In these days of greenhouse gasses and global warming, more and more people are trying to be environmentally conscious in the home. What we consume, the power we use and how we dispose of our rubbish all have a significant effects on the world around us. If the global warming predictions are correct, the environmental decisions we make may very well be responsible for leaving our children and their descendants a liveable planet. Or not.

Learning how to be green at home is one of the easiest ways to make a meaningful contribution to the health of the environment. Check out our green living tips below.

Heating

To reduce your energy use consider setting your thermostat a couple of degrees lower in winter and a little higher in summer. Delaying the point at which your heater or air conditioner kicks in cuts down on your energy use. Did you know that in the colder months each degree below 20˚C that you reduce your heating will save you around 4% of your total heating energy consumption?

Appliances

Choose Energy Star appliances wherever possible. These appliances use between 10%-50% less energy than non-rated models.

Only run appliances when you really need them. Does that beer fridge in the garage have to be on during the winter months?

Turn appliances off at the wall when not in use. Keeping them in stand-by mode might be convenient, but it uses power unnecessarily.

Wash your clothes in cold water. Running your washing machine on a cold cycle can reduce the cost of a machine-wash by as much as 80%.

It might be difficult during the New Zealand winter, but using a drying rack or hanging your clothes outside on the line to dry is far more energy friendly than using an electricity-guzzling clothes-dryer.

Using Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) rather than the old incandescent variety will save money and power (a CFL uses more then 60% less energy than an incandescent bulb).

Water

There are a number of easy ways to reduce your water usage. Simple things like shorter showers or shallower baths will help, as will installing tap aerators and low-flow showerheads. Toilets with reduced-flush tanks can halve the amount of water you flush down the drain.

Sweeping the driveway rather than hosing it avoids needlessly wasting water. Do you leave the tap on while you’re brushing your teeth? If you do, you’re wasting water and money.

Bottled Water

With the sky-high consumption of bottled water world wide the discarded bottles are rapidly becoming an environmental catastrophe in their own right. Plastic is made from petroleum, so making those bottles uses up a finite resource and belches greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. And of course there’s the problem of what to do with all those billions of plastic bottles.

Install a filter instead of buying bottled water. Carry your filtered water in a reusable bottle.

Food

Transporting food requires the burning of fossil fuels and that means more greenhouse gases. Reduce the carbon miles in your shopping basket by buying locally produced food wherever possible.

Switching to organic foods means you’re voting with your food dollars against the poisonous pesticides and chemical fertilisers used in conventional farming.

Re-use

Think about ways in which you can avoid unnecessarily buying new products. Everything you buy takes resources from the earth and causes some form of pollution during its manufacture.

Borrowing items from neighbours, sharing your own items and using a product for longer, rather than throwing it away and buying a newer version simply for fashion’s sake, are all ways to place less strain on the planet.

Recycle

Use those bottle bins, recycle your paper, plastics and cans. Got an electronic appliance like a cell phone or computer you’re about to throw away? Dispose of it responsibly. Call your local council for the location of disposal depots experienced in dealing with the harmful chemicals contained in electronic equipment.

Be Aware

The tips above on how to be green at home are just a small sample of the things you can do to reduce the damage our planet suffers. There are many others, the secret to finding them is to be aware. Each time you buy something, each time you use something, each time you throw something away, ask yourself what the impact of your actions will be on the environment around you.

Learn more about being green at home with this video.

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