When it comes to being green, the average person is more likely a murky olive color – regardless of how eco-friendly we all think we are. The United States generates approximately 208 million tons of solid waste a year – four pounds per person per day! – and that doesn’t even take into account the amount of energy wasted.
But even if you don’t have thousands of dollars to outfit your home with solar panels or the like, you can make small changes on a budget to make your home a brighter green than it’s ever been before. With your green improvements, you just might find yourself saving quite a bit of money as well.
Check out the following tweaks you can make to your home life to become more environmentally conscious.
Make Small Changes for Energy Efficiency
If you’re concerned about going green, you’ve probably already installed energy-efficient light bulbs. If not, that’s your first step. Next, look to where heat or cool air can slip in and out through cracks and install extra insulation or seal up drafts. Finally, if you can’t replace your appliances quite yet, make little switches such as putting in low-flow faucets and shower heads to reduce water consumption.
Repaint without Chemicals
If your walls look a little dingy, take the opportunity to go green and give your interior a refresher. Traditional paint contains VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), which not only give the paint that familiar smell but also can harm your health and the environment. However, most major manufacturers now offer low- or no-VOC paint for a couple extra bucks, so you can give your walls a new look while keeping the toxins out of the air.
Replace or Remove Your Appliances
Do you have an old refrigerator in the garage to store extra drinks or party dishes? You might be spending an extra $150 a year, says the Environmental Protection Agency, in energy costs for running that fridge. Donate the fridge to a local charity such as a women’s shelter and enjoy the extra money in your pocket.
As for your main appliances, although shelling out hundreds of dollars doesn’t seem very budget-friendly, it actually saves you money in the long run – so if your fridge dies, don’t despair. Look for energy-efficient models that have the “Energy Star” logo. These appliances use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than others, saving you money.
Choose Green Cleaners
Everyone has to clean every once in a while, even if we hate it. However, traditional cleaners are incredibly toxic to both your health and the environment. Eco-friendly cleaners can be purchased at any grocery store, or you can use items that you have at home for natural cleaners. For example, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and plain old soap and water are all effective in basic cleaning around the house.
What have been your experiences with making your home more green (without breaking the bank)? Share your trials and errors in the comments section below.
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Kelsey Castle is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in home topics such as greening the home, decor, and personal finance for companeis such as Mint.com. She lives in Washington, D.C.