Sustainability at Home Made Easy in 4 Insanely Simple Steps

a woman lying in the grass - sustainability at home

Earth Day is the time to focus on what we can do to make our world a better place and ensure our children’s children can breathe fresh air in 30, 50, or even 100 years. 

A good place to start is in the home. Of course, sustainability at home is much more than turning off the water as you brush your teeth. It includes energy efficiency, the cleaning products you use, and even how you get rid of items you no longer want. 

#1 – With energy efficiency, the small stuff counts

When it comes to energy efficiency, there are a few small steps you can take that can have an immediate impact, and then there are much larger investments that take time but have long-lasting effects. 

Get rid of energy vampires 

Energy vampires can be a real suck on resources. Appliances use energy even when they are off, so one easy way to prevent wasted energy is to simply unplug your appliances when they’re not in use! 

Of course, most of us will not unplug our TVs or even our phone chargers. This is where smart outlets and smart power strips come in. Using an app on your phone, you can leave your devices plugged in but turn off the outlet and vanquish those energy vampires, making your home more energy efficient. 

Keep calm and turn LEDs on 

Possibly the easiest and most cost effective way to make your home more energy efficient is to upgrade all of your lighting to LED lighting. Not only do these bulbs last longer, saving you money, but they also don’t use as much energy as incandescent light bulbs. So even though the initial cost of an LED bulb is more than a traditional one, the long-term savings will more than make up for it. 

#2 – Go big and enjoy energy savings at home

a smart thermostat being controlled by a phone - how to be energy efficient at home
 Save money and the Earth with a smart thermostat.

Get smart with your HVAC 

A smart thermostat is such an easy way to save energy and money. This device will learn your habits and turn the heat down at night or when you’re away at work. You can also easily control the temperature of your home from anywhere, which means you can turn off the air conditioning while on vacation or even when you’re just lying in bed. (No need to get up!)  

With 29% of your utility bill (on average) going to heating and cooling, not only will a smart thermostat help the environment, but it will also help your wallet.

Apply savings to your appliances

If you have the budget, there are larger investments you can make to increase sustainability at home. When you are in the market for a new roof, consider adding solar panels to your home. (You may even be entitled to a tax credit!)

Two men installing solar panels on a roof - sustainability at home
Reduce your carbon footprint by installing solar panels.

When your water heater needs to be replaced, see if an on-demand tankless water heater is the best fit for your family. (Also, don’t forget to flush your hot water heater! This simple task will keep it working efficiently and prolong its lifespan.) 

Whether you need to replace your HVAC, refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer, dryer, or hot water heater, always replace your appliances with ENERGY STAR-rated models. Households with ENERGY STAR appliances save an average of $450 on their energy costs each year. 

#3 – Use sustainable cleaning products

Traditional cleaning products can be harmful to the environment as they contain harmful chemicals and are packaged in non-recyclable plastics. (Boo-hiss!) Thankfully, there has been a cleaning product revolution over the last few years, and now the most-used rooms in your home can be cleaned with a more sustainable option. 

In your laundry room 

Here, switch out the bulky liquid detergent containers or laundry pods for laundry sheets. These pre-measured sheets are easy to use and contain zero plastic. This means you’re getting rid of the containers and you don’t have to worry about pods not fully breaking down and plastics entering your water system (and your body, unfortunately). 

As an added bonus, most laundry sheets are made from plant-derived ingredients and are available in fragrance and dye-free options. You can also swap out your fabric softener for more sustainable options. Consider using dryer balls, plant-derived sheets, or laundry inserts. You can even DIY some products using vinegar, baking soda, and water!

A basket full of spray bottles - sustainability at home
Swap out your cleaning products for eco-friendly options.

In your bathroom and kitchen

In these rooms, swap out standard chemicals for plant-based, eco-friendly options. When it comes to cleaning your oven, ditch the gooey stuff and use a pumice stone. It works better and is natural. (Not sure how to clean out your oven? We’ve got your back.) 

When cleaning your sinks and cooktops, use a powder made with natural ingredients such as limestone and baking soda. Countertops and windows can benefit from sprays that use vinegar, citrus, or other naturally derived ingredients. Your home and the environment will thank you.

#4 – Declutter the sustainable way

Even the most sustainable homeowner has to declutter at some point. Depending on what you need to get rid of, there are ways to make sure your unwanted items do not end up in a landfill. 

When cleaning out your closet, don’t toss old clothes in the trash. Instead, look for donation bins such as PBA, Salvation Army, or other local charities around town. Consignment shops in your neighborhood or online are also great places to donate your gently-used clothes and accessories. 

If you are renovating your bathrooms or kitchen, donate your old cabinet and vanities to places such as the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Most organizations will arrange pickup, too. 

For items such as furniture, toys, or knickknacks, hold a garage sale. If that doesn’t sound appealing, think virtually. You can add items to auction sights, or check out social media. Many towns have swap and share groups. If your items are not in the best condition and therefore cannot be “rehomed,” try to recycle or repurpose as much as possible.

Take care of your home

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