Green Living

green living

While much of the world is stuck in quarantine, many of us are just thinking about two things: when is this going to end, and what should I watch next on TV? Movie and television streaming services, already on an upward trend for the past decade, are enjoying popularity like never before. CNBC writes that in their Q1 2020 earnings report, Netflix told its shareholders that their membership growth “has temporarily accelerated due to home confinement.” Other services are enjoying a boost to growth as well.

Coronavirus and the Environment

However, it’s important not to let the current crisis distract us from the most pressing long-term threat humanity faces: climate change. As many have noted, the global trend of reduced transportation and production due to coronavirus is already having a noticeable impact on the environment. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reported a decrease in air traffic worldwide by a whopping 60%.

And it’s not just air traffic that has been reduced. With 80% of all American products being delivered by trucks, any slowing or halting of domestic manufacturing and imports is immediately felt on the road. This temporarily lessened need for distribution means fewer ozone, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide emissions.

However, unless we emerge from this crisis with more stringent pollution regulations and other environmental protections, this effect will be temporary. Furthermore, these changes alone, while certainly a step in the right direction, are not enough by themselves. We need action at the individual level and focus on green living if we are to tackle climate change in a meaningful way.

If you have been wondering how you can make changes in your own life in order to help mitigate climate change, you can use this green living list to get yourself started:

Tips for a Green Quarantine

Be strategic with dishes

For just about everyone, being stuck at home means cooking more than ever. While it’s important that we all try to support our favorite local restaurants as they try to navigate this partial economic shutdown, staying home all day means that we’re spending more and more time in the kitchen. This can be a great way to save money and eat healthy, but it does have a less enjoyable side-effect: more dirty dishes.

To do your small part to practice green living and help our planet, try to wait until your dishwasher is at full capacity to run it. While it can be tempting to run a cycle after lunch to get your plates, pots, pans, and silverware clean and back in their respective cabinets, try to wait until night time. Dishwashers use up a lot of electricity, so not only will you be conserving water but you’ll be reducing your energy bill as well.

Limit your driving

Food can be one of the greatest obstacles to green living. Purchasing products from the grocery store with excessive food miles contributes greatly to pollution, as do multiple trips to the grocery store per week. Add in trips to the gym, which most members visit at least twice a week, as well as various other errands, and you have a green living disaster. When you can, try to bike, walk, or use public transportation.

Use energy-efficient bulbs

Surveys have found that 48% of home-buyers rank energy-efficiency as the most important quality a home can have. Regardless of whether or not you’re thinking of selling your house, using fluorescent or LED bulbs is a quick and easy green living step that anyone can do. Eventually, bulbs will pay for themselves with the energy savings.

In Conclusion

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to green living ideas, but hopefully it has gotten you thinking about new ways that you can do your part to protect the environment. In many ways, lockdown has given us a special opportunity to reevaluate the way we live our lives. Let green living be at the forefront of these reflections.

The COVID-19 crisis has put a lot of people in financial trouble. Millions are unemployed, furloughed, or stuck at home. Many more are working long, hard hours from their homes. If you’re among the many trying to find ways to save money, going green can actually benefit your pocketbook. There are a lot of cheap and easy ways that you can help save the planet and your bank account

Reusable Water Bottles

One of the best and easiest ways to go green is to cut back on the amount of packaging and plastic you throw away. The best way to do that is to switch from plastic water bottles to a reusable water bottle. Now, water bottles can become quite expensive if you look, but usually, you can find some good ones at a dollar store that you can use to save money and save the planet by using less plastic. Depending on where you live, you may need to buy a water filter to drink tap water. Or you can start buying larger jugs of water to fill from. Either way, you’ll end up saving money in the long-run.

Greener Groceries

If you really want to save money, starting a vegetable garden is a great start, especially in spring when you’re likely to get returns on certain produce rather quickly. However, if you just don’t have a green thumb, you can go green and save on food by buying and consuming less meat. Livestock accounts for nearly a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions, but don’t worry, you don’t have to cut it out completely. Going meatless just a couple times a week can have a huge impact on both your wallet and the planet. You can also start composting your food waste, instead of sending it to landfills.

