It doesn’t have to be difficult to turn over a new leaf by integrating some green energy practices into your daily routine. Read on to find some easily do-able ideas that will help you have a more energy-efficient home, reduce your environmental impact and live a happier, healthier lifestyle — all while saving some green in your pocketbook, too.
Make your own cleaning products. It’s easy to do, inexpensive and requires only simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon and soap. You’ll improve your indoor air quality, too.
Learn about the chemicals in your cleaning and household products and ditch anything that’s considered unsafe for more eco-friendly alternatives.
Don’t toss that toaster! Try to repair rather than replace small appliances that have minor issues. (And for bigger appliances and home systems like your washer and dryer, an American Home Shield home service plan can help minimize the cost of repairs and replacements so you can protect your budget and gain peace of mind in the face of unexpected breakdowns.)
Set your thermostat lower or higher (depending on the season) when you are asleep or away from home to save on energy use and costs. Install a programmable thermostat, if you don’t already have one, so it’s done automatically for you.
Replace any burned-out incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs with the ENERGY STAR® rating. They use about 70-90% less energy and last 10 to 25 times longer, saving $30-$80 in electricity costs over the lifetime of the bulb.
Use controls to reduce your family’s light usage. Dimmer switches allow ceiling and wall-mounted lights to operate at lower power levels and help your light bulbs last longer. Motion sensing light switches will shut lights off for you when you leave the room. Timers are another way to make sure your lights are off when you aren’t using them.
Unplug appliances when you're not using them or use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" energy use.
Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. Of the energy used to wash your clothes, as much as 85% of it goes toward heating the water.
Use a drying rack or clothesline when you can instead of machine drying.
There are many easy ways to conserve water at home. Shorten your showers to reduce your water usage. This will also help lower your water and heating bills.
Install a low-flow showerhead. You’ll recover the cost of it quickly with the money you’ll save on water and energy.
Install or replace faucet aerators on your bathroom, kitchen and laundry faucets. They’re easy to install, and they help cut water use by 30% without compromising water flow. For bathroom faucets, choose a 1.5 or 1.0 gallon per minute (GPM) aerator. In the kitchen, where you fill pots with water, a 2 GPM aerator will be more effective.
Plant drought-tolerant perennials in your garden to minimize watering. Different plants are appropriate for different areas of the country. Check the USDA Hardiness Zones map to find out which plants are better for your garden.
Don’t buy bottled water! Use a water filter to purify tap water instead. It’s much less expensive and eliminates the container waste that makes bottled water so environmentally damaging. For traveling or work, use a BPA-free reusable water bottle.
If you live close enough to work, think about walking or biking when the weather is nice. You’ll save gas and possibly parking costs while improving your fitness and reducing your risk of obesity.
See what kind of telecommuting options are available at your work if you live far away. By telecommuting, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save on commuting costs.
If you eat meat, try adding a few meatless meals a week to your menu. Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy and water. In fact, 51% or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. By reducing your meat intake, you can help minimize the environmental costs of producing meat and save money at the store.
Buy meat, eggs and dairy from local producers at farmers’ markets or by joining a local food co-op. These animals are raised more humanely and do not receive antibiotics, so it’s healthier for you. Plus, it keeps money in your community’s economy.
Buy organic fruits and vegetables that are grown without pesticides, which are environmentally damaging and have health risks. Or try your hand at growing your own in a community garden.
Eat lower on the food chain. This means less meat, especially red meat and large predatory fish. It’s better for your health and the health of the environment as producing meat is costly in terms of the resources used and energy consumed.
Before buying new, go online to find gently used secondhand products locally. You can use services such as Craigslist to track down items like furniture or appliances cheaply or even free.
For clothing and other everyday items, browse garage sales, thrift stores and consignment shops.
Borrow books and movies from your local library instead of buying new.
Share power tools and other appliances with your neighbors. You’ll save money and cut down on clutter in your closet or garage.
Purchase food in bulk to save money and packaging.
Wear clothes that don’t need to be dry-cleaned to save money and cut down toxic chemical use.
If you have valuable items you no longer need, consider bartering for things you do need. Websites like Freecycle allow you to barter and swap almost anything. And there are loads of clothing sites like thredUp and Swap that make it easy to swap, consign, and thrift your way to a new wardrobe on the cheap.
Keep your cell phones, computers and other electronics as long as possible so you don’t have to replace these items as frequently.
When it’s time to replace your electronics, donate them or find out where you can recycle them responsibly to cut down on e-waste, which is an ever-increasing environmental problem.
As a way to deliver more innovative, green solutions, American Home Shield is offering a new technology that allows members to use their smartphones to easily capture information about their breakdowns. A video diagnosis powered by Streem® video chat technology enables the contractor to inspect the issue prior to the in-home inspection and pre-order any parts needed. Not only will this save you time during the service experience, but it also reduces carbon emissions with fewer trips back and forth to your home, which is a winning combination for our busy, green minded members!
By adopting a few new green energy habits, you’ll save money and, more importantly, you’ll feel better knowing you’re helping to protect the environment. American Home Shield home service plans also support a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Not only do they protect your budget, but our contractors help repair your appliances and systems so they are back up and running in no time, reducing the need for replacement unless that's recommended based on your specific situation.
DIY tips are for informational purposes only. Please be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions and ensure your project complies with any applicable federal, state, or local laws and regulations.
AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.