There are many ways you can help improve the world around you, and one of them is living in an eco-friendly home.
However, Energy Star appliances and expensive physical upgrades may not be within your budget — especially if you’re just out of school, or just moving into your first home. Instead of investing in these high-ticket items, consider what small changes you can make that are still effective without going over budget.
1. Switch to Energy Efficient Lighting
You’ll pay around $20 for a pack of energy-efficient light bulbs, usually LED (light emitting diodes) or CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) and they’ll screw into any light source you already have in your home. If you want to take it a step further, and live in a region that gets a lot of year-round sun, consider solar lighting says Paul Barney with Budget Dumpster: “With the sun being their main source of power, you’ll see lower electric bills since solar lights charge up during the day and switch on at night — all using freely available energy.”
While solar panels may not seem within your budget, consider building a home solar panel system yourself with these tips and instructions. After the initial investment, you’ll start saving significantly.
2. Start a Compost Pile
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.” A compost pile can be started easily in your backyard, with little expense — all you need is a corner and bottomless bucket to keep your scraps from critters. If you have a garden, compost is a great way to add richness to the soil.
3. Replace Your Fireplace Doors
Much of your heat in the winter or cool air in the summer can get lost through the fireplace of your home if you don’t have fireplace doors — or yours are old, cracking and don’t fit right, and therefore leave room for air to escape. To make your home more eco-friendly, using less heating and air conditioning, install a new set of fireplace doors. The best part: they can rejuvenate the room your fireplace is in as well:
“Most people do not realize that a fireplace door now can be a wonderful decorative accessory to your overall room décor,” says Sam Wilhoit, of Brick-Anew. He continues, “The wide variety of frames and custom paint colors allow you to highlight any color scheme your room may have. No longer are you limited to area rugs and pillows to add that nice touch to your room.”
4. Purify the Air Naturally
Air purifiers can be pricey — and luckily, they aren’t necessary: “While investing in an air purifier is a sure-fire way to improve air quality in your home, the right houseplants can have a similar effect,” says Katie Holdefehr with Apartment Therapy. Why? Certain houseplants absorb chemicals in the air, which is exactly what your pricey air purifier is doing.
For example, “The bromeliad plant was very good at removing six out of eight studied VOCs — it was able to take up more than 80 percent of each of those compounds — over the twelve-hour sampling period,” according to Vadoud Niri, Ph.D., leader of a 2016 study. Other good houseplants for purifying include jade plant, spider plant, and Caribbean tree cactus.
5. Insulate Hot Water Pipes
“Without insulation, your house’s hot-water pipes act as a gigantic radiator, transferring heat to the air so efficiently that any water in the pipes — even if it left the boiler at a toasty 105 degrees — is barely lukewarm 15 minutes later,” explains Jeanne Huber, of This Old House Magazine.
She continues, “The solution: Insulate pipes wherever you can reach them by encasing them in rubber or polyethylene foam tubes,” This simple project can be completed for less than $60 and won’t take more than an hour or two.
Making your home eco-friendly and reducing your own carbon footprint doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Small, simple projects done over time can have a big impact with little cost.
Jessica has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time blogger. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness in San Diego. She’s written for Shape, MyFitness Pal, Reader’s Digest, AARP, SnapFitness, 24 Hour Fitness and more. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for health articles, workouts tips and more.
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