Heating and Cooling Costs

Did you know that heating can make up to 42% of your utility bill? You can change that by making super easy fixes. Put caulk and weather-stripping around your windows and doors to prevent your heat from escaping. To save further on heating costs, pull out all of your blankets and sweaters before turning up the heat. During the summer, open windows and turn on fans to cool off rather than using the air conditioner. Your kids may not thank you but your wallet will.

Electronics

Electricity isn’t always expensive but depending on how it’s generated, it may be harmful to the environment. If you can switch to a company that uses wind or solar energy. If you can’t do that, you can save a lot of money and help the environment if you keep lights off as much as possible and use natural light. You can also try unplugging electronics at night and remember to not leave devices charging all night. Appliances like washers and dryers should be used at their coldest settings and dishwashers should always be run as full as possible.

In general, going green is pretty inexpensive and can actually help you save money. And right now everyone could use a little extra money in their pocket.

What Is a Green Roof?

If you’re on the market for a new roof, you’re certainly not alone. Did you know that the need for quality roofing is supposed to increase by almost 5% through 2021? Between harsh weather conditions and older homes meeting their limitations, now is the perfect time to invest in a new roofing system.

The classic roofing option is asphalt shingles. These materials are perfect for repelling moisture and preventing mold and fungal growth across your roofing system. While they do need to be cleaned often, they do a great job protecting your home as long as they are well-maintained.

However, you might have heard of green roofing becoming more of a trend. While this option isn’t for every home, this eco-friendly roofing choice is a nuanced way of protecting your home and giving back to the environment. Here’s what you should know about green roofing and if it’s right for you.

Green roofing: What is it?

To put it simply, a green roof is a type of roof that enables plants to grow on top of it. These roofs are usually inundated with drainage layers to prevent heavy, water-laden soils from putting too much pressure on your home. However, modular green roofing options are becoming increasingly popular among eco-friendly homeowners.

There are two primary types of green roofs and they are determined by the weight of the vegetation. Extensive green roofs spread out the weight so only 25 pounds of pressure are put on every square foot of roof. However, intensive green roofs can hold as much as 150 pounds per square foot. As such, intensive green roofs are harder to maintain then extensive options.

Keep in mind that extensive green roofs are designed to become overgrown and should only be maintained once per year. If you’re more of a hands-on homeowner that wants to enjoy the flora on their green roof, an intensive roofing system might be the better option.

There are a few primary components to a green roof. These consist of the vegetative layer, soil or another type of growing material, a filter membrane, a drainage system layer, a waterproofing layer, and a structural form of roof support. While these roofs aren’t cheap, they can certainly be beneficial to helping the environment and contributing to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Why invest in green roofing?

Green roofing offers a few essential benefits to homeowners:

  • Homeowners can appreciate the aesthetics of a green roof
  • Green roofs contribute to lower utility bills since they help regulate home temperatures, especially in hot climates
  • Green roofs can be treated as a garden for the whole family to enjoy
  • This roofing option helps relieve the stress put on storm drains since they catch and use the water effectively

Green roofs are growing in popularity among residential homeowners, but they are already making their way into major cities as well. This is because they make commercial spaces more desirable and disrupt the urban heat island effect that leads to higher temperatures in cities.

Just about anyone can benefit from a green roof, but these roofs work particularly well in areas that get moderate amounts of rainfall. However, the type of plants can also be varied to accommodate hotter environments.

Green roofs aren’t for everyone but they are changing up the way roofers do business. Think about this option the next time you need to replace your roof.

Of all the ways you can make your home more eco-friendly, plumbing is a great place to start. Green plumbing is the combination of a few practices and steps that work together to reduce your water and energy usage. This makes your home and the world more sustainable. You can get starting with green plumbing by addressing the appliances in your home, being conscious about your water usage, and watching for damage in your plumbing.

