Have you researched the cost of installing solar panels onto your roof? I did for the purpose of this article and it made me cringe. I can only imagine the response it would elicit from someone seriously considering the process. Prices went as high as $35,000! My college tuition was less than that.
Okay, so the price of installing solar panels on your home is steep, and you have resigned to wait until you can afford to do your part to save the planet. Until then, there are things you can start doing today to have a greener home. Here’s a list of easy habits to change that will greatly assist in lessening your carbon footprint and save money. You may already even be doing many of these!
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
When you turn off a fluorescent light bulb for more than five seconds, you save more energy than will be used when you turn it back on. It is one of the easiest habits to get into, since most light switches are very near entryways to rooms.
- Switch to CFL or LED lighting for your home.
Both types of light bulbs require less energy than reusable coffee cup incandescent bulbs. CFL technology has improved to the point that the bulbs are very affordable. LED lighting is a little pricier than other options, but it does last significantly longer. Also, an LED’s lifespan is not affected by frequent switching of off and on the way all other bulbs are. Because they give off different types of light, you’ll have to consider which lighting option is most appropriate for the room.
- Unplug Unused Appliances.
When appliances such as toasters, DVD players, and phone chargers are left plugged in, they steal small amounts of energy than can add up over time. Unplugging appliances can help save energy and money.
- Insulate your home.
Proper insulation helps to minimize temperature extremes inside the home during warmer or colder months by trapping a more constant temperature inside. This will help save on energy that would be used to heat or cool your home. As an added bonus – good insulation also helps to reduce noise.
- Wash laundry in cold water.
There are plenty of detergents available these days that are specifically designed to clean clothes with cold water. The vast majority of energy that your washing machine uses is in heating the water.
- Use reusable coffee mugs and water bottles.
Both of these items are cheap and easy to find. If you’re like me and you need to stop at your local coffee shop for a special espresso-based drink on a regular basis, your barista can easily make your drink right into your own reusable mug. Instead of spending a ton of money on bottles of water, keep a reusable one in your office or car. Both choices help reduce the energy and materials needed to produce paper cups and plastic bottles and help keep both products out of landfills.
- Store leftover foods in reusable containers.
Glass containers are the best option if you’re worried about chemicals, but remember that plastic technology has improved. You will definitely still want to switch food from plastic storage to something else if you need to heat it.
- Only buy as much food as you can eat.
I was researching for this article and I found a recommendation to buy food in bulk to save on packaging. That is a great idea if you live with lots of other people (think teenage boys) but I quickly realized it was no good for me. I rarely have to buy food for more than two people, so bulk foods would likely go bad. That would certainly negate any environmental good done by reducing packaging! It makes more sense universally to assess the speed in which foods will be consumed and whether or not they can be stored before making a decision on bulk foods.
- Reduce meat consumption.
I saved this one for last because I guessed it would be my toughest sell. One fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions come from the meat industry. Also, it takes thousands of gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.
Hopefully, this list will inspire you to make some changes while you’re waiting for the price of solar panels to drop. Take a look around your home. Spend some time assessing what types of green or not-so-green habits your family has. You’ll be surprised at how easy a greener home can be