By Isaac Church
Whether you’re huddling up for winter or aerating your home for summer, any time is a good time to make your home more sustainable.
The good news is there’s a lot you can do – some quick and simple, others more time-consuming and expensive.
But following just a few of these pieces of advice is sure to lower your next energy bill – and your carbon footprint.
Audit your water wastage
Your water usage is one of the best places to start auditing your home’s resource usage.
The most obvious target is a leaky faucet or showerhead: If anything’s dripping, it’s driving up your bill and wasting a valuable commodity.
If you can’t fix it right away, capture the water somehow and make use of it as best you can.
Even for fully functional water fixtures, though, consider replacing them with low-flow variants, especially on your showerhead.
Finally, if you’re in a rainy area, try putting together a rain barrel to capture rainwater and put it to use for things like watering plants.
Water is an easy resource to use more than once, so get creative – and sustainable.
Maintain your windows
Your windows are worse at retaining heat than insulated walls, so that makes them a vital area for improving the sustainability of your home.
The first step is to clean them and to remove screens from your windows that get the most sunlight in the winter. This allows as much light – and heat – to pass through as possible.
If your windows allow draughts though, you’ll be losing a lot of heat – and money, in the winter. Check for breezy areas around your windows and patch up any noticeable cracks.
Finally, switching from curtains to thicker drapes – especially during the winter – can help keep the cold out. Leave them open during the day to allow light to pass through, and close them at night to keep out lingering draughts.
More ideas for making your windows more sustainable can be found here.
Clean and change filters
Any kind of air movement will be inhibited if it’s trying to pass through a dirty filter.
Checking your furnace’s filter should be a top priority, one you should take care of often. Once you understand how long it takes to get dirty, you know when you need to clean or replace it.
This is important for a couple of reasons. One should be obvious: If your furnace is trying to push air through a dirty filter, it’ll take more energy to produce the same amount of heat.
But the other goes beyond sustainability: Dirty filters can lead to more particulates being put into the air in your home, which is bad for your health.
So make sure your furnace, your air conditioner, and everything else has a clean and/or new filter.
Greenify your home office
If you do a lot of work from home, that means you’re spending a lot of time in your home office – so it should be a top priority for making more sustainable.
Make sure your office is somewhere that gets a lot of natural light so you don’t have to use artificial lighting to do what the sun could do instead.
Instead of cranking the thermostat, use room-specific temperature controls for your office, where you’ll be spending most of your time.
This is a good principle in general: Only control the temperature in rooms where absolutely necessary, and close off rooms that aren’t in use.
Finally, consider replacing your office equipment with greener versions.
Switch to recycled paper for your printer and any notepads, and consider replacing your desktop computer with a laptop – which both saves on energy usage and is portable, to boot.
These and other greener office options can be found at Office National.
Use reclaimed furniture
If you need furniture, think twice before buying things brand new.
Used and reclaimed furniture is available everywhere, from resale shops to online services like eBay.
You can find great pieces that might otherwise end up in a landfill, saving the energy it would have taken to make an entirely new piece of furniture.
What’s more, using reclaimed furniture tends to save you money besides being green.
Tables and chairs are a lot better for this sort of thing, as furniture with cloth such as a couch might be stained or otherwise less desirable.
Any time you can give something new life in your home, it’s a smart move – and it can be lucrative, too.
There are a lot more areas where you can make your living space as sustainable as possible, of course.
Solar panels, green roofs, and energy-efficient appliances do a great deal for reducing your carbon footprint and your energy bill.
But as far as upgrades go, following the simple principles above wil lget you far, easing the burden on your conscience – and your wallet.