Benefits of Green Plumbing

You lead a busy life, so why put your time and effort into greener home plumbing? Check out the ways green plumbing could improve your everyday life (and your wallet):

  • Lower utility costs. When you waste less water, you’ll waste less money.
  • Reduce energy use. A home optimized to waste less hot water reduces electricity and gas needed to heat it. Less water use, in general, minimizes your carbon footprint.
  • Make your home healthier. Going green with your plumbing not only protects the environment, but it protects your family from harmful pollutants.
  • Keep costs low overall. Sure, the initial cost of installing green plumbing may be steeper. But you’ll actually spend much less in the long term than you would with traditional plumbing.

Take Care of Your Pipes

Now that you know why green plumbing is a good thing, it’s time to look at the things you can do to get started. One of the first places to look is your pipes, since pipeline damage wastes over $9 billion per year in the United States. It’s especially important to periodically check the pipes in your water heater.

Pipelines move large amounts of water over long periods of time, which often results in the breakdown of the pipe material. Water traveling through pipes may contain chemicals that slowly react with pipe material, breaking it down. Other factors such as the temperature of the water and its speed of movement may cause slow erosion of the pipe material as well.

To prevent pipe corrosion and erosion, test the water that’s being transported through your pipes. You’ll want to make sure it’s not a danger to the pipe materials. Inspect pipes for high-pressure points and weak spots, and then strengthen these areas. Insulate your pipes with pipe wear pads to prevent damage from metal on metal contact and moisture penetration.

Reduce Water Flow

Simply reducing your home’s water flow can make a huge difference for the environment. For starters, install energy-efficient appliances when you can. Energy-efficient dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters can all help your home reduce water usage. Even updating your water heater with a new one can reduce the amount of water used.

You can also replace traditional showerheads, sink faucets, and toilets with those designed to reduce water flow. You can go from using about 4.5 gallons of water per minute with regular showerheads to 2.5 gallons per minute with low-flow showerheads. Faucet head flow reducers can reduce water flow by up to 40%. While traditional toilets made before the 1990s use about five to seven gallons of water per flush, newer low-flush toilets reduce that amount to just 1.6 gallons.

Watch For Leaks

Leakage is a huge water-sucker, too. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), household leaks waste up to 1 trillion gallons of water per year! Simply reducing leaks in your home is a great effort to become more eco-friendly.

Pay close attention to your water bill, watching for gradual increases or spikes in water usage. If you notice an increase in water usage, inspect your home for leaks. The EPA gives this guideline: during the coldest months of the year, if a family of four uses more than 12,000 gallons per month, there are definitely leaks somewhere in your home.

Another way you can tell is by checking your water meter, waiting two hours with no water usage, and checking it again. If the number has changed, then that water went somewhere. Check for toilet leaks, which can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day, and take a look at other areas like sinks, showers, outside fixtures, and water heaters. Dripping faucets count, too.

Use Innovative Systems

As technology increases, more home systems are popping up that can help you save water and energy. If you want to save the amount of hot water that’s wasted, try an on-demand hot water circulation pump. Instead of storing heated water like a traditional water heater, this pump heats water on demand, sending it instantly to the faucet. You don’t have to run (and waste) cold water while waiting for hot water to make its way through the pipes.

For cleaner water, you could install a whole-house water filtration system. This would absorb chemicals and pollutants from your household water at once, cleaning it before it ever reaches the faucets. Your family can rest easy knowing the water coming from the faucets is safe.

Water that you won’t be drinking, like that used in your washing machine or the shower, can be filtered through a greywater system, which cleans the water and stores it in a take to be reused. With a greywater system, you’re literally recycling your own water.

Change Your Everyday Habits

Once you’ve done what you can to make your plumbing system greener, your household can save even more water by changing some daily habits. Choosing showers instead of baths is a great place to start, as showers use much less water. When brushing your teeth, shaving, or doing dishes by hand, shut off the faucet until you need to use the water again.

