Many homeowners are interested in improving their property from year to year. While some are focused on making their property look more stylish or expanding their existing space for functional purposes, others are ready to go green with environmentally friendly improvements. If you are planning your home improvement projects for the upcoming year and have a green focus in mind, you may consider some of these ideas.
Many cities also offer excellent tax incentives and rebates for some of these green ideas, so make sure to check with your local water department or city, county, and state websites. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power rebates and programs can be found here. The Los Angeles Country green website is here. Also visit Energy Upgrade California and Cool California for additional programs and information. Research the rebates and incentives associated with some of these ideas today, and consider how each of these ideas can be incorporated into your home improvement plans in the upcoming year!
Glass, paper, aluminum, copper, steel, cardboard, and plastic are all recyclable. Most cities supply dedicated recycling trash bins with their trash services.
80% of what Americans throw away can be recycled. Despite this fact, America’s recycling rate is only 28%. Look before you throw away. Did you know that you can recycle plastic sandwich bags and toilet paper rolls? Feel awkward throwing away a DVD or CD? You can donate these items to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or you can trade them for a new DVD/CD or cash.
Compost Food Waste
Green waste from your yard and garden accounts for approximately 25% of the material being hauled from your home each week (source LA City Sanitation). By composting, you can improve your soil for a more productive vegetable or flower garden, and help your community at the same time. You can also compost newspapers (not shiny or glossy papers) and brown paper bags. No meat, it attracts rodents!
Use Reusable Grocery Bags!
Do you forget your reusable bags at home when you go grocery shopping? Or do you forget to hand them to the cashier at the grocery store? The trick is to identify your problem and find a way in which you won’t forget. If your problem is remembering to hand them to the cashier, slip them on your wrists while you shop or purchase a fold up bag that can fit in your purse so you see it when you go to grab your wallet. Do you need a bag? LA Stormwater is giving away free tote bags to LA residents who pledge to conserve water. Visit their website and get yours today!
Use Rechargeable Batteries
Also recycle all old batteries and cell-phones. Most Home Depot, Radio Shack, and Best Buy locations have drop off centers, or visit the website call2recycle.org to find other locations.
Use Fluorescent Bulbs
A 26-watt fluorescent bulb is equal to a 100-watt incandescent bulb. Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, so please dispose of properly (visit lamprecycle.org).
Use “Green” Cleaning Products
Try making your own eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner! White vinegar mixed with water makes a great glass cleaner, and lemon juice kills mold. More all-natural DIY cleaning solutions found here.
Refrigerator and Freezer Check-Up
Reduce your energy use by checking the temperature of your fridge and freezer. Your fridge should be between 37-40 degrees, and freezer should be between 0-5 degrees.
Wash Clothes in Cold Water and Line Dry
You won’t believe how much you will save on your electric bill! Also, the UV sunlight makes the clothes smell great and kills bacteria.
Turn Off Lights and Air-Conditioners When Leaving a Room
That one is pretty self-explanatory.
Opt Out of Junk Mail
According to the LA County Department of Public Works, the average citizen disposes of over 2000 pounds of trash per year. Americans spend eight months during their lifetime opening junk mail. 100 million trees are leveled each year to provide paper for junk mail. 4.3 million tons out of 5.6 million tons of mailings generated each year are thrown in the trash and 340,000 garbage trucks are needed to haul away all the junk mail that is not recycled. Opting out of junk mail subscriptions saves paper, reduces trash and conserves landfill space. Junk mail is generated from mailing lists by companies that collect your information whenever you enter a contest, make a donation, buy something, order a product, or send in a subscription or warranty card. These mailing lists may in turn be sold or traded with other companies. You can take your name and address off some of the major national mailing lists by registering at this LA County website.
Pay your bills online.
Buy Locally Grown Food
You will save money, support local growers, and protect the environment by cutting out shipping and the associated transportation emissions. Check out our South Bay Calendar for the next local Farmers’ Markets.
Turn Off and Unplug Electronics When Not in Use
All those little green and red lights that you see everywhere are sucking up energy (and draining your wallet). Phantom power, also called phantom energy, phantom load, standby power, idle current, and vampire power, is the energy used by appliances and electronics when they are turned off but still plugged in to a power outlet. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), the average home contains 40 products constantly drawing power. Individually, the electricity flowing to a TV that’s been turned off or a coffeemaker programmed to brew in the morning is extremely small, but together, these sleeping devices may account for as much as 10 percent of household energy use. One of the easiest ways to reduce phantom power consumption is to plug appliances like the little used basement TV and VCR into a power strip, then turn the power strip off when the devices are not in use. Some power strips even let you designate a “master” device (such as a computer), then automatically turn off power to peripheral devices (such as a printer, scanner or speakers) when the main component is not in use. Using a power strip also eliminates the need to repeatedly unplug appliances from the wall, reducing the danger of frayed cords and wires. Most power strips use no electricity at all when they are switched off, cutting vampire power consumption to zero for any appliances plugged into them.
Install Solar Panels
Solar panels have been available for homeowners to install for many years, but more affordable technology coupled with tax incentives and rising utility costs have made solar panels increasingly popular. These panels can be installed on the surface of your roof or other areas of the property that receive significant sunlight exposure each day. Professionals can help you to determine the best placement. These panels can produce some, most or even all of the energy your home needs.
Replace Your Windows
Your windows can impact how much heat penetrates through the glass during the warm summer months, and they can also insulate the home during the cooler months of the year to make your HVAC system more efficient. Different models have a different energy efficiency rating, so review the options carefully.
Install New Insulation
You may also consider installing new insulation in the exterior walls of your home as well as in the attic. A significant amount of heat or cooled air can be lost through poor insulation. Some types of insulation, such as fiber insulation, can settle or even be eaten by rodents and pests over time. You can add new fiber insulation, or you can upgrade to foam insulation for better results. This can have a dramatic impact on heating and cooling costs.
Tips for the Efficient Home, courtesy Green-Living-Healthy-Home:
Going green means saving green $$ in the long run. See a living cost comparison between green and typical lifestyles of various age groups to find the side you belong to: