Cheap Green: Eco-Friendly Living for Less
By: Danny Lipford
Making your home and lifestyle more environmentally friendly doesn’t have to clean out your bank account. Here are some ideas that can help the planet and save energy on your utility bills without spending a bundle.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
The first line of defense in keeping the air in your home clean is to install a high quality air filter on your heating/cooling system and change it regularly (every 1-3 months).
Houseplants improve air quality by filtering the air, absorbing harmful chemicals, and releasing oxygen. The most effective plants for cleaning the air are:
- Bamboo palm
- Chinese evergreen
- Cornstalk Dracaena
- English ivy
- Golden pothos
- Janet Craig Dracaena
- Peace lily
- Spider plant
- Weeping fig
How to Reduce Heating and Cooling Costs
There are a number of simple ways to save on heating and cooling cost for your home, such as:
- Open curtains and blinds on the sunny side of your house during the day in winter to reduce heating bills, then close them at night to retain the heat.
- To save on air conditioning costs, keep curtains and blinds closed on the sunny sides of the house during the summer, or install window film to keep sunlight out.
- Plant trees that shed their leaves in winter (such as oak, maple, hickory, beech, poplar) on the south and west sides of your house to block the sun in summer and let the heat through in winter.
- Raise your thermostat in the summer and lower it in the winter or install a programmable thermostat to do it for you.
- Dress warmly indoors in the winter and wear thin clothes in the summer.
- Set ceiling fans on reverse and run on low in the winter to circulate warm air around the room. Put fans on forward during the summer to cool your skin by evaporation.
- Seal up the outside of your home by filling holes and caulking cracks.
- Replace worn weather stripping around windows and doors.
- Inspect ductwork on your heating/cooling system for leaks and holes.
- Check attic to make sure you have adequate insulation and add some if needed.
How to Go Green in the Kitchen
Environmentally friendly steps you can take in the kitchen include:
- Avoid using the oven in the summer, use the microwave instead.
- Reduce the amount of time the refrigerator door is open.
- Run full loads in the dishwasher and don’t prerinse dishes.
- Eliminate buying bottled water and use a water filter instead.
How to Save in the Laundry Room
To save both energy and water when washing and drying your clothes:
- Use cold water settings on washer and run only full loads.
- Keep the lint filter and vent pipe clean on the dryer.
- Dry clothes on a clothes line if possible.
- Don’t overfill the clothes dryer.
How to Save on Hot Water
To save energy on hot water:
- Lower the hot water heater thermostat to 120º F.
- Insulate hot water pipes.
- Drain hot water heater annually to remove sediment.
How to Save Water
To conserve water in your home:
- Monitor your water meter for plumbing leaks in your home, and repair any you find.
- Turn off water when shaving or brushing your teeth.
- Reduce the time spent in the shower
- Replace your existing showerheads with low-flow models.
- Install low-flow aerators on faucets.
Start Recycling and Reusing
Begin recycling to reduce the waste going to the landfill, and dispose of hazardous materials properly.
Items to recycle include:
- Plastic (bags and containers)
- Metal cans
- Aluminum cans
Dispose of these hazardous items properly:
- CFL bulbs and fluorescent tube
- Household chemicals and paints
- Kitchen grease
- Motor oil
- Electronic devices including televisions, computers, printers, and cell phones.
Reusing existing products is even better for the environment than recycling. Donate unwanted items to a thrift or reuse store and purchase reused materials for home improvement projects when possible.
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
How to Removing Grease
To remove grease from kitchen cabinets, heat a damp sponge in the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds. Put on gloves, spray the cabinet with a citrus based cleaner, and use the hot sponge to help cut through the grease. Wipe any residue off using a paper towel.
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Concrobium Mold Control
Mold in your home is unsightly and can present a health hazard. Concrobium Mold Control kills and prevents mold without dangerous chemicals. It’s odorless and contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Concrobium Mold Control is available at The Home Depot.
Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Low-Flow Showerheads Save Water
Showers account for almost a fourth of individual water use in the home. Replacing your existing showerheads with low-flow showerheads will save both water and energy. For more ways to reduce the amount of water you use, see our article on Water Conservation in the Home.