You can also use cold water more frequently when washing clothes and choose high-efficiency settings on appliances when available. Dishwashers and laundry machines should be filled to capacity with each load to reduce the number of cycles you use. All of these mindful choices to not waste water and energy will reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

Do What You Can

Your home’s plumbing can have a large impact on the environment. Luckily, it’s a part of the green home equation that has many solutions. You don’t have to implement every single strategy to make your plumbing eco-friendly. Start with just a few steps to begin saving water, and you’ve already begun to make a difference.

vegetarianism

According to experts with the United Nations, switching to a plant-based diet can help in the fight against climate change.

Polyethylene, also known as polythene, is the most common type of plastic produced, with an annual production of around 80 million tons. Between manufacturing and waste, it has a significant impact on environmental conditions, but it’s only one problem of many. Another problem scientists are pointing to is how the animal farming industry impacts the environment.

To learn more about the connection between going vegan and environmentalism, keep reading.

Switching to a Plant-Based Diet Can Fight Climate Change

According to a major report about climate change and land use, the Western world’s high meat and dairy consumption is fueling global warming.

Scientists and officials said that if people would cut down on eating meat, more people could be fed using less land. The document was prepared by 107 scientists for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It states that the land can store more of the carbon produced by humans if used more effectively.

Finalized after discussions held in Geneva, Switzerland, the report stopped just short of explicitly instructing everyone to become vegan or vegetarian. In fact, scientists acknowledged that people in some parts of the world don’t have much choice whether they consume meat and dairy products or not. However, they pointed out that, in the West, it’s obvious we’re eating too much.

The Link Between Climate Change and Food

Climate change poses a serious threat to the world’s food supply, as rising temperatures, additional rain, and severe weather all impact crops and livestock. But it works the other way around as well, with food production having a significant effect on fueling global warming.

The agriculture and forestry industries contribute around one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, livestock further complicates the environmental problem, both by producing methane gas and also through deforestation to make room for pastures.

The environmental impact of the meat industry hasn’t gone unnoticed by vegetarians and vegans. #NoBeef, a group based in the United Kingdom, lobbies caterers to remove lamb and beef off of student menus. Meanwhile, in the United States, vegan burger patties that taste shockingly like beef are starting to gain popularity in stores and restaurants.

Soil and Climate Change

When people talk about climate change, the soil itself is often overlooked. But with human lifestyles and industries putting carbon into the atmosphere, it needs somewhere to go, and the soil is the second-largest store of carbon after oceans.

Plants and trees absorb CO2 from the air and then lock the carbon away in the soil. However, deforestation and harmful agricultural practices can damage the soil. This causes it to release carbon back into the atmosphere which compromises future plant growth. Unfortunately, climate change is only expected to speed up this process. In higher temperatures, organic matter in soil will break down faster, boosting greenhouse emissions even more.

According to the UN report, using practices to reduce and reverse soil damage will have an immediate positive impact on local communities. Improved land management, including managed grazing by animals and strategic tree planting, can boost soil fertility dramatically. This, in turn, would reduce poverty and increase food security for everyone.

Trees and CO2 Emissions

It’s widely known that trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, don’t the carbon emissions from human industry help to nourish the trees?

While it’s true that the extra CO2 can help mitigate climate change, there are several factors involved that must be balanced carefully for trees to be benefited. According to experts, any positive effects on forests from CO2 emissions will be negated if the Earth becomes too warm. In fact, the UN report says this may already be happening in places near the equator, where vegetation is being lost due to heat stress.

Another problem we’re starting to see is a lack of phosphorus in the soil. Phosphorus is a necessary ingredient for plant growth, and without enough of it in the ground, tree growth would be hindered. As a result, many forests may have already reached their limit for how much CO2 they’re able to absorb.

Personal Factors Involved in Going Vegan

The global pharmaceutical market is expected to reach $1.12 trillion in 2022. However, that number could be substantially lower if enough people adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet and began to take their health seriously.

Going vegan may be good for the earth but it can have countless benefits on individuals and communities at a local level, too. Scientific research has shown that a diet high in unrefined plant-based foods brings about beneficial health outcomes. Enhanced immune function, increased lifespan, and improved cardiovascular health all appear to be benefits of a plant-based diet.

