How to Actually Make Your Home More Sustainable

How to Actually Make Your Home More Sustainable

Making your home more sustainable can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With some small changes and a bit of effort, you can reduce your environmental impact and make your home greener. Here are some practical tips to make your home more sustainable.

Reduce Energy Use

Reducing your home’s energy use is one of the most impactful steps you can take. Here are some ways to cut down on energy consumption:

Use Energy Efficient Appliances

When old appliances need replacing, choose Energy Star certified models. These use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. Prioritize the kitchen and laundry, as these use the most energy.

  • Replace inefficient refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines etc.
  • Look for the Energy Star label when buying new appliances.

Switch to LED Light Bulbs

LED light bulbs use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

  • Replace all lighting with LED bulbs.
  • Use bulbs with the Energy Star label for best efficiency.
  • Benefit: Saves on average $75 per year on energy bills for the average home.

Seal Air Leaks

Drafts from leaky windows, doors and gaps in the home’s envelope can increase heating and cooling costs by 25-40%.

  • Caulk and weatherstrip around windows and doors.
  • Seal gaps along the foundation, eaves, and attic.
  • Hire an energy auditor to find the biggest leaks using a blower door test.

Insulate Properly

Proper insulation reduces heating and cooling costs, and improves comfort.

  • Add insulation to the attic, walls, floors, basement etc.
  • Ensure insulation meets your climate zone’s recommended R-value. An R-value of 30+ is ideal for most climates.
  • Have an energy audit done to find gaps in insulation.

Conserve Water

Water conservation saves money on utility bills and reduces strain on water resources. Here’s how to use less water:

Install Efficient Plumbing Fixtures

Replacing old fixtures with WaterSense labeled models can reduce water use by 50%.

  • Install low-flow toilets, faucet aerators, and low-flow showerheads.
  • Fix any leaks, which waste thousands of gallons over time.
  • Replace old dishwashers, washing machines, irrigation systems with high-efficiency models.

Collect Rainwater

Harvest rainwater from your roof to use for irrigation and other non-potable uses.

  • Install rain barrels, cisterns, or a rainwater harvesting system.
  • Use rainwater for irrigation, washing cars, flushing toilets.
  • Reduces reliance on municipal water.

Landscape for Water Conservation

Strategic landscaping can reduce outdoor water use by 30-80%.

  • Choose native drought tolerant plants.
  • Install drip irrigation which is 50% more efficient than sprinklers.
  • Add mulch to planting beds to retain soil moisture.
  • Replace grass lawns with ground cover plants or artificial turf.

Reduce Waste

The average household generates 1.5 tons of waste annually. Here are some tips to send less waste to landfills:

Practice the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  • Reduce consumption and avoid single-use disposable items.
  • Reuse items like containers, bags and jars.
  • Recycle all accepted recyclables in your municipality like paper, plastic, glass.

Compost Food Scraps

About 30% of household waste is compostable organic matter.

  • Start a compost pile or get a compost bin.
  • Compost all food scraps, yard waste, coffee grounds.
  • Use compost to enrich your garden soil.

Donate and Repurpose Items

Give gently used clothes, furniture and household items to charity instead of trashing them. Repurpose items creatively.

Make Eco-Friendly Purchases

Every purchase you make has an environmental impact. Make sustainable choices:

Buy Local and Organic Food

This supports local farmers, reduces transport emissions, and avoids pesticides.

Choose Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies

Avoid toxic chemicals. Look for plant-based, biodegradable and phosphate-free cleaners.

Use Green Building Materials

Select FSC certified wood, and products free of VOCs and formaldehyde. Insist on green building practices for any renovations.

Invest in High Quality and Classic Styles

Well-made items last longer. Choose versatile classic styles vs disposable fast fashion.

Bring Reusable Bags

Keep reusable produce bags, shopping bags and water bottles in your car so you always have them handy.

Renewable Energy

Generating your own renewable energy is impactful. Here are a few options:

Install Solar Panels

Solar energy production has dropped greatly in cost. Solar panels can eliminate or greatly reduce your electric bill.

  • Add rooftop or off-site community solar. Size the system to your energy needs.
  • Take advantage of tax credits, rebates and incentives to offset costs.

Use Green Power

If adding solar panels is not feasible, switch to a clean energy provider that offers 100% renewable energy options.

Buy Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

RECs financially support renewable energy infrastructure. Each certificate offsets 1,000 kilowatt-hours of conventional electricity.

Get Involved in Your Community

You can inspire change on a broader scale by getting involved locally:

  • Attend town meetings and share your support for sustainability initiatives.
  • Join community greening and environmental groups to collaborate with like-minded citizens.
  • Volunteer for litter clean-ups, tree plantings, community gardens, environmental education etc.
  • Voting for leaders who make sustainability a priority brings systemic change.

While each change you make benefits the planet, together they multiply to create even greater impact. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. Each step matters, so persist, learn and improve. With time and commitment, you can make your home aligned with your green values.