With Earth Day fast approaching, many are looking for ways to lower their carbon footprint and save money. Fortunately, no matter the age of your home or office, there are lots of small changes that will yield significant results when it comes to being kind to the planet and your wallet at the same time.
Changing anything about your existing home or office takes money and/or “sweat-equity,” so understanding that investing a little bit of your time, efforts and/or money upfront to save more money and energy over time is key to reaping the benefits of the “sustainable” or “green” movement. Whether updating an existing home or office or building new, read on for the energy and dollar-saving updates that can put you on the road to sustainability now.
Smart technology is here, and it’s highly likely here to stay.. The advantage of smart technology is that it allows you to program, automate, turn off or on, and remotely control lights, thermostats, appliances, heating and cooling systems, and other devices from your phone or computer. It can do everything from alerting you to activity at your home or office, watching the family pets, or even talking to someone at your front door, all while you’re not even there! Investing in smart technology will set you up for a more energy-efficient future and decrease energy bills, quickly paying for itself over time.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American family uses up to three hundred gallons of water per day and wastes up to 10%. Being mindful of water conservation and preservation is essential to the environment and saving money on water that is growing increasingly scarce and expensive every year.
Most water waste occurs outdoors, so repair leeks, install water-efficient irrigation lines, and install rain barrels if your county permits them. Indoor measures for water conservation include switching to low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, installing low-flow toilets or converting your existing toilet, and purchasing motion sensor faucets.
Back to Basics
New technology isn’t the only answer to making your home or office more eco-friendly and energy efficient. Home and office building owners can save 15 percent or MORE on energy simply by revisiting the basics, such as optimizing the insulation in the walls, attic, and foundation installing ENERGY STAR certified windows, and replacing weather stripping around doors and windows you do not replace.
Let the Sunshine In
Whether SMART or traditional, Window coverings can increase energy efficiency and savings on the energy bill. Simply closing the curtains at night can reduce nearly 20 percent of heat loss. SMART blinds, which automatically open and close for you will help keep heat in buildings in the winter and help building stay cool in by deflecting unwanted heat on summer days. They also protect your home or office from damaging UV rays.
According to this Environmental Health News article, we’re producing about 360 million tons of plastic a year, eventually ending up in a landfill. One of the most impactful things you can do is to reduce the amount of plastic waste you consume by buying bulk instead of packaged foods, using reusable water bottles instead of buying disposable ones, and storing food in reusable containers instead of disposable plastic bags.
Try the following experiment for a wake-up call as to how much plastic you are putting into the landfill. Set aside a bin and put all plastic waste in it – whether recyclable or not – for one week. Now consider that one plastic container takes hundreds of years to break down in the environment. Still, it never truly decomposes – it simply enters the natural environment as toxic broken-down plastic particles that affect wildlife and humans. Once you see how much plastic you’re consuming we bet you’ll want to make a change 😊
You may be surprised to learn that there are changes you can make to your personal habits that will benefit the environment and your pocketbook, such as simply eating less meat. According to Scientific American, mass meat production and agriculture accounts for about 40% of all methane gas emissions contributing to our carbon footprint. Buying locally farm-raised beef, chicken, pork, and fish is better for you and the planet, and while it may cost a bit more, skipping meat a few times or more a week will easily balance out the cost when you eat less expensive plant alternatives, fruits, and vegetables.
Other ways to make an impact are to plant your own fruit trees and vegetable gardens and to vote with your dollar – which means affecting supply and demand by only purchasing sustainable products.
Composting food scraps can also make a huge impact. Landfills account for up to “34% of all methane emissions in the US.” Putting food scraps into the trash makes things worse. Many think that putting food waste into the landfill is harmless because it will easily decompose, but this is far from the truth. “Trapped without air, food decomposing in landfill actually produces methane, a greenhouse gas over 20x as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat.”, and this methane slowly leaks out of the landfill or needs to be burned off (if not captured for energy generation).
With the changing climate and the buzz words of “global warming” justifiably at the forefront of world news, many feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the future of our planet. Our environmentally harmful ways of living are so embedded in our culture, it’s easy to feel hopeless and wonder if there is anything we can do. To make matters worse, we live in a world where we are very divided about whether there is a problem that needs to be solved!
The good news for those of us who feel helpless to make change is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Saving the planet while saving money can start right at the home or office, where small sustainable changes add up to significant results.
Let us know what actions you are taking during this Earth Month (or beyond) to be part of the solution, no matter how small, so we can celebrate with you on making a difference! Leave us a comment here and tell us what you are doing to express your “heart-felt” concern for Mother Earth!”