Small decisions can make a big difference over time on your carbon footprint, and some of the “greenest” decisions you can make begin at home.
Fortunately, there are several easy, affordable ways to lead a greener lifestyle at home.
1. Get some fresh air. From the cleaning supplies you use to the off-gassing of new furniture, carpet and paint, your home carries airborne toxins that can cause health problems if they become trapped and increase in density.
Counteract this by bringing fresh air inside.
Your green action: Intermittently open windows on opposite sides of a house to encourage a cross-breeze.
In a two-story house, open a window downstairs and a window upstairs. As warm air rises, it will exit the topfl oor window.
In places like kitchens and bathrooms, where moisture can accumulate and trigger mold growth if left unaddressed, spot ventilation can be achieved with exhaust fans.
It’s also important in rooms with gas appliances to offset carbon monoxide.
Exhaust fans can be noisy. Look for those rated 2.0 sones or less.
2. You hold the power. Being money smart may mean rethinking the way you use gas and electricity in the home.
Your green action: Take care of your appliances for maximum energy efficiency.
Plugged-in appliances consume energy even when they are turned off or in standby mode.
This phantom load, particularly from power adapters, computers and TVs, can account for as much as 10 percent of your home’s energy consumption.
Place power strips throughout the house and shut down power at the outlet versus on the appliance.
Also, make sure your appliances are operating at maximum efficiency.
Clean your dryer’s lint trap after every load and scrub it with an old toothbrush once a month to get rid of the film left behind by dryer sheets.
Clean your refrigerator coils, which can accumulate dust, at least once a year.
Pull the refrigerator away from the wall and unplug it. Then remove the cover panel on the back to expose the coils and use a long-handled brush or handheld vacuum to remove dust.
3. Be water wise. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a family of four in the United States uses about 400 gallons of water daily– 70 percent of which is for indoor use.
Your green action: Install low-flow plumbing fixtures.
High-efficiency clothes washers and dishwashers are ideal but can be expensive. An alternative is installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.
A low-flow showerhead can save a household up to 2,300 gallons of water a year.
A faucet aerator attaches to the end of a faucet and slows the water flow, while adding air to maintain water pressure.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends aerators with a maximum flow rate of one gallon per minute.