Besides being good for everyday health, many people are finding that plant-based diets can enhance performance for athletes and others involved in frequent strenuous physical activity. Critics have said there’s no real evidence to back it, but many athletes — not to mention health experts — would disagree. In fact, many plant-based products have more protein content than meat does.

Other Environmental Challenges

Meat and dairy production and deforestation are far from being the only challenges facing the earth. Air pollution, especially in places like India and China, is a significant factor in the world’s environmental health. Water pollution and poor waste management are other disturbing problems that we haven’t fully learned to resolve yet.

But in spite of all the challenges, we have made some amount of progress as it is. And every person who begins to live responsibly, whether by going vegan or giving up disposable products, is making a significant difference.

Industries are starting to improve their practices as well. For example, each shipping container that gets recycled means we reuse around 3,500kg worth of steel. It also means saving all of the traditional building materials, such as bricks and wood, which don’t have to be used instead.

Although we’re just getting started, by now you can see that there’s something we can all do to help fight climate change.

Every 20 years, energy use in the U.S. doubles. According to the Department of Energy, lighting is among the leading sources of that energy use. Their research found that 22% of electricity generated in the U.S. is used for lighting. In a world that’s becoming more technological by the day, it’s important to know what uses the most electricity in your home, and what you can do to reduce that energy. Here’s a list of the most energy-consuming appliances in your home.

1. HVAC

Whether you live in the coldest or hottest climates, you probably use an HVAC system to help keep your home comfortable. With so much use during the winter or summer months, this is generally the most energy-consuming system in your home. Heating and air conditioning are responsible for 46% of energy use in the average American home. There are several tips you can follow to reduce the energy use of your HVAC system.

If possible, set your ceiling fans to operate clockwise in the winter and counterclockwise in the summer. Additionally, have your HVAC system inspected annually to make sure it’s at optimal function, and have your air filters replaced regularly. Bundle up more with scarves and blankets in the winter, and have your thermostat down to 65 degrees. In the summer, wear lighter clothes and have your thermostat up to 78 degrees. Lastly, having your blinds and curtains open in the winter can provide extra heat, and keeping them closed during the summer can keep your house cooler.

2. Water Heater

This may come as a surprise to you, but the second most amount of energy used in your home is your water heater. It can use up around 14% of your home’s energy. There are a few things you may have never have thought of that can reduce energy use. Whenever you go on vacation, always make sure that you turn down the water heater. If the water heater in your home is an old one, try wrapping it up with an insulation jacket. You should also consider installing shower heads that are designed to conserve water. If you want to upgrade your water heater, look into a solar water heater. On sunny days, your water can be heated by energy from the sun, which can help to further reduce the amount of energy your home uses.

3. Lighting

It likely comes as no surprise to you that lighting can use up a good portion of energy in the home. The Department of Energy studied the financial impact on the lighting used in an American home. They found that the average American home spends about 5-10% of its budget on lighting alone. The difference in the amount of energy used can depend on the type of bulb you use, and the amount you use the lights. Every time you leave a room, make it habit to turn off the lights. As often as you can, make use of the natural light of the sun to light up your house by opening blinds and curtains. As mentioned earlier, you’ll also benefit from the heat of the sun during wintertime and lessen the energy use of your HVAC system. Consider using LED light bulbs for more energy efficiency as well.

4. Household Appliances

Everyday household appliances can add up to a lot of energy consumption in your home. Examples of these appliances include ovens and stoves, washers and dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, and many other appliances. Efficiently using these items can save you a good amount of energy use in your home.

Washers and dryers can use anywhere between 5% and 13% of your home’s energy. To lessen the energy use, always make sure you wash full loads. Have the setting of the water on cold, and don’t overfill the machines. If you’re not in a rush to get your clothes dry, you can use dryer racks. On particularly warm days, you can set them outside in the sun. Lastly, clean out the lint in your dryer so it doesn’t have to work harder and use more energy as a result.

