There are lots of reasons to go green. One of the biggest motivators for going green, for many, is the savings. When you reduce your consumption you generally reduce what you spend by default. Of course monetary savings isn’t the only reason to go green. The satisfaction you feel when you successfully reduce your carbon footprint is pretty great. And, of course, it feels pretty great to do your part to save the planet.
Figuring out how to start “greening up” your home and lifestyle can feel overwhelming so, if you’re new to this type of lifestyle makeover, it’s best to start small. In this article we’re going to focus on some of the “green” changes you can make at home to help save energy and reduce your dependence on municipal utility systems.
Start With Your Source
Believe it or not, you’re likely already getting some of your power from renewable sources. Power companies are now obligated to source at least some of the power they provide from sustainable and renewable sources. If you want 100% of your energy to come from renewable sources, though, you’ll need to opt in to one of the plans offered by your local power company.
Often this means paying a higher rate (it usually only costs a few more dollars per month), but the other things you’ll do to reduce your power consumption should counteract the expense. And, if you’re lucky enough to live in a state that has deregulated its energy industry, you can shop around to find a better deal for the green power you want. According to LocalElectricityCompanies.com, for example, StarTex Power in Texas (one of the states whose energy industry is deregulated) offers plans that start at 7.7 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s pretty easy to offset.
Small Changes Around the Home
By now you’re likely using CFL bulbs in most of your light fixtures. As these burn out, you should replace them with LED bulbs. LED lights cost more at the outset (currently they’re about $20 per bulb, which is why you should only replace them as needed) but they use a fraction of the power that CFL bulbs use and have a much longer lifespan.
Use Solar Chargers for your small devices. While you can buy solar chargers that will keep laptops charged, those chargers usually pretty spendy. A solar charger for your cell phone or tablet, though, is affordable and will reduce the amount of power you’ll use charging your devices as well as the amount of phantom power that will be drawn through the outlet when you forget to unplug your device after charging is complete. As an added bonus, these chargers are portable–if you take one with you while you travel you won’t have to worry about finding outlets in airports!
Use Your Hands! Running the dishwasher saves time, sure, but it also eats up a bunch of power. The same can be said for your washer and dryer set. Instead of relying on these devices, use your hands! Hand wash the dishes each night and use a dish drainer to help them dry. Wash small items of clothing by hand and then dry everything on a clothesline instead of using the dryer.
Big Changes You Can Make at Home
One of the best ways to reduce your home’s power consumption is to install a smart security system. These systems, in addition to keeping your home safe from intruders, can be programmed to monitor your energy consumption and then do things like, turn off power to most of the home when the family is at work and school. It’s like a programmable thermostat but for your entire house’s power system.
Making sure to purchase and install only the most energy efficient appliances is also important. Don’t throw out what you’re using now, but as you can afford to replace things, do so. Donate your gently used appliances to places that need them, like homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc.
Install solar paneling. You might not have enough money to completely re-roof your home in solar panels, but installing even one or two can reduce your grid-dependency by quite a lot. Install them as you can afford them.
These are just some of the changes you can make both in the home and with your power company to “green up” your energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint. Start here and make changes as you see fit. Go as extreme as you (and your family) feel comfortable. Maybe someday you’ll be able to leave the grid entirely!