It takes more than just a house to make a home for yourself and your family. A home is where we make our memories. A home is where family members unite, and where traditions are shared. A home is a place of solitude, of love, and of acceptance.
However, a home is also a place of consumption – sorry to ruin the cheery sentiments.
While a home may have once been a hut, today it can mean a mansion. Regardless of size, we still live like kings when comparing it to the old days. Storing food, keeping cool, being entertained, having fresh water, and wearing clean clothes are some of the day to day for people of the 20th century.
But there is a downside. Having appliances running all day guzzles electricity, wastes precious resources, and in most cases is unnecessary. So, what’s the solution? Do we have to go back to living in the dark?
Luckily, no, we don’t. In fact, we can make some simple changes in our home to cut back drastically on the use of resources. It should warned, however, that simple products aren’t always a quick fix; they’re more like a band-aid on a stab wound. What we need are changes in lifestyle and changes in mentality. Then again, products are a good place to start.
Number 1 – The Refrigerator
Ahh, the wonderful refrigerator. I remember when I was younger I used to wish I could crawl inside the crisp oasis and gorge on food until my mom would come pull me out. Those days are over, needless to say, and I’ve come to realize how important the fridge really is. Every home has one (excuse the generalization), and without refrigeration, many foods would be impossible to store, let alone transport.
While there are a number of style of fridges, if you’re planning on replacing yours, the fridge with the freezer on the top or bottom is the most energy efficient. Also, many of us have probably heard of Energy Star. The fridges that come with this sticker use about 20 percent less electricity than standard refrigerators (which are still much better than fridges before 1993).
For those of us who like to go above and beyond, check out Sun Frost and SunDanzer. These companies provide top quality, eco friendly refrigerators, as well as customization to match your kitchen. While they are priced higher than other fridges, they operate at around 50 percent less electricity use than standard.
Number 2 – Air Conditioning
Also another gem of modern science, air conditioning is found in a majority of peoples’ homes. Here, like with refrigerator, keeping cool and fresh is the mission.
While upgrading to energy efficient AC can be costly in the beginning, it’s easily paid back over time through lower electric bills. Want a fun statistic? “If every room air conditioner sold had earned the Energy Star, it would prevent 900 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually, equivalent to the emissions from 80,000 cars.”
The key thing to remember about air conditioning is that you should always have some common cooling strategies in mind. For example, seal leaks around the house, try using the AC during the night to prep for the day, and avoid using AC during peak hours of heat.
Number 3 – The Television
Like the past two, television is a staple of the modern home. Whether that is a good thing or not is up to you, but one thing is for sure: it can gobble up electricity the more it is used. In fact, some large, direct-view TVs can use as much energy as a refrigerator a year.
On the other hand, an Energy Star certified TV uses about 40 percent less energy than standard units. Best of all, you don’t have to compromise on quality. Energy Star products include HDTVs, plasmas, and flat screens.
Number 4 – Water
Some people buy thousands of water bottles; others buy hundreds of gallon jugs. Some people have leaky bathtubs, shower heads, or faucets; others watch as their sprinkler heads shoot water into the air like Old Faithful on a good day.
However, water is a precious resource, and it must be treated like one. First, install a water filter on your faucet. Buying jugs and bottles of the sort wastes a ton of plastic. The top-rated water filter by Greenerchoices.com is the Pur Horizontal FM9400 – it will cost you around $40, but will pay you back within a month.
Next, for you home owners out there, invest in an Energy Star water heater. Some of the models decrease energy consumption by 30 percent, and a tankless only generates water when you need it. For anyone who isn’t looking to buy a new water heater, try some of these techniques.
Finally, fix your leaks! This is straightforward enough. By fixing your lawn equipment and leaky faucets, you’re saving bundles on water costs and contributing greatly to water conservation.
Number 5 – Washer and Dryer
There was only one thing I liked better than imagining I could crawl in the fridge, and that was having warm clothes thrown on top of me. A washer and dryer are essential items to many people. While ditching them both and going back to an old fashioned washboard and clothesline would be best, that isn’t a practical solution for many people.
Instead, choose Energy Star washers. By doing so, you can save over 30 percent electricity use, and 50 percent in water usage. Also, Energy Star washers actually have more room for clothes, meaning fewer loads. Another method is washing in cold water.
For the dryer, Energy Star doesn’t rate them – that should tell you about their energy usage. The best way to dry your clothes is to pre-dry them on a rack, then flash dry them for 10-15 minutes. This saves energy and can take a bite out of your energy bill.
Interested in Energy Star or Energy Star rated products? Visit the website, provided by the EPA and the Department of Energy.