Create a More Sustainable Home in Few Easy Steps

Although many people are becoming concerned about the environment, we often hear that switching to a sustainable lifestyle requires going through drastic changes. Not only is this far from the truth, but there are actually many ways of reducing your household CO2 footprint while still living comfortably.

Set the thermostat right

About 44% of the energy used in an average American home goes to heating and cooling. In the cold days, try lowering the pre-set temperature or just put on some warmer clothes. In the summer, turn down the AC to 25°C at least when you’re awake and about. Many homeowners turn off the heating/cooling completely when they are away from home, which is wrong since more energy is used in reaching the desired temperature from start than maintaining a slightly lower or higher than the desired value.

Use green insulation

Among the many sustainable insulation options available today, sheep’s wool is harder to find but has unbelievable moisture-wicking properties. Recycled cotton and denim are more available than wool, and although not as efficient, they are 100% recyclable. Apart from heat insulation, therma-cork also has noise-canceling properties, and most importantly negative carbon footprint. Made from recycled paper and cardboard, cellulose is also a popular green option, but with a slightly higher risk of being flammable.

Get your plumbing in line

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When talking about sustainability, we often consider practices related to energy consumption. However being eco-friendly means taking a holistic approach to living, which also includes saving water. Take time and fix any leaks, and even if there are none, there are ways you can reduce water consumption. Apart from installing a low-flow showerhead and aerated sink faucets, adopt a habit of not running water while brushing teeth or shaving.

Switch to LEDs

Aside of being up to 80% more efficient than conventional bulbs, which have already been banned in many developed countries, LED lights also last much longer than both incandescent and compact fluorescent lights (CFL). So besides saving energy, you’re directly saving money. While some time ago the choice of LEDs was somewhat limited, nowadays you can find LED bulbs of different warmth of white, and many homeowners use them alongside dimmer switches for additional savings.  

Adopt natural cleaning products

Harmful chemicals used in many cleaning products are bad for the environment. Once the washing is done they find their way to the water supply, soil, or even worse to groundwater. Unfortunately, you can’t trust that wastewater processing facilities will filter out every harmful compound. What you can do is use natural products like vinegar, citric acid, and bicarbonate soda for many daily cleaning tasks where the caustic chemical will do more harm than good.

Maximize on greenery

Most homeowners would like to add more green surfaces to their homes, but lack of space often limits them to a planter or two. And then someone thought of a vertical garden that solves the space issue. These green walls are a creative way to add greenery to any outdoor or indoor space. Vertical gardens can be used to camouflage gutters, drain pipes or any other outdoor feature you want to disguise. Indoors, they can breathe life into any space, especially since you can choose and mix the plants, creating themes of your liking.

Grow your food

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Eating home-grown vegetables isn’t only better for our health, but also reduces the carbon footprint. For comparison, red meat has a carbon footprint 3 to 5 times larger than that of chicken, and up to 18 times more than that of vegetables and beans. Not to mention that growing livestock releases methane which is 30 times more harmful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The food we buy in supermarkets travels a lot of miles, losing up to 45% of its nutritional values. So if you can’t grow your vegetables, at least buy food from local farmers.

Collect rainwater

A rainwater tank can help you save a lot of water every year. All that water can be used for household chores or watering. An average water tank holds 4,500 liters of water. And if you live in areas with little rainfall, every drop counts. Collected rainwater can be also used to make a small fountain in your yard or to fill a small pond. That will definitely attract some water-loving wildlife.

Buy recycled furniture

Don’t be one of those people who go to a big name furniture store and buy the latest and the newest only because it’s on sale. Instead consider furniture that is made from recycled wood or other nature-friendly materials, which make a more sustainable purchase. You can still get a brand-new product but made with materials that would otherwise have gone to a landfill. You can take a step further and visit auction sites or vintage stores. Great pieces can be found and restored for a fraction of the price of a new one.

Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Our everyday practices and activities are the direct cause of this. By adopting some of these tips, each household can do their share in reducing greenhouse emissions. Green sustainable living is the way to make a change for a better future.

William Sandford

Will Sandford is a Sydney based wood architect, blogger and contributor on interior design and ecology blogs. Besides that, he is also interested in home improvement combined with green technology. In his spare time, Will enjoys surfing, cycling and rock climbing.

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