As we work to be more sustainable, an important part of environmental accountability is in the home. Between showers, lightbulbs, kitchen appliances, and washing machines, homes use quite a bit of energy and water. And while this is not totally avoidable, there are some things you can do as a homeowner to make your space more environmentally friendly.
Check Your Plumbing
No matter how many quick showers or baths you take, your home could still be wasting a lot of water. Much of the excess water that is used in homes comes from faulty plumbing, meaning you may not even see it happening! Proper plumbing maintenance is key for lower water usage. Begin by identifying if your home has any faucet or shower leaks. While these water droplets can seem insignificant, the average household’s leak can result in more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted per year. Most of the time these leaks can be fixed relatively quickly with some household items. Generally, the culprit is a loose washer. If you find that you’re having a persistent leak, it may be best to call a plumber.
Upgrade Your Appliances
Nowadays, energy-efficient appliances are taking the world by storm. Just about every appliance has a more energy-efficient counterpart. This is not only good for the environment, but for your wallet. Less energy wasted means less money spent. In 2019, energy-efficient appliances have helped save 500 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. This comes out to nearly $39 billion saved in energy costs. If changing all your appliances at once is a big step, consider focusing on the most energy indulgent appliances first. Central air conditioners and water heaters use the most amount of energy per kilowatt-hour, with 1450kWh/month and 310kWh/month respectively. In terms of basic kitchen appliances, fridges are the next most consuming energy source. Even just switching out one appliance can make a huge difference. Small changes can lead to big results.
Set Up Composting
When we think of becoming more sustainable, we often focus on gas, energy, and water waste. But another area when many people falter is food waste. Globally, roughly one-third of the food that has been produced gets wasted. That amounts to nearly 1.3 billion tons. An at-home way to combat the large amount of food waste that occurs is composting. Composting is a method of using food scraps to improve soil quality and potentially grow plants. Composting helps eliminate the amount of waste that ends up in landfills every year. It can help revitalize damaged ecosystems and habitats. There are plenty of resources to help with setting up an at-home compost. Additionally, consider inquiring about your neighborhood composting program. While this is not a universally common program, some areas have decided to make composting a group effort for better results and more recycling.
Utilize Your Windows
This last tip may seem a little obvious, but you would be surprised at home energy is wasted via lightbulbs. When looking at an incandescent light bulb, only 10% of the energy is used for light and the other 90% is lost. Ideally, you want to switch out all your lightbulbs for more energy-efficient options. But, if this isn’t necessarily a possibility, using less light to begin with is a great way to start. Proper window usage is key to reduced electricity consumption. Consider opening up your blinds during the day to let in and light and avoid turn on any bulbs. If you’re worried about too much heat, tilting your blinds upwards allows light to come in while also avoiding the direct heat that comes from the sun. If you’re worried about open windows and privacy, consider getting light-filtering curtains. These relatively sheer curtains block the view of people looking in from the outside, but still allow light to filter through.
Being more sustainable is all about making little changes in everyday life. Whether that’s driving less, being more conscious of your energy usage, using less water, or anything else, simple steps can go a long way. There are many places to start just in the home. Being more conscious of the resources we use and trying to eliminate waste where we can is a good place to start.
A true digital nomad, Emma spends her time writing and traveling the globe in pursuit of her next great adventure. From travel guides to career advice, she hopes to help readers see the world as she experiences it—helping others craft a life where they can work hard and play often.