What does it mean to go green?
For some, going green may mean recycling more of the products they use in their daily lives.
For some, going green may mean taking a variety of steps, no matter how big or small, to minimize the harm you do to the environment and reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible.
For some, going green means reducing the amount you consume and waste.
And for others, going green means protecting the earth’s ecological balance at all costs.
Going green actually means all of this and even more. Going green isn’t just a matter of doing a few things here and there; it’s a way of life. And once you make it a part of your life, you’ll quickly find there are many things you can implement that will truly make a difference in our world.
And because the best place to start becoming more eco-friendly is within your home, we’ve listed six important places that you can begin to make green improvements today. It all starts at home, and this is where you can begin.
1. Switch to energy efficient products
One of the easiest ways to go green is by replacing your current home appliances with energy efficient ones instead. While it may cost you upfront costs to replace a product within your home, the overall energy savings can quickly add up on a month by month basis. It can also keep you more comfortable, require less maintenance, and provide you with better design overall.
An easy way to know you are choosing eco-friendly products is to look for the ENERGY STAR rating on everything you buy. ENERGY STAR is a US Environmental Protection Agency. It’s a voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. To earn an ENERGY STAR rating, a product must be third-party certified based on testing in an EPA-recognized lab and be subjected to verification testing each year. ENERGY STAR ratings are given to all kinds of home appliances, including clothes washer and dryers, furnaces, windows, roofs, water heaters, lighting fixtures, even office equipment.
If an ENERGY STAR rated product is important to you, just ask as you are making your final selections, and you’ll quickly see what the difference is.
2. Choose more efficient windows
If going green is a relatively new concept for your home, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by putting your focus where the most energy efficiency can be achieved in the shortest amount of time. That means sealing up areas where heat loss can occur the easiest. To find energy efficient windows, look for windows that:
- Have an ENERGY STAR rating
- Have efficiency glazing in place
- Operate in a manner best suited to your living arrangements
Let’s face it, we all live in different manners. Some people go from winter to summer with the flick of a switch – they move from using their furnace to their air conditioner seamlessly. Others prefer to open their windows and let the air flow in and circulate as much as they possibly can. By knowing your style, you can work with a consultant to purchase the right windows for your home. They can make suggestions that will provide windows that will do their job effectively no matter what time of the year it is.
3. Greenify your plumbing system
The average American family of four uses about 400 gallons of water each day within their home. On average, 70 percent of that water usage is used indoors, with the bathroom being the largest consumer of water – a toilet alone can use 27 percent. All this means is one of the quickest ways to green up your life and make a difference is to start with your plumbing.
A home’s plumbing system includes a wide variety of products and numerous ways to make changes. Start by changing out your water heater and replacing it with a more efficient model. Then install low flow toilets in every bathroom in your home. Consider installing an on demand hot water circulation pump. Install low flow faucets at every sink you use. Even the smallest of steps can make a huge impact on both the environment and on your home’s energy costs.
4. Replace your flooring
When it comes to your floor, there are many ways you can install a green option. Think recycled materials. Think sustainable. Think chemically free. All will impact the environment in its own way.
Today’s homeowners love the concept of hardwood floors but there are right and wrong ways to go about it. If you want to truly have green floors, try engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood requires less wood than it does to produce standard hardwood floors, and, therefore takes less wood out of the environment. If your heart is set on traditional hardwood, make sure the wood is harvested using sustainable guidelines. You can also try some of the newest products in the flooring industry, such as bamboo or cork. Both can offer you a great looking floor while reducing your carbon footprint in the process.
5. Make the outside of your home more environmentally friendly
Siding is something that few homeowners think about when it comes to creating a greener living environment. Wood was installed when your home was originally put together, and outside of a little paint or stain, it’s easy to forget. Yet siding options have changed considerably over the past few years, meaning it’s a perfect place to consider your options when trying to save on energy.
With green siding, fiber cement is considered one of the most durable options you can choose. Fiber cement is made from a mixture of cement, sand and cellulose fibers. It provides water resistance, is fireproof, insect proof, and will help reduce the onset of fungal growth. It also often comes with a very long warranty. Proving that if energy efficiency is truly your goal, sometimes the best place to start is on the outside.
6. Give your deck longer life
If the traditional wood deck has caused headaches in the past, you’ll love the new greener options. While hardwood is always a popular choice, the new eco-friendly composite decking offers something more.
- It can keep your deck cool even on the hottest of summer days
- It can be cut, routed, and grooved just like real wood
- It is often made from innovative blends of recycled wood, recycled plastics, and fiberglass to give you a strong product that is both durable and easy to maintain
And while composite decking may be a bit more expensive to install than a traditional deck, you’ll love with the benefits for many years to come.
Going green is the only way to save the environment. Even little steps can help younger generations to reap the benefits. Small changes to your home may not seem significant, but the more small changes you make, the larger the outcome. Start making a difference and make your home a little bit greener.
Kevin Morse works at Franklin Building Supply, a one-stop solution for all the building supply needs. He loves to blog about home décor and DIY and often provides valuable suggestions for home improvement.