Your stove and oven can not only use energy but also indirectly cause your AC to use more energy keeping the house cool. When using ovens and stoves, the best time to use them is during cool hours in the day. This can help your AC not have to run as often. Whenever possible, make use of smaller cooking appliances such as microwaves and toaster ovens. Avoid preheating your oven except when it’s required for cooking the dish. Additionally, a few minutes before your meal is done cooking, turn your burners off. Allowing the remaining heat to cook your food will save more energy.

The best way to lower the energy use from your dishwasher would be to handwash your dishes. In the times that you do use your dishwasher, always make sure to wash full loads. Similar to your oven use, it’s also best to use the dishwasher during the cool hours of the day. In addition, to avoid having to use a second cycle, you can pre-rinse your dirtiest dishes.

With refrigerators, you should do your best to avoid overloading them. Make sure it’s set at the temperature that’s recommended by the manufacturer. It’s also important to maintain proper airflow by cleaning under and behind the refrigerator on a regular basis.

5. Electronics

Despite how often we use our electronic devices, they tend to take up less energy than other appliances. Nonetheless, there are helpful ways you can reduce energy in this aspect as well. When you’re not using your electronic devices, pull the plug out that powers them. It’s wise to make use of power strips to plug in all your devices. When you’re done using the power strip, you should turn it off. Be sure to also lower the brightness on your television and other devices. Perhaps the best way you can reduce energy consumption from electronics is to choose other activities for entertainment. Instead of watching TV or browsing the internet, you can choose to walk outside, read, or spend time with friends.

The main key to reducing energy use is to either use your appliances less or use your appliances more efficiently. You can make use of all these tips to help you accomplish that goal. It’ll provide the benefit of helping you save more financially, as well as helping the environment.2

There are many ways you can live a more sustainable lifestyle, from recycling your plastic bags to limiting your time in the shower each morning. However, one of the most effective things you can do is to give your home an eco-friendly makeover. But why would someone want to implement these upgrades? Well, the United State’s energy use is doubling every 20 years, which can result in higher levels of carbon in the air, increasing temperatures, and other undesirable effects. But fear not. Homeowners can take a few simple steps to curb energy waste. To learn more about some of the swaps you can make, and how their effectiveness can reduce your carbon footprint, read on.

Energy Efficient Windows

Most of our heating and air conditioning energy escapes through the windows — a whopping 30%, in fact. However, replacing your older windows with more energy-efficient options can be an excellent way to offset energy waste. You’ll want to do what you can to keep your home comfortable and your energy bills low, so opting for energy efficient windows can be a great way to go.

Energy efficient windows work well since they are double-paned and trimmed with vinyl. Some even utilize Low-E glass, which can keep your home cooler in the summertime and warmer in the wintertime. They work by reducing the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light entering your home. However, they do not obstruct the amount of light permeating from outdoors, so you won’t have to worry about wandering around in the dark. The thin coating on top of the glass also reflects heat, making these windows especially ideal if you live in a hot and humid climate.

These energy efficient windows will also benefit you in a handful of other ways. For example, your furniture will resist fading, while your skin will be safe from the sun’s harmful and damaging UV rays. Therefore, making the switch is a win for the earth, your wallet, and your well-being.

LED Lighting

This is a simple switch. Adding LED lights is another way you can turn your home into a more eco-friendly space because, unlike traditional bulbs, an LED (short for light-emitting diode) bulb is composed of recyclable materials. LED lights are also non-toxic. When you need to throw them out, they won’t pollute the soil, water, or air surrounding the discarded bulb.

But how exactly is switching to LED lighting better for the planet in the long-term? LED bulbs last longer and produce less unnecessary heat. They waste less energy and won’t need to be replaced as frequently. Even though they don’t waste as much energy as conventional bulbs, they actually provide better light quality. In other words, your home will be brighter and you’ll be making more sustainable decisions, all while saving money!

