50 Inexpensive Ways to Make Your Home Green

Contents

Kitchen Conscious
Green Up Your Garage
Trim Your Power Bill
Wring out your water bill
Renovate and decorate in style
Give your backyard a boost
Clean the green way
Paper cut: Save trees and time
Soak up the sun
Educate yourself

If you’re in college, you probably spend most of your cash on tuition, books, and housing. You dont exactly have a lot of money to fritter away, but you want to do your part to help the earth. Here are 50 tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint on a limited budget.


 

Kitchen-conscious: Eat healthy, save resources


  • Use biodegradable plates for your next shindig. These Bagasse plates are made from sugar-cane fiber but they’re sturdy enough to hold heaping portions of food.
  • Move your refrigerator. If the appliance is in direct sunlight or near the stove, the fridges compressor will eat up more energy. If you cant move your appliance, try using curtains to shield your fridge from sunlight.
  • Use the dishwasher. Running a full load is more efficient than hand-washing the same number of dishes, particularly with an Energy Star dishwasher.
  • Try bamboo cutting boards, available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Bamboo is a sustainable, versatile alternative to wood.
  • Cut excess packaging. Buy foods in larger containers, not individual serving sizes, and take just what you need.
  • Eat less meat. The resources needed to raise livestock, including feed, water, fossil fuel and land, dramatically surpass those required for raising vegetables and grains. According to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, producing animal protein demands eight times the amount of fossil-fuel energy that it takes to produce a comparable amount of plant protein.
  • Buy local. Shopping your local farmers markets helps the local economy, supports family farms and cuts down on greenhouse-gas pollution because food doesnt have to travel as far.
  • Drink water from refillable bottles. Instead of throwing away a plastic bottle every day, use a water filtration system and pour water into a portable mug or cup. Take it to class, and keep yourself hydrated all day long. Not to mention youll be saving money normally spent at the vending machine.

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Green up your garage


  • Clear out your extra fridge or freezer. An old, inefficient model could be costing you more than $200 a year on your power bill.
  • Save your takeout containers. The plastic dishes cant be recycled in most cities waste systems, but they’re perfect for organizing screws, nails and other junk you accumulate through college.

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Trim your power bill


  • Adjust your fridge temperature. Stick an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in your fridge, or between frozen goods in the freezer, overnight. Your fridge temp should be between 37 and 40 degrees F; your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees.
  • Try the dollar-bill test. Slip the bill between the rubber gasket on your freezer and fridge doors and the frame. Close the door and pull on the bill. If you dont feel resistance, its time to replace your gasket.
  • Change your air filter regularly. Check your filter every month, and change it at least every 3 months. A clogged filter will slow down air flow, wasting energy and risking early system failure.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. If you’re away from home during specific times throughout the week, programming your thermostat can save you about $180 every year.
  • Seal your heating and cooling ducts. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent and sometimes more.
  • Replace your incandescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs have a high sticker price, but theyll pay for themselves in about six months, leaving you with more money for other college must-haves like pizza.
  • Clean your dryers lint trap regularly.This simple task can reduce your familys energy use by 30 percent.
  • Put on a sweater in the winter. Try setting the thermostat at 70 degrees during the day and 62 at night during winter (and 78 or higher in the summer).

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Wring out your water bill



  • Optimize your water heater. If you don't have one installed already, put an insulative jacket around your hot water heater, and insulate the pipes around the water heater.
  • Cool down. Turn the temperature on your water heater down from the standard 140 degrees F to 120 degrees. It will save you money, prolong the life of your tank, and prevent scalding.
  • Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators. Youll save resources without sacrificing water pressure, and save a family of four as much as $285 annually.
  • Dont over-water your lawn. An inexpensive lawn moisture meter will tell you if you’re over-watering. Or, get an intelligent irrigation control system that fits your watering to the weather and your lawns needs.
  • Food coloring isnt just for Easter eggs. Pour some into your toilet tank. Then wait two hours and check to see if any color has seeped into the bowl. If so, its time to replace your tanks flapper assembly.

