Living Green: 7 Tips to help you have a green home

Having a green home gives you a lot of benefits. You‘ll save money, you‘ll have a healthy place for you and your family to live, and it‘s good for the environment. So here are a few things that you can do to fight high energy bills and climate change.

1. Check your insulation:
Insulation is important in that it keeps your home from losing
heat. If you live in a house, make sure that there are no
areas in your attic floor that have inadequate insulation.
Follow the Department of Energy‘s recommendations.

S_I-house-LARGE-opt
Photo courtesy: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_sealing

2. Use Low-VOC products:
Always check that the paint you‘re using is a low-VOC or a no-VOC paint. When purchasing paints, you should look for the green seal. Also when you clean your home use non-toxic natural products or make your own green cleaning products!

3. Make Your Own Green Cleaning Products: Here are a few recipes courtesy of PathNet.org!

  • All Purpose Cleaner:
    Add 1/2 cup ammonia and 1/3 cup washing soda to a gallon of warm water. Use to clean floors, tiles, and painted walls.
  • Window and Mirror Cleaner:
    Put 1/4 cup white vinegar in a spray bottle, and fill to the top with water. Spray on desired surface, and rub with a newspaper or a rag. Squeegee dry.
  • Toilet, Tub and Tile Cleaner:
    Mix 1/2 cup borax and add enough lemon juice to make into a paste. Wet the sides of the surface and add the paste. Let stand for a few minutes, then scrub off and rinse.
  • Rug Stains:
    Dampen stained area with water, and rub in borax. Vacuum when dry.
  • Oven cleaner:
    Mix 1 cup of baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Apply to surface and let stand for a few minutes. Scrub the surface with a scouring pad. Do not use this recipe in self-cleaning ovens.
  • Drain cleaner:
    Three words – Use a plunger. A hand plunger used every time the drain slows down will take care of almost any problem. In you need a cleanser pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, and then 1/2 cup
    vinegar. Let it fizz for a few minutes. Then pour down a teakettle full of boiling water. Repeat if necessary.
  • Mildew:
    Make a paste from salt and vinegar and rub into affected area.
  • Furniture polish:
    Add 1/2 cup lemon juice to 1 cup vegetable or olive oil. Apply with a soft rag.
  • General air freshener:
    Simmer a pot of water with cloves, an orange peel and cinnamon.
  • Natural Pesticide:
    To naturally keep ants and other insects away, add a few
    teaspoons of orange oil to your green cleaning products. To kill
    ants that are already around, just spray them with diluted orange
    oil.

4. Plant a Tree:
No you don‘t have to wait for Earth Day or other holidays such as Tu B‘Shevat or Arbor day to plant one! Planting a tree can lower your cooling costs by up to 25% while reducing heating costs by 20%! They also make your home even more comfortable and provide a habitat for birds. Trees and shrubs that are placed properly can act as windbreaks shielding your home from the cold winds.

Photo courtesy: http://www.clipartbest.com/tree-planting-clip-art
Photo courtesy: http://www.clipartbest.com/tree-planting-clip-art

5. Optimize Your Water Heater:
If you don‘t have one, purchase an insulative jacket around your water heater. The jackets cost between $10-20. You can also insulate the pipes around the water heater. You can purchase pipe insulation for less than a $1for six feet. Lastly, turn the
water heater down to 120 degrees. This will save you money
and prevent scalding.

6. Program Your Thermostats:
When you set your thermostat back when you‘re not home or
while you‘re sleeping, you can save 10% on heating and
cooling costs. Program your thermostat to 78 degrees F or
higher during the summer and 62 degrees F or lower during the
winter.

thermostat

You can even recycle your thermostats. For example the state government of Maine has a program. Check online to see where you can do this.

CFLs
CFLs, photo courtesy of the Department of Energy

7. Change Your Bulbs:
Replace those incandescent light bulbs with CFLs bulbs. The CFLs might cost a little more than the incandescent bulbs, but you‘ll save $100 per year with them while using less electricity!

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