The need to go greener in your home has never been more pressing. But many homeowners struggle to understand how they can create the change they wish to see. The tips below should inspire you to begin your own journey towards a more sustainable way of life:
1. Go Greener in Your Home with Green Energy
Even it is not possible to install your own means of renewable power generation, you may still be able to afford a small additional cost to switch to a renewable energy supplier for your mains electricity.
• Install solar panels to make the most of the energy provided by the sun.
• Think about passive solar design – creating more windows on the south side of your home (in the northern hemisphere) and making sure there is plenty of thermal mass (stone, brick, ceramics etc.) to absorb the sun's heat are other ways to make the most of the energy from the sun.
• Install a wind turbine.
• Take advantage of geothermal heat.
• Utilize the power of running water if there is a stream or other watercourse nearby.
Or if you cannot have a full solar installation right now, you may still be able to utilize solar power for some applications in and around your home. For example, you could:
• Run outside solar lighting.
• Install a solar powered security system (security lighting, alarms and other features can all be run from dedicated solar panels).
• Use solar power to run a water feature in your garden, or a pump for an aquaponics or irrigation system.
Purchase another solar powered appliance such as a fan, radio or portable lantern.
• Create or purchase a solar oven to cook food without reliance on the grid.
• Create or buy a solar food dehydrator to help you store food more effectively.
2. Reduce your Energy Use
Whether or not you have a full renewable power installation right now, part of the drive to go greener in your home should be reducing your overall energy use. Some ways in which you can reduce your energy use in your home include:
• Purchasing the most efficient appliances possible.
• Replacing your lightbulbs with low energy LED alternatives.
• Improving the insulation in your home to reduce heating and cooling costs.
• Switching to sustainable heating or cooling solutions. (For example, using a solid fuel stove run on wood or eco briquettes, or a natural ventilation system.)
• Boiling water in a closed kettle rather than in an open pan and placing the lids on pans while cooking.
• Getting into the habit of switching off lights and electrical items when they are not in use.
3. Rainwater Harvesting & Water Conservation
Energy is not the only area to focus on when you are working out how to go greener in your home. Another thing to consider is the water that you use.
Rainwater harvesting is one way to become more water wise and to conserve fresh water. You can easily and cheaply place a barrel or water butt on the down spout of your home to collect the rainwater that falls on your roof. This rainwater can be channeled into an irrigation system for your garden, or collected to water plants. That way you can easily create a rain garden. The rainwater can even be passed through a filtration system and used within your home.
In addition to collecting rainwater, you can also go greener by directing grey water from your sink and bathroom to a food production area or to flush toilets. Grey water can also be passed to a reed bed filtration system.
Waste water from the toilets can be managed more sustainably as well. You could consider going water-free in the toilet department and opting instead for a composting toilet.
4. Food Production and Conservation
Growing your own food is a wonderful way to go greener in your home. Even if you do not have a garden you can still grow a range of plants on your windowsills.
Utilizing vertical gardening techniques, you may be surprised by how much you can grow even in the smallest of spaces. Organic growing is a great way to reduce your reliance on damaging agricultural systems, and move towards a greener and more sustainable way of life.
To grow food, organically, if you have a garden, be sure to:
• Create a balance in the ecosystem by attracting beneficial wildlife.
• Complete natural cycles by returning surplus to the system through mulching and composting.
• Take care of the soil through 'no dig' gardening, crop rotation and other sustainable practices.Whether you are growing food outside or inside your home, be sure to:
• Choose heritage seeds to collect and improve the resilience of your plant stock.
• Plant“polyculture” rather than planting only one type of plant in each bed or container.
• Consider ways to reuse household waste in your gardening efforts.
5. Reducing, Reusing and Recycling
Growing your own food is one great way to reduce the amount that you have to buy. You can further reduce your food needs and reliance on damaging factory farming and mono-crop agriculture by:
• Buying local, organic produce wherever possible. (Remember, try to buy a smaller quantity of a higher quality produce rather than bulk buying rubbish with little nutritional value.)
• Consider reducing meat consumption or even going vegetarian or vegan.
• Buying fresh, unprocessed ingredients and cooking from scratch.
• Reducing food waste through preservation techniques such as pickling, canning and making jellies, jams and chutneys.
• Composting food scraps will also help you to grow more of your own food at home, and stop this waste from ending up in landfill.
Energy, water and food are not the only things that you can work to reduce your consumption to go greener in your home. Think carefully before you buy anything new. Select only those things you really need.
Consider reusing old items or buying pre-loved items before you go out and purchase something new. Learning traditional skills such as gardening, cooking, sewing, woodworking and other DIY skills can help you create your own home-made, natural solutions for a range of needs.
Either at home, or using local refuse collection services, try to recycle as much as possible to go greener in your home.
Many of the changes that you can make to go greener in your home are small, but each small step you take will bring you closer to a more eco-friendly, sustainable and ethical way of life.
Elena Smith is a gardener, blogger, designer and DIY enthusiast in New Mexico who channels a love of simple and green living into her work. When she is not blogging, you can find her attending to the flowers and plants in the garden. Connect with Elena at ElenaSmith.net and on Twitter, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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