18 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Healthier and Greener in Just One Weekend (or

Top tips to make your home greener and healthier

Heat and cool efficiently

Heating and air-conditioning account for nearly half of the energy we use at home, so every little bit makes a difference. Adjust your thermostat by one degree for eight hours a day, and you could save 1% on your monthly heating bills; Do this for 24 hours and save 3%

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Start a compost pile in your backyard

It’s a great way to dispose of and reuse vegetable scraps, lawn trimmings, dead leaves, other organic waste, and even fireplace ashes.

Fix that leaky faucet or toilet

A dripping faucet can waste 74 gallons of water a day, while a leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons a day. Repairing your leaky toilet or faucet may seem like a drop in the bucket (pun intended), but it can save up to 73,000 gallons of water a year.

Cover your pool when you’re not using it

This simple change not only keeps your pool water clean, but it also protects it from evaporation – saving you the headache and waste of water refilling it.

Change energy-efficient bulbs

(10,000 hours as opposed to 1,500), consumes 75% less energy and comes in different colors, shapes and sizes. LEDs (light-emitting diodes), another great option, are even longer lasting.

Lower the temperature of your water heater

Just lowering your water heater temperature from the standard 140 degrees F to 120 degrees F will save money and make your tank more energy efficient.

Add power strips to your home

We often forget that computers, printers, DVD players, TVs, phone chargers, coffee makers, and microwaves (and almost any modern device) draw power even when turned off. By plugging these devices into a power strip and then turning off the entire strip when not in use, you can save up to 10% on your energy bill.

Switch to green cleaners (or make your own)

This simple change reduces air pollution both indoors and outdoors and reduces exposure to asthma and allergy triggers, as well as chemicals that can be harmful to your health.

Properly insulate your home

Adding insulation to leaky ducts, walls, windows and doors can improve your home’s energy efficiency by up to 30%. Insulation should be installed by green-living accredited professionals who adhere to HSE standards including safety equipment such as work boots and safety goggles.

Check the temperature of your cold food storage

Place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of your refrigerator or between frozen products in the freezer. Let it sit overnight and then check the temperature.

Wash only dishes and clothes in a full load

The average American family of four does about 540 loads of laundry a year, which uses up to 21,000 gallons of water, and 150 loads of dishes, which use about 1,500 gallons. Most of the energy used goes to heating water – about 90% in washing clothes and 80% in dishwashers. Combining half-loads, choosing shorter cycles and using cold or warm water instead of hot when washing clothes is not only more energy-efficient, but also saves time and money.

Use the power of the sun. Opening your shades, blinds or curtains to let in natural solar heat on cold days and closing them after the sun goes down can cut your heating bill by 10%.

Plant an edible garden

It’s a super simple – and fun – way to not only remind us where our food comes from, but also reduce your carbon footprint. The less you shop for food at supermarkets, the less gas you use and the less driving and trucks used to ship groceries from farm to store.

Invest in Energy Star appliances

Sponsored by the EPA and the Department of Energy, the Energy Star program guarantees that products labeled with them are energy-efficient. A household with Energy Star products uses about 30% less energy than the average household (which saves about $570 annually).

Let your lawn grow

Most grass species do best when they are kept at least 2.5 inches tall. At this length, there is more surface area to absorb sunlight, leading to thicker turf and deeper roots, meaning you won’t need to water as often.

Collect rainwater

Instead of using potable water from your hose to water your lawn, landscaping and garden, use collected rainwater. Set up a rain barrel so that water from your home’s gutters, garage, shed or other structure is directed into the barrel through a downspout.

Avoid the clothes dryer

Instead, take advantage of the warm, sunny and frequent spring and summer days by drying your clothes on the clothesline. If a clothesline isn’t an option (or the weather isn’t cooperating), try an indoor drying rack.

Become a plant person

Indoor greenery not only breathes life and color into your home, but it cleans the air. Many of the furniture, carpeting and paints we use indoors emit chemicals that we breathe. Fortunately, cleaning the air is as easy as decorating with plants. Many species are particularly good at removing pollutants and purifying your air, such as those on this list.

the writer Marnie Oursler

the green

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