- Get a tankless water heater; a local plumber can install it for you.
- Switch out your plumbing fixtures for more efficient models, such as low-flow shower heads.
- Fix any leaky pipes or perpetually running toilets.
2. Practice green lawn care.
It’s a bit shocking to realize how large an impact your lawn can have on the environment. Besides the gallons of water you put into keeping your grass green, any chemicals you use outdoors will end up in your neighborhood’s storm drain. However, with just a few improvements, your lawn can actually become one of nature’s biggest urban allies.
- Plant native, drought-resistant foliage that requires less watering and is naturally resistant to pests.
- Install a drip irrigation system.
- Use a mulching mower that leaves the clippings on your lawn to act as fertilizer.
- Compost, and use the results to fertilize your plants. If you’re short on space, you can even compost on your deck.
- Collect rainwater in a barrel or other rainwater harvesting system, and use it for watering your garden.
- Plant a rain garden to absorb storm water runoff.
- Avoid pesticides by including plants that act as green pest control agents in your garden.
3. Use reclaimed wood and other recycled materials.
Sometimes green living means trying to choose the lesser of two evils. Should I contribute to pollution by using synthetic flooring, or encourage deforestation by opting for hardwoods? Reclaimed wood flooring, furniture and other recycled materials take the evil out of the equation entirely. Not only can you reduce the demand for new wood and avoid using petroleum-based products, but you can:
- Prevent perfectly good materials from being dumped in landfills or incinerators.
- Get breathtaking exotic hardwoods without exploitative logging.
- Have a fascinating story to tell your friends about where your flooring or furniture came from.