How To Be More Sustainable At Home
13 Ways You Can Bring Sustainability Into Your Home
With the new year in full swing, there’s no better time to switch up your routine and bring new habits or practices into your lifestyle.
Speaking of starting something new, one question we get asked all the time: How can I be more sustainable at home?
If you’re resolved to add an element of eco-friendliness into your home this year, you’re in luck.
We’re sharing some of the best ways you can be more sustainable at home and lead a lifestyle the planet will thank you for.
Let’s dive in!
1. Audit Your Home’s Energy
When you think of an audit, the first thing that probably comes to mind is taxes. That is not the kind of audit we’re talking about here!
A home energy audit, or a home energy assessment, evaluates how your home uses energy. Often, these audits will highlight how much energy your home is losing, with the goal of creating energy efficient solutions for those affected areas.
These energy audits can either be done by a professional or by yourself at home.
A professional home energy audit usually involves a thorough room-by-room examination as well as specialized energy assessment equipment, like infrared cameras or blower doors. One of the biggest benefits of a professional home energy assessment is that these assessors usually provide cost-efficient and sustainable solutions for all identifiable problems.
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However, a professional is not always needed to understand how your home uses energy. A diligent self-assessment can help you identify energy problem areas in your house, allowing you to prioritize energy upgrades to rooms that are the most severely impacted!
Partaking in a regular energy audit can help you save money in the long run, reduce unnecessary energy use, and improve the quality of your existing energy output.
2. Change Your Light Bulbs
One of the easiest ways you can be more sustainable at home is by swapping out your traditional light bulbs (we’re looking at you: fluorescent and incandescent lights!).
According to the National Resources Defense Council, more than 2 billion sockets still waste energy in homes across America.
This year try swapping in LED bulbs to cut down on energy waste. LED light bulbs use about 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs!
And these eco-friendlier bulbs can also last up to 35 times longer than traditional bulbs, meaning you’ll end up with more money in your pocket while still reducing your home’s energy consumption.
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3. Use Energy Saving Appliances
Choosing a more sustainable lifestyle at home doesn’t mean you have to tear down the walls and rebuild your home from scratch.
Some sustainable swaps are as easy as screwing in a new light bulb or switching out your power strips!
A common culprit for unnecessary energy consumption is, as the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy likes to call it, “energy vampires.”
Yes, you read that right: energy vampires. This term refers to devices or appliances that suck up energy even when they are not in use.
These unseen menaces rack up energy waste, making your home less energy-efficient and sustainable. In fact, leaving unused devices plugged in can cost you up to $200 more per month, on average, in electricity.
Save energy by swapping out appliances that operate with high energy costs to energy-efficient appliances, like those with an ENERGY STAR label. This label is a federal guarantee that the device will use less energy when on standby than traditional appliances!
You can also save energy by swapping in smart power strips for your large electronic devices. These energy-efficient power strips turn off after a device has been inactive for a set amount of time, eliminating unnecessary energy waste.
4. Weatherproof Your Windows
Windows can be a major source of energy waste. In fact, they can add up to 10-25% of your total heating bill! This translates to a major environmental cost, with 70% of greenhouse gases attributed to the energy usage of buildings, commercial or residential.
Prevent heat loss and environmental costs by replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows instead.
If you live an area that experiences frequent extreme weather events, you may want to also consider storm windows for added energy protection!
5. Hang Dry Your Clothes
In your home, the household items that use the most electricity are:
- Your heating system
- Your cooling system
- Your water heater
- Your washer and dryer
- Your lights
- Your refrigerator
- Your dishwasher
- Your computer
- Your TV
Taking the number four spot for electricity consumption is your washer and dryer. Cut down energy costs by adopting a more sustainable laundry routine this year.
You can start by hang drying your clothes. If you have the outdoor space, a clothesline dried by fresh sunshine is a zero-emission alternative to putting a load in the dryer.
If you don’t have an outdoor space to dry your clothes, consider purchasing an eco-friendly drying rack to help your clothes air dry indoors.
Also, if you only have a few items to clean, try your hand (pun intended) at washing your clothes by hand instead of throwing them in the washer. Better Home & Gardens has a helpful how-to guide for handwashing if you’re new to this method!
Or, if you can’t part with your washer and dryer this year, consider washing clothes in cold water only. Only about 10% of the energy used to wash clothes comes from powering the washing machine, whereas the other 90% comes from heating the water used in the wash.
6. Stock Up on Reusable Food Storage
Take a moment to process this staggering fact: approximately 72 billion pounds of perfectly good food ends up in landfills and incinerators ever year, according to Feeding America.
Reducing food waste should be a top priority in every household to preserve and protect our environment.
Reduce needless food waste so we can feed our families and our resources by investing in a slew of reusable food storage products.
