How to Make Your Home More "Green"

Green LivingGoing "Green" is a top homeowner trend for 2014, and one that can be very exciting to implement.

Making your home "green" essentially means you're optimizing your home to better take care of the environment.  This most often includes making efficient use of the resources your home consumes (electricity, gas, water), and cutting down on waste (kitchen garbage, wasted paper, unused resources).

Here are 10 great ways you can make your home a little greener, some courtesy of Redfin.

1. Cut down your "paper fingerprint" by online enrolling and getting off of junk mail lists

Most families receive a sizable amount of unneeded mail on a daily basis.  You can help reduce this amount of unused paper by transitioning as much as you can to digital mail.

Receiving online statements from utilities providers and your bank is a great way to start this process.  You can also opt out of unsolicited commercial mail (i.e. credit card offers, insurance offers) via the FTC webite.

2. Take off those shoes!

Leaving your shoes at the door is not only a good way to keep your home cleaner, it will also help reduce the amount of toxins and pollutants that come into your home.  Shoes pick up a substantial amount of unwanted substances that are not good to breathe in.

This can be a near-free investment process, by making your own by-the-door shoe rack, or buying a simple one starting around $10.  If this idea really interests you, you could invest in developing a mud room for dirty coats and clothes as well, ranging anywhere from $150-$3,000 depending on your needs.

3. Create a compost station

Most major cities do now have an option for processing recyclable material.  But what about your food scraps?  The best way to compost your organic material, which is a great source of nutrients for your garden.

It doesn't have to be a complicated venture - in fact, simple is best.  The more receptacles you have the better, as laziness often compounds waste (i.e. being too far away from the kitchen to dispose of your food waste).

Many programs offer free compost bins, and some even offer classes on how to start.

4. Seal gaps in doors and windows

If you're in an older, draftier home, there are likely some gaps around your doors and windows that are letting out heat.  While it may not seem like a big deal, in fact these little air leaks can really add up on your energy bill.  Hot air in the winter and cold air in the summer escape from here, making your system have to work harder to maintain the temperature in your environment.

Purchasing weather stripping for your doors and windows should help improve this.  Foam rolls are common and cheaper, but there is also a plastic equivalent which is a little more costly but also more durable.

5. Fix those leaks

Leaking toilets and faucets are exceptionally costly and wasteful.  According to 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.

After spotting a leak, you'll need to call a plumber to assess the situation as sometimes a stubborn leak is indicative of a larger issue.

6. Water your plants with rainwater

Rain is a free (appreciated) resource for your plants.  To ease the environment and reduce the amount of perfectly good water that goes to waste in our stormwater collection systems, purchase a rainwater collection barrel.  Installation usually requires a professional to clip and redirect your gutters into your barrel.

7. Landscape your yard with native plants

Your garden can be greener too, believe it or not! Gardening with plants that are native to the area will require less maintenance - and more specifically, water.  Chicagoans should consider plants that will be able to survive a severe Chicago summer AND winter (a list is provided here).

8. Turn off power strips when you're not using them

Most of us try our best to turn off a light when we leave a room, or switch off the TV when no one is watching it.  But how about full power strips?  Even when electronics are not being used, a "standby" mode still uses energy.  For full green home efficiency, switch off power strips and do full shut-offs of your devices.

9. Install low flow showerheads and toilets

Low flow shower heads get a bad rap for not providing enough water, and low flow toilets get a bad rap for leaving... ahem, a little too much behind.  In actuality, these devices have progressed quite far in their development making these issues mostly a thing of the past - and did we mention they conserve a sizable amount of water?  

There are plenty of low flow showerheads that still provide the feel of a powerful shower, while in actuality using less water.  There are also highly efficient toilets that just simply don't need a ton of water to work perfectly well.  To help pick out some options that are good for you, contact your local plumber.

10. Switch to LED or CFL lights

A good amount of a home's energy bill goes towards lighting your home.  So why not switch to energy efficient bulbs to cut down on your usage?

LED (light emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs use up to 75% less energy than standard bulbs AND last 10-25 times longer than an average incandescent bulb.  This means: a) you're saving money b) you're saving energy c) less waste is going to a landfill.  What's not to like?

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send us an email or give us a call and we'll be happy to help!

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