9 Effective Ways to Bring Sustainable Design Into the Home
Now more than ever, having a sustainable home that conserves resources and energy usage is paramount. Sustainable design and architecture has seen tremendous growth over the last decade—as has the number of professionals who specialize in designing and building green homes. While major sustainable features pertain to the initial design, planning, and building stages, there are still plenty of changes to make in your home for a greener lifestyle. Have you covered all your bases?
1. Recycle Responsibly
This may seem like a no-brainer, but a recent Pew Research Center study reveals that only 28 percent of Americans live in areas that promote recycling, with education and access varying from community to community. Metals, paper and cardboard, glass, plastics, batteries and bulbs, and electronics all have a place in the recycling bin. Read up on what, and how, to recycle, and encourage your family members to follow suit.
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2. Compost Organic Materials
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps and yard waste make up 20 percent of what we throw away. Composting organic materials keeps them out of the landfill, which cuts down on greenhouse gases, and enriches the soil. To compost at home, make a pile in your backyard, or introduce an indoor bin for throwaways like apple peels and eggshells.
3. Choose Eco-Friendly Furniture
Whenever you can, choose environmentally friendly, VOC-free products to outfit your home, whether it be furniture or fit-outs. Look for companies committed to sustainably sourced materials and ethical production practices.
4. Harvest Rainwater
You don’t need to have a complicated harvesting tank built if you want to conserve water. A simpler way is to place a rain barrel—found at your local home and garden supply store—under the downspout on your roof to collect rainwater for gardening. Invest in a good water filtration or treatment system, and you can even use your rainwater for bathing, laundry, cooking, and drinking.
5. Grow Your Own Vegetables
Cultivating a garden not only helps you and your family live a greener lifestyle, but also saves on grocery bills, too. Start a fruit and vegetable patch in your backyard or roof terrace; and if you live in an apartment with limited outdoor space, try growing herbs and even vegetables inside.
6. Insulate Your Walls
One of the most effective ways to conserve resources is to keep your home warm without overly relying on heating mechanisms. A smart way to prevent heat loss is to incorporate eco-friendly insulation materials made with natural fibers such as cork, wood fiber, or sheep’s wool. Though this change may be a little more inconvenient and costly that the others, it will certainly help you save on heating bills in the long run.
7. Install Efficient Faucets and Showers
Conserve water and energy by swapping your regular kitchen and bathroom taps for more efficient faucets. Two smart options include the IKEA ALESKÄR Kitchen Faucet, which includes a hand spray for easy fruit and vegetable rinsing, or the Nebia shower system, which produces a larger number of smaller water droplets and uses up to 70 percent less water than a standard shower head.
8. Upgrade Your Home Appliances
Trade in your clunky old washing machines, dishwashers, or refrigerators for newer, energy-saving models such as LG’s smart and energy-efficient Signature Refrigerator, which has a transparent front that allows you to see what’s inside, so you won’t need to open your fridge door so often. Energy Star-certified appliances are a great choice for functionality and eco-friendliness.
9. Swap Out Inefficient Bulbs
Traditional incandescent bulbs give off 90 percent of their energy as heat, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Trading these for newer options will not only reduce your electricity bill, but also make your home feel cooler and more comfortable. Energy-efficient bulbs include halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light emitting diodes (LEDs). To further cut down on electricity output, choose lamps with timers or dimmer functions.