Another popular method for cutting down drastically on food waste is smart shopping. Create a list beforehand and buy only what you absolutely need for the week to prevent unused food items being tossed in the garbage.
7. Give Composting a Go
Recycling food and other organic waste into compost is another way to add sustainability into your home. Composting gives our environment a range of benefits, like:
- Improving soil health
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Mitigating the impact of droughts
- Recycling key nutrients
The idea of composting can be daunting to some people, but we promise it’s actually a lot easier than it looks!
All you really need is a container for you to place food scraps during the week and a composting area outside for excess food scraps when the container fills up.
If composting seems like something you want to incorporate into your new, eco-friendlier lifestyle, check out the comprehensive Composting 101 Guide from the National Resources Defense Council to get started!
8. Swap in Sustainable Toothbrushes
The average person uses 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime. That’s a lot of brushes for one person!
And what's worse is that most of those toothbrushes find their way to the landfill, year after year.
Make your life at home a little more sustainable and prevent unnecessary waste by upgrading your old toothbrush to an eco-friendlier alternative.
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9. Say Goodbye to Paper Towels
This sustainability tip is one of the easiest to implement: switch your paper towels out for reusable dish rags!
Each year, households discard 254 million tons of paper towels. Just like plastic, this unrecyclable paper chokes up landfills and creates needless waste.
Reusable cloths can do the same job as paper towels, with less material and less waste. Even better, reusable rags often soak up more liquid than their paper alternatives!
Unlike paper towels, you can find reusable dish cloths in a wide assortment of colors and patterns, making them a perfect vehicle for showcasing your personal style. For example, this Swedish Discloth Set is made from environmentally-friendly cellulose (wood pulp) and comes in a delightful, yellow lemon pattern.
Who says sustainability can’t be chic?
10. Opt for Recycled Toilet Paper
We don't love to be the bearer of bad news, but this factoid can’t be left unsaid: the global toilet paper production industry is devastating our earth’s forests.
Unfortunately, millions of trees are consumed each year to create toilet paper. This not only worsens our climate crisis, but also endangers wildlife habitats and indigenous communities worldwide.
Bring sustainability into your household with the help of recycled toilet paper.
Who Gives A Crap is a certified B Corporation that specializes in sustainable, biodegradable, septic-safe, non-toxic toilet paper that is tree-free and gives back. Who Gives A Crap donates half of its profits to non-profit organizations focused on building toilets and improving access to water and basic sanitation in developing countries.
11. Install a Low-Flow Showerhead or Shower Timer
Unsurprisingly, the shower is a major source of water consumption at home.
According to a 2016 study done by the Water Research Foundation, the average American shower uses approximately 15.8 gallons and lasts for just under 8 minutes.
Purchasing a showerhead that has a WaterSense Label ensures that your shower will not use more than 2 gallons of water per minute. WaterSense certified showerheads are also 20% more water efficient than their non-sustainable counterparts.
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If you are not in the market for a low-flow showerhead, the Alliance for Water Efficiency has some shower water saving tips you can employ. First, they recommend paying attention to how much time you spend in the shower.
Taking a shorter shower, or ideally a shower around 5 minutes, can help reduce water waste.
If you are taking a hot shower, the Alliance recommends collecting the normally discarded cold water in a bucket for watering plants or some other use around the house.
12. Get a Reusable Garbage Bag
What’s great about this year is that so many reusable or sustainable alternatives are available for traditional household items.
Take garbage bags, for example.
Fifteen years ago, it would have probably been hard to find a sustainable alternative to plastic trash bags. But today, there are several eco-friendly options available on the market.
One such option is the reusable trash bag from Zero Waste Market. This 13–16-gallon reusable bag is machine washable, leak-resistant, and mold-resistant, and eliminates the need for disposable, plastic trash bags.
Cutting down on disposable, single-use plastic is a step towards a more sustainable home life and a step towards protecting our environment from harmful waste.
13. Renovate with Sustainable Materials
Have you been dreaming of re-doing a space in your home this year?
Well, good news: one way you can be more sustainable at home is by incorporating sustainable building materials into your home projects.
These materials last much longer than their non-sustainable equivalents and are crafted from recycled materials, which translates to less of our planet’s natural resources being consumed.
Looking for materials you can use this year? Consider a sustainable, decorative tile! All LIVDEN tiles are designed to pack a visual punch and are made from 65-100% recycled materials, so your home can be sustainable and stylish.
Let’s Get Sustainable
We’ve covered a few of the ways you can be more sustainable at home this year. But this list is far from exhaustive!
Do you have sustainability tips and tricks you use to lead a more eco-conscious lifestyle?
We’d love to hear them! Drop us a comment below to let us know the ways you’re incorporating sustainability into your routine.
Want to learn more about sustainability at home? Check out these sustainable home design trends we’re watching this year and beyond.
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