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Renovate and decorate in style


  • Want hardwood floors? Choose bamboo. Bamboo is more sustainable because it takes just four to six years to mature, compared to 50-100 years for average hardwoods. Just be sure to use sources with formaldehyde-free glues.
  • Use healthier paint. Conventional paints contain solvents, toxic metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause smog, ozone pollution and indoor air-quality problems. Instead, use zero- or low-VOC paint, made by most major paint manufacturers.
  • Use organic bedding. Organic linens are manufactured naturally, without the chemicals that hurt the environment and local water sources. Unlike other bedding, these linens are dyed using biodegradable pigments.
  • Skip the synthetic carpet. Buy natural fibers, such as carpet tiles from The Naturals from FLOR, or a luxury wool fiber from Earth Weave.
  • Strip and stain wood naturally. Youll cut down on harmful chemicals. Here are instructions.

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Give your backyard a boost


  • If your balcony is bare, try landscaping with native plants. They have adapted to the local environment and support indigenous animals. they’re also easier to maintain and require less watering.
  • Use eco-friendly pest control. Most pesticides are laden with chemicals that can be dangerous to kids, pets and your areas water supply. PlanetNatural has a line of earth-safe products such as beneficial nematodes and a vegetable insect spray.
  • Collect rain water and use it for your plants. Gathering and reusing Mother Natures water is as simple as placing a rain barrel in your yard.
  • Sweep, dont hose down, your driveway.The water you rinse into the gutter carries oil and other chemicals, a runoff that pollutes lakes, rivers and oceans.
  • Get a push mower for your lawn. Traditional gas mowers hurt air quality and add to global warming. Even a plug-in electric model is an improvement.
  • Turn off your leaf-blower. Gas-powered leaf-blowers produce high levels of carbon emissions. Use a broom, instead.
  • Leave lawn clippings on the yard. They make great mulch and help you save water, too.

  • Plant synthetic grass. It uses no water, lasts more than 10 years, and looks realistic.
  • Grow your own organic food. Gardening nurtures your health and the planets. You’ll also save a bundle on your grocery bill all you have to buy is the seeds or seedlings, and your plants will feed you for months.
  • Use non-toxic fertilizers and pest control. Youll decrease toxin runoff into waterways while keeping your plants healthier.
  • Start composting. Why not transform your humble kitchen scraps into a soil-enriching product that saves you the expense of fertilizer? Build your own compost bin, or try one of these models.
  • Green your grill. Electric and propane grills are more eco-friendly than charcoal. If you’re set on charcoal, try cleaner-burning varieties.
  • Plant a tree. Properly placed shade trees can lower your cooling costs by up to 25 percent.

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Clean the green way




  • Use chemical free, natural cleaners. You probably already have baking soda, salt and vinegar on hand and they’re healthy alternatives to chemical cleaners.
  • Make your own carpet deodorizer. Combine one cup of baking soda with 1/2-cup cornstarch. Next, add your favorite herbal scent or essential oil, sprinkle on your carpet, and vacuum up after several hours. Fresh-smelling carpets will keep move-out costs low by helping you get your deposit back.

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Paper cut: Save trees and time


  • Cut your junk mail. Eco Cycle and StopJunkMail.org have tips on who to call and what online forms to fill out. For a fee, GreenDimes or 41pounds.org can help you even further.
  • Go paperless in your home office. A document management system can reduce your printing needs. Calculate your return on investment with this tool.

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Soak up the sun


  • Let the sunshine in. Open the curtains to let in natural solar heat on cold days. Then close them when its dark youll save 10 percent on your heating bill.
  • Install shutters or awnings. In the summer, you can cut cooling costs by up to 33 percent by blocking out sunlight.
  • Use solar outdoor lighting. For efficiency, reliability and sustainability, its hard to beat solar light. Youll also save cash because you wont have to keep the outdoor lights on all night.

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Educate yourself


  • Get an expert opinion. An energy auditor uses specialized skills and tools to evaluate your homes needs and suggest ways to improve. Look for raters who are RESNET Accredited.
  • Join the Green Home Huddle to share tips with other environmentally conscious folks. Social networks are a powerful way to learn and connect.

Want to pursue a career in sustainable business? Rasmussen College offers an Entrepreneurship degree online and on campus or Marketing and Sales degrees online to position you for a career in green business.

External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

This article was written by Many Tindall. For similar articles, visit the Rasmussen College Blog.

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