Reducing your water usage is easy, and it doesn’t mean you have to brush your teeth with a pinecone or weep with remorse every time you flush the can. As is the case with all resource usage, responsibility starts with understanding how much of something is actually needed to get the job done. Until you take that step, you’re basing your behavior on assumptions and habits you learned as a kid.1
Your garage, laundry room, basement, and other nonglam support areas: These are the silent killers of energy-efficiency in your home.1 Because these spaces are largely “unseen” (and because they’re where spiders look up at us with their tiny, frightening eyes), we tend to look the other way and ignore their negative impact on our efforts. Spiders or no spiders, we can no longer afford this attitude.
The space outside your walls should be as thoughtfully considered as the space within. Aside from contributing to pleasant, functioning outdoor space, well-placed landscaping can protect your house from solar gain in the summer while letting it inside during the winter.
By conceptually dividing your home into zones, you can analyze each of its functions in turn. From there, you can develop strategies to understand how you actually live inside these zones—–and what it takes to improve their performance. That said, there are a number of fundamental whole-house strategies that apply to every zone in the home. These are the biggies: Implement them and you’ll reduce your energy usage (and your energy bills) dramatically.
Fine-tuning your cooking and dining areas pays off in more ways than just saving resources. As in other functional zones, their success starts with awareness: Where exactly does your food come from? Where exactly does your trash go after you haul it to the curb? Playing an active role in your family’s food cycle can be eye-opening, and it often helps spark an interest in improving other house zones.
Sleep on this: You probably spend more time in your bedroom than any other home zone, so it’s important to get it right.1 Reducing your resource consumption here requires a close look at how you use the space—–night and day.2 Your goal is to balance energy efficiency with flexibility of experience.