Five Ways to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly
The classic Earth Day advice on what individuals can do to help save the planet comes down to three words: reduce, reuse, recycle. When it comes to your home, there are a number of ways to put this into practice â and some can really move the needle, both for the planet and your wallet. And while not all of them are inexpensive changes, for some of the bigger options like installing solar panels, local and federal governments can offer tax breaks and other financial incentives. The Ministry of Energy see you about the possible benefits.
Here are five green changes you can make to your home:
1. Consider a cool roof
Making your roof white can lower your energy bill and lower your emissions, especially in relatively urban areas. According to Yale Environment 360, if every rooftop in every major city in the world were white, daytime temperatures could be lowered by an average of 0.6 degrees Celsius. The impact would be even greater in warmer climates. In the United States, white roofs could lower temperatures in Washington, DC, by 1.8 degrees Celsius and up to 1.5 degrees Celsius in Los Angeles.
Earth is on track to be 2.5 degrees Celsius to 4.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit to 8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer by 2100, according to Nasa. However, world leaders aim to limit that increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius â which scientists believe could avert the worst impacts of climate change.
How do cool roofs help? A white coating reflects sunlight â up to 60-90% of sunlight, depending on the Ministry of Energy. By comparison, asphalt reflects 4% of light and grasslands reflect 25%, Yale Environment 360 said.
If everyone on the planet installed a white roof, it would slow global warming by 11 years, reports Yale Environment 360. While that number isn’t significant in the grand scheme of our planet’s existence, cool roofs could reduce the number of people who die each year from heat-related problems, especially in urban areas.
Another way to create a cool roof is to add plants. This option is “ideal for urban buildings with low-pitched or shallow pit roofs, and can include anything from basic ground cover (extensive green roof) to a garden or even small trees ( intensive green roof),â says the Department of Energy. . The water evaporating from the plants on the roof keeps the house cool and the layer of soil helps insulate the house. However, a green roof is more expensive, harder to maintain, and much heavier than other cool roof options.
If you’re ready to replace your roof, consider an attractive option. If your roof is still in good condition, consider applying a white roof coating designed to reflect the sun’s rays – New York City even has a program to help building owners cover eligible roofs at no or low cost. EnergyStar.gov has a list of certified options.
2. Replace your grass-dominant lawn
Your garden, whether big or small, can have an impact on climate change. Although manicured lawns have long been the norm for most American homes, experts say a lawn that looks more like its natural environment could be good for the health of the environment and your wallet.
The problem: Treatments to maintain a âperfectâ lawn harm the environment. Some fertilizers and pesticides can damage ecosystems and sicken the animals that live there, and when these chemicals move through runoff, they can reach other animals and other ecosystems. Scientists at Princeton University say mowing your lawn or reworking its irrigation system can also lessen some of the positive impacts your lawn has on the environment. And gas-powered lawnmowers and leaf blowers, taken together, can emit significant amounts of CO2.
The solution? In short, Princeton researchers and other experts in the field recommend keeping your lawn natural. This includes reintroducing more native plants to the landscape, adding grass alternatives such as mulch and gravel, and âleaving the lawn on its ownâ â which means less manicuring.
Although most cities in the United States have certain restrictions on growing your lawn, they may be more flexible than you think. Check local government resource pages to find out what these regulations are. Meanwhile, other cities are pushing to change local laws. For example, Montgomery County, Maryland, changed its rules to allow for more natural lawn growth, according to the NRDC non-profit organization.
Several local governments in the United States even offer residents incentives to give up an all-grass lawn. In Colorado, the government has offered discounts to residents of certain towns who have changed their landscaping, according to The Denver post. The reason? The state was experiencing a severe drought and too much water was wasted on lawn care. Several other western states, including California, Nevada and Utah, offer similar incentives.
3. Buy used furniture
Nearly 12.5 million tons of furniture and furnishings are thrown away each year in the United States, up from about 2.5 million tons in 1960, according to Data of the Environmental Protection Agency. Although about a fifth of this waste is burned with energy recovery, the majority of the rest is sent to landfills. The EPA has found similar patterns for other household items, including rugs and carpets.
The solution? Instead of throwing away your old living room rug or headboard, take it to a local thrift store. And if you’re on the hunt for new furniture, check out second-hand options before buying new. Thrifting is already popular among millennials, although it’s often practiced for clothing and accessories because it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Not only will you limit the amount of waste, but you will also reduce the expenses, including water, electricity and chemicals, that come with making new products.
4. Install solar panels
Every home on the planet emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which impact the cleanliness of our water and air, and contribute to climate change.
How can you reduce your impact? Installing solar panels on your home is an option, and a good one. According to the Department of Energy â which has a comprehensive guide on how to switch to solar power on its website â solar panels can lower your electric bills, reduce emissions and even add to resale value. of your house.
Solar panels can be installed and be functional in most homes. How much power they will produce, how much they will cost, and how much money they will save will vary depending on location. However, there are many government incentives for solar panels, including state and local programs. To find out more, see the Ministry of Energy website.
5. Use curtains
Similar to painting your roof white, installing and using curtains, shades, shades, screens, awnings, draperies and shutters in your home is a simple and effective way to increase your home’s energy efficiency. .
In the summer, keeping the curtains down can keep sunlight â and heat from outside â out. Therefore, you will need and use less air conditioning. And they’re also a good way to keep warm air contained in the winter: curtains, according to the Department of Energy, can reduce heat loss in a home by 40 percent or more.
In total, about 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows, according to the Department of Energy. Efficient use of curtains can significantly reduce this waste, as well as your bills â although the Department of Energy says this figure will depend on the type of curtains you use, the season and the climate.
The ministry added that the most effective type of window covering is insulated cellular shades, which typically fold like an accordion at the top of the window. The Department of Energy has also More information on the different types of curtains.
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