Improved Home Insulation

Though your windows are largely responsible for heat escaping your home, your house’s insulation also plays a big part too. Ensure that your insulation is working properly. If you notice your home gets beyond chilly during the winter, take the time to improve or replace your home’s insulation. Some other signs that the current state of insulation is poor may include:

  • a pest problem
  • excess moisture in the basement or attic
  • hot and cold rooms or spots scattered around the house

Cellulose insulation is regarded as one of the most earth-friendly materials to protect your home from the elements. It’s a recycled material comprised of 85% newsprint. Cotton is another sustainable alternative.

Much like switching to energy efficient windows, ensuring that your house is properly insulated can cut down on energy wasted, and help reduce your monthly bill and carbon footprint.

Energy Efficient Appliances

Upgrading to energy efficient appliances is another easy way to transform your home to a more eco-friendly space. These appliances can include washers and dryers, dishwashers, and water heaters. They work by utilizing a minimum amount of energy required to complete the household task. When shopping, look for Energy Star designations or WaterSense labels to find options that won’t waste energy or water. If your home has older appliances, you’ll want to think about making the switch to save money and energy.

Programmable Thermostats

Although nearly 50% of a home’s total energy is used for heating and cooling, you can ensure your HVAC system operates as efficiently as possible by installing a programmable thermostat. You can set it to your schedule and cut the risk of heat leakage while you’re out of the house at work or while running errands. This heat leakage can happen when the temperature in your home stays consistent for the entire day. There are even some advanced thermostats available on today’s market that let you control your home’s temperature through your smartphone, so you can adjust it while you’re anywhere in the world.

Second-Hand Items

Did you just move into your dream house? If so, consider purchasing second-hand items when furnishing your new space. While you may think this upgrade only applies to new homeowners, you can also implement it whenever you need a new couch or loveseat down the line. Buying secondhand, whether you’re purchasing plates or dressers, dramatically cuts down on waste produced in landfills. Getting into the knack of thrifting can shrink your carbon footprint down since landfills are responsible for 14% of CO2 emissions.

There are so many ins-and-outs of living sustainably. It’s a lifelong journey that requires constant growth on your part. However, with some of these tips and substitutes, you can shrink your carbon footprint significantly.

Your home is one of the most significant places in the world. It’s where you eat your favorite meals, and rest your head at night after a long day. So, why wouldn’t you want to create a more earth-conscious home this year? By upgrading to energy-efficient appliances, improving your home’s insulation, and a myriad of these other tips listed, you can feel better about doing your part for this great planet of ours.

Going green is more important than ever and incorporating eco-friendly building materials into homes is just as important as recycling and using water-saving appliances. While sustainable construction still isn’t the standard across America, the use of eco-friendly building materials and appliances is catching on quickly, especially among millennial home builders and buyers.

But what does it take for a home to be considered ‘green’ and how can you take advantage of sustainable building for yourself? To better understand green construction and homemaking, let’s take a closer look at the core components.

What Makes a Building Green?

To be considered ‘green’, a building must be designed or renovated in a resource-efficient and eco-friendly manner. Green construction is meant to reduce environmental impact, protect the health of occupants, and use resources more efficiently. This can be done by utilizing building materials such as bamboo, recycled plastic, wood, HempCrete, and AshCrete. HempCrete being created from the inner fibers of the hemp plant, and AshCrete being created using the recycled ash from burnt coal. While traditional concrete can last upwards of 100 years, these alternative options can match that longevity while having a lower environmental impact. Materials like this can be used to create modern and stylish structures without using excess materials that aren’t sustainable.

Other materials that are considered green include:

  • Steel Steel, particularly steel roofing materials are environmentally friendly because they can be constantly recycled and reused. Steel roofs can come in many different colors and can be highly durable making them perfect for green building.
  • Natural Insulation Natural fibers such as wool and cotton can be used as good insulation for homes. Likewise, cellulose insulation, created from recycled paper waste, can also be used in the place of artificial insulation options.
  • Non-VOC Paint Paints with low or no VOCs are better for both the environment and your body. Because they contain fewer volatile organic compounds, the chemicals responsible for pungent paint smells, you don’t have to worry about inhaling dangerous fumes. VOCs can also cause a host of problems such as difficulty breathing, headaches, and eye-irritation if exposure is prolonged.
  • Natural Flooring Bamboo flooring or carpeting created from cotton and wool fiber can be much for eco-friendly than synthetic alternatives. Because they are natural materials that can be recycled, you don’t have to worry about them never breaking down in a landfill if you decide to replace them in the future.

