Spring is in the air! Well, at least here in Los Angeles with our recent temps in the 70’s! (Sorry to those still stuck in winter).
With the newness and rebirth of spring comes a feeling of rejuvenation and freshness that we feel. The sprouting of flowers and fresh, warmer air can bring a motivation to spend more time outside, and to update and freshen up our homes as well.
If you’re in the mode to re-do this spring, consider making some eco-friendly changes and upgrades to your home this year. Not only can you get the facelift you have been thinking about all winter, but you can also potentially decrease waste and create a more energy efficient environment for you and your family.
Here are a few, easy ways to help make your home more green this spring.
Upgrade to Energy Efficient Lighting
One of the easiest ways to create a more efficient home is to replace the current bulbs you have in your house with more efficient ones. With the start of the phase out of incandescent bulbs in 2014, consumers have now been given a choice between using LED (light emitting-diodes) or CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) bulbs. What is the difference? CFLs are a mini version of a standard fluorescent bulb and appear much like the incandescent bulbs we are used to. They use about 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs and can fit into any standard socket with no adapter. A drawback, however, is that these bulbs contain mercury and require great care in the cleanup and disposal of them. LED bulbs last up to 5 times longer than CFLs using less wattage overall. They also can fit into a standard socket without an adapter, but come with a heftier price per bulb than the CFL. Whatever your budget is, either bulb offers a solution to decrease energy usage and increase lighting efficiency in your home.
Decrease Water Usage
Cutting down on water usage is something us Californians are no stranger to, and while we are now enjoying having more rain, there are many ways we can continue our water conservation efforts in our homes.
According to the EPA, an average American family of four uses up to 400 gallons of water a day, with the bathroom being the largest area of usage (toilets can use up to 27% alone- wow!). To become more water conscious in your bathroom you can install low-flow toilets which can save up to 20-60% on water usage and can save tremendously on utilities over time decreasing 1.28 gallons or less per flush. Other ways to conserve are to install aerators for your sinks and low-flow shower heads. These simple additions and adjustments to your water systems can make a huge difference in your water consumption and help you save money in the process (yay!). Check out this water usage calculator to see how much water you and your family are using and areas in which you can increase conservation.
Reface with Low-Voc and No-Voc Paint
Staring at those lemon yellow walls and thinking it’s time for a change? An easy and budget friendly way to give your home a makeover and make it friendlier to the environment and your health, is to repaint your walls using low-voc or no-voc paint. VOCs, volatile organic compounds, are unstable, carbon-containing compounds that when released into the air can create quite a toxic environment affecting the air quality in a home and creating potential health issues as VOCs have been linked to cancer and kidney and liver damage (yikes!). Aside from many thoughts, the low and non-voc paint options can be very budget friendly with prices ranging from $30-60 a gallon depending on type. You can find these options at many of your local paint stores such as Benjamin Moore and at home improvement stores such as Home Depot. Home Depot also has a feature on their website where you can calculate how many VOCs you will avoid by using low and zero VOC paint this year. Pretty cool!
Install a Programmable Thermostat
With the rainy, winter months almost behind us and spring on the horizon here in Los Angeles, now is a great time to prepare for those hot, summer days and create a more efficient system in your home. Heating and cooling systems use a lot of energy and account for nearly half of the total energy used in a home. Switching to a programmable thermostat creates an easier way to monitor heating and cooling in your home, can save up to 10% a year on utilities, and helps decrease usage and the release of environmentally damaging emissions. It’s a great solution for us Californians as our outdoor temperature changes throughout the day with cooler mornings and evenings and hotter days. No matter what your schedule and day looks like, a programmable thermostat makes it easier to regulate temperature and your monthly budget.
Install Energy Efficient Windows
Another way to decrease the over usage of your heating and cooling system is to install energy efficient windows in your home. Installing new, updated windows provides better insulation in your home, which decreases leakage of hot or cool air. When you have windows that protect from the outer elements better, your system does not have to work as hard, resulting in lower utility costs. Other benefits include protection against outside elements that can lead to mold, allergy and asthma symptoms, and ultraviolet rays that can damage household items. The purchase of more efficient windows can also allow for a tax credit for simply creating a more energy, efficient environment. Who doesn’t love that!
These are just a few of the many ways you can create a more eco-friendly environment in your home. Sustainable living is becoming more popular and we support the movement!
Written by: Jessica Paisant