How to Decrease Your Home's Environmental Impact

By Preston Guyton

Do you want to do your part in helping the environment and making your home more energy-efficient? It is has become easier and more affordable than ever before to take steps to reduce energy consumption and the size of your carbon footprint. Explore the following suggestions for free and affordable ways to supporting the environment while meeting your home’s energy demands and more.

Lower Energy Usage

Light a homes for less by using energy-efficient lighting such as LED lightbulbs. LED lightbulbs retain most of their energy unlike traditional incandescent bulbs, making lighting a home more efficient. The bulbs last for a long time and draws less energy to meet lighting needs in a home.

Turn off lights when an area is not in use and use dimmers and lighting controls to reduce electricity usage. Other ways to lower energy usage include:

  • Running dishwashers and laundry machines during off-peak times

  • Waiting to run a full load

  • Unplugging appliances when not in use

  • Repairing and regularly maintaining appliances

These are all relatively simple and affordable ways to efficiently meet the energy demands in a home. Appliances with broken components may still run but will require more energy to do so. Ensure that lighting fixtures, dishwashers, washers and dryers and HVAC systems are maintained to reduce energy consumption in a home. In addition, sealing a home and addressing air leaks can improve energy-efficiency and humidity control while reducing the likelihood of allergens getting into a house.

Look Into ENERGY STAR Appliances

There will come a time when it is necessary to buy a new major appliance. Look for the ENERGY STAR label when selecting a refrigerator, dishwasher, new furnace or air conditioner unit. Such appliances are more energy-efficient than more traditional models and have saved both commercial and residential property owners nearly $300 billion.

Federal and state tax credits can make it more affordable to integrate more energy-efficient technologies in a home. As an added bonus, new appliances can really boost the value of your home should you decide to sell in a few years compared to older, less efficient ones. Don't forget that items like windows can be rated by ENERGY STAR as an efficient option for your home as well.

Reduce Water Use

Get the household into the habit of using less water. Avoid taking long showers. Turn off the water when brushing teeth. Garden with native plants requiring less maintenance to decrease water consumption and improve the local ecology.

Small purchases to reduce water consumption include buying and installing water-efficient washing machines, shower heads, faucet heads, toilets and dishwashers.

Recycle and Reuse

In the United States, an estimated 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions may be contributed to the “provision of goods.” Homeowners who consciously choose to purchase fewer goods and reuse or recycle goods help decrease the resources needed to create, transport and eventually dispose of items. Repairing and buying second hand helps keep goods out of landfills and donating clothing, furniture and other goods can help other households reduce their environmental impact. There are many reasons for reducing the consumption of goods; not only is it better for the environment but it allows homeowners to use their money on other purposes, or save or invest it. There are a number of community groups and social media groups that support its members in recycling, repurposing and sharing various goods.

Switch to Clean Energy

Homeowners may want to learn more about solar energy to meet their home’s energy demands. Solar energy cuts utility bills and today’s solar panels can be purchased or leased. Federal tax credits can make the switch more affordable. Solar, geothermal and wind energy can be an applicable clean energy alternative for residents. Homeowners interested in using clean energy to meet the energy demands of their home can look for local green power supply options on the Green Power Locator.

Choose a Healthier Lifestyle

Individuals and households that decide to decrease their meat consumption, walk or bike to go to work or local attractions, and enjoy more time outdoors can decrease their environmental impact and improve their physical and mental health. Households can work together to make changes both large and small to go green and reduce their carbon footprint. Rely less on natural resources, reduce energy consumption and save money when making more eco-friendly choices today. 

The opinions expressed in this blog entry are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Climate Stewards of Greater Annapolis. Preston Guyton is a native of the Grand Strand and Broker in Charge/Managing Partner of CRG Companies.