In addition to the materials used to build and furnish the home, energy-efficient appliances and fixtures are equally important. The average American home can use upwards of 88 gallons of water every day. To combat this, dishwashers, showers, toilets, and washing machines should all be energy rated to use less water and help cut back on the waste. Likewise, energy-efficient lightbulbs, clothes dryers, and refrigerators can help reduce electricity consumption.

All of these aspects come together to encompass what makes a building ‘green’. While steps can be taken to make previously constructed buildings green, when tackling a new construction it’s important to consider every building material to ensure everything is as sustainable as possible.

The Benefits of Green Construction

By far the largest benefit of green constructions is their reduced impact on the environment. However, building green can also have surprising benefits for homeowners and property managers.

Because green constructions utilize less water and energy, they tend to have lower operation and maintenance costs. For example, by using energy-efficient appliances and less water, the cost of both electric and water bills will decrease significantly. This makes green construction not just beneficial to the environment but also to your bank account.

The quality of the indoor environment is also enhanced with green construction. The conditions can include better lighting, temperature management, and air quality. For instance, green homes tend to rely more on sunlight during the day, while also removing harmful elements like VOCs from the indoor environment. These improvements can help protect the health of occupants, improve the overall quality of life, and reduce stress levels.

Green construction can also be beneficial for those looking to flip houses for a profit, as eco-friendly homes can go for much more on the market. They are also likely to sell quickly due to their desirability. Green homes can also be the beneficiaries of many tax incentives that can help homeowners get more back for their eco-improvements.

Between benefit the health of residents, lowing environmental impact, and saving you money, it’s hard to find a downside to going green. Possibly, the only downside is the chance of higher costs during construction. Additionally, if you’re needing construction site clean up after building, HomeAdvisor estimates that you could be facing an extra $150 to $950 depending on what needs to be done. However, with the money saved in the long-term, the difference can be easily made up.

Are Green Homes Healthier?

In short, yes. Green homes have many notable health benefits when compared to traditional homes. A few of the largest health benefits are as follows:

  • A Lowered Risk of Cancer
    Because green homes do away with VOCs, radon, and combustion appliances, there is a noticeably lower exposure to known cancer-causing chemicals. In Illinois, for example, one out of every three homes contain radon, the second largest cause of cancer behind smoking. By using cleaner and more natural materials, these risks are reduced, if not eliminated making homes safer and healthier.
  • Reduced Respiratory Issues
    Improved heating and cooling solutions, coupled with improved airflow, helps to reduce respiratory irritation and asthma triggers. This is because the air is kept cleaner and free from mold, moisture, dust, and other contaminants that could cause problems.
  • Reduced Cardiovascular Symptoms
    As will respiratory issues, some cardiovascular symptoms can be mitigated with the aid of better circulation and air quality, both of which could impact blood pressure. By being able to positively impact that, you can start to benefit from fewer symptoms and a lowered risk of developing hypertension, and other cardiovascular conditions.
  • Mental Health
    Lastly, green constructions can benefit overall mental health. Green homes can help reduce stress and depression by making home conditions cleaner and more comfortable. By helping regulate temperature and removing air contaminants, the environment itself will be more conducive to positive mental stimulation.

The Way of the Future

It’s no secret that sustainable building practices are only going to become more popular, both by demand and necessity. As more people stop to examine the impact of unsustainable building practices, it’s only a matter of time before most — if not all — new constructions are considered green. If you’re interested in making your home a more eco-friendly location, consider investing in the sustainable materials and appliances mentioned above. You too can reap the benefits of green living, even in your previously constructed home.