Home Design

5 Ways to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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Doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint and slow climate change starts with how you operate your home. You spend most of your time at home, and the way you do or don’t conserve energy as you go about your daily business, plus the degree to which your home is reliant on fossil fuels, can make a huge difference when it comes to your carbon footprint.

Start by replacing old appliances with more energy-efficient modern models. Buy high-performance windows to keep energy in. Add solar panels to your home to reduce your reliance on fossil fuels and the electricity grid. Put in ceiling fans to cut your heating and cooling costs. Buy used whenever you can, to minimize your carbon footprint.

Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances

The appliances in your home use up the lion’s share of your daily energy. Your HVAC, which keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, is also your biggest energy hog, since it’s on basically all the time. When it’s time to replace your HVAC, go for an ENERGY STAR rated unit.

You should also prioritize efficiency when replacing your other appliances. There’s no need to ditch an old appliance that still works, even if it’s not the most efficient, but if you’re replacing a dishwasher, range, refrigerator, microwave, or window air conditioning unit anyway, why not buy one that’s energy efficient? Using ENERGY STAR appliances will cut your energy costs and be friendlier to the environment.

Put in High-Performance Windows

Most of the energy loss that your home experiences occurs through the windows. Old, drafty, leaky windows can let warm air out during the wintertime and cold air out during the summer, ratcheting up your heating and cooling costs as well as increasing your carbon footprint. The older your windows are, the less efficient they’ll be in terms of retaining energy.

Installing new windows can plug leaks and make your home less drafty, so you spend less money on heating and cooling. You’ll be more comfortable, too. New windows typically have better efficiency features, like double and triple panes, effective sealing, and UV protection. 

Install Ceiling Fans

Heat waves are hard to cope with when you’re on a budget and can’t turn the air up. And the hotter it is outside, the more money you’ll spend just keeping your home at a reasonable temperature.

Ceiling fans can help. A ceiling fan can make it feel up to four degrees cooler in a room, just by virtue of the wind chill effect they create. The modern ceiling fans you can buy today are quiet, efficient, and powerful – most have several speed settings so you can customize the airflow in your home. It costs just pennies to run a ceiling fan compared to your A/C, and you can cut your heating and cooling costs considerably by running a ceiling fan in conjunction with your HVAC. And they’ll help keep your home warm in the winter, too – you can reverse the direction of your fan blades, which will allow them to move warm air back down from the ceiling and into the room.

Add Solar Panels

If you want to lower your carbon footprint and gain a measure of independence from the grid, you should consider adding solar panels to your home. Solar panels generate electricity from sunlight, and could produce enough electricity to make you fully independent from the power company. Many homeowners with solar panels even make money by selling power back to the power company. Solar panels will pay for themselves in energy cost savings, while taking a big bite out of your carbon footprint.

Buy Used More Often

The production of goods for household use is a huge driver of carbon emissions. Sixty percent of global greenhouse emissions can be linked to the production of consumer goods. Buying used or refurbished home goods, furniture, and appliances can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

And, in many cases, you’ll get higher-quality stuff if you buy vintage. For example, antique furniture was made in the days when wood for building was harvested from the wild – and that wood is stronger than modern wood because it was allowed to grow slowly in natural conditions, and therefore formed more growth rings. Older appliances may not be the most efficient, but if you can find appliances that predate the more recent practice of planned obsolescence, they’ll last forever. Just ask anyone who inherited their grandmother’s stand mixer or sewing machine.

If you’re concerned about climate change and want to do your part to mitigate it, making your home more sustainable is a good place to start. With just a few simple changes, you could drastically reduce your carbon footprint, save money, and feel better about yourself, too.

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