Introduction: How to Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly

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Having an environmentally friendly home is a simple way to help protect the environment.

There are many DIY techniques that can be used to make your home more environmentally friendly. Most of the products required for these techniques are inexpensive and can be purchased at your local home improvement store. This instructable focuses on evaluating 5 main areas in your home.

Step 1: Decrease Electrical Usage

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Electrical usage makes up a large portion of a home utility bill. For example, any household item that is plugged into an outlet is using energy even if the item is not on. Conducting an energy audit is a great way to create a baseline for home electrical usage.

How to Conduct an Energy Audit:
• Record every item that is connected to an electrical outlet
• Record when the item is used or needs electricity
• Evaluate when the item needs to be connected to an outlet
• Unplug items based on the conclusions from step 3
• Shut off any unused surge suppressors and power strips.

When purchasing a large appliance it is very important to make sure that the appliance is energy efficient. Any appliance that has the Energy Star logo on it meets the specifications of the government supported Energy Star Program. For more information check out http://www.energystar.gov/

Incandescent bulbs are present in many older homes today. These types of bulbs have a low initial cost but are highly inefficient. Incandescent bulbs should be replaced with Compact Fluorescent Light (CFLs) bulbs. Although the initial cost of a CFL is more than that of an incandescent bulb, the energy required to power the bulb is 75% less.

Step 2: Increase Heating and Cooling Efficiency

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Heating and Cooling systems are the largest electrical users in a home. Geothermal heating and cooling is currently the most efficient system available. This type of system requires the installation of a heat pump, heat exchanger, and distribution system. The initial cost of this type of system is more than that of the average heating cooling system but is still reasonable due to the steep decrease in electrical utility bills once it is installed. For more information on geothermal energy watch the following video.



If the windows and doors in a home do not seal properly a significant amount of energy will be wasted due to unnecessary cooling and heating. There are several products that can be purchased to seal windows and doors. All seals in a home should be inspected annually. Rope Caulk can be used to create a seal where windows open and close. Alternatively a Window Insulation Kit can be used to place an air tight plastic covering over the window. Both products are shown in a photo below.

Step 3: Decrease Water Usage

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Water usage is something that many people find challenging to reduce. Replacing all of the nozzles in a home with low flow, high pressure nozzles is a simple way to start reducing water. This type of nozzle is able to clean just as effectively as a normal nozzle. The higher pressure of the water spreads the stream over a larger area which reduces the amount of water required.


Step 4: Recycle and Compost

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Recycling is a well known technique. Items such as tin cans, bottles, cardboard, and paper are actively being collected by waste management facilities. Handing over the recycled goods is typically as easy as putting them in a separate container next to your non-recyclable trash. This may vary by city. Contact your local waste management facility to get more information on a program near you.

Composting is a simple way to reuse goods from your home. Any organic substance can be composted as long as it does not decrease the oxygen content of the compost. Oxygen is required for the decay of the compost to occur. Organic materials include leaves, grass, some food products, hay, etc. All of these organic materials are added to a bin and allowed to sit and decay. The end product is very fertile and can be added to gardens.

Step 5: Use Environmentally Friendly Cleaners

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Common household cleaners are very harmful to the environment. The chemicals that are used in most of these products do not have the capability to completely break down in water. Although they may meet regulatory criteria there is still a negative impact on the environment. There are many biodegradable cleaners available at local supermarkets.

Comments

jwoo2023 (author)2011-01-01

led light are better at saving energy! 1 led uses about 0.05 watts

hogthrob (author)2009-10-17

Hi, you have some good stuff here. I dont know if they are available in the US but we have really great warm light LEDs available in europe now, which run at 1-2 watts. Also you can look at task lighting as most rooms dont require flooding with light - for example in the kitchen the only place that needs real light is the worktop to stop you cutting off your fingers the rest of the time you only need enough light not to walk into things. 

Geothermal is excellent but do you mean 'Geothermal' or do you mean 'ground source' heat pumps? We did a study ( i work for an architect specialising in zero carbon buildings) that ground source heat pumps are less efficient than just using gas to heat the home when it comes to carbon release and energy consumed. As most people are attached to the grid the loss in transmission means that although you get a great coefficient in the home you get a really poor coefficient overall. We then found that (in the UK) roof sizes were not large enough to support enough solar panels to power the pumps 24/7 and still provide enough enery for the rest of the domestic load.

We found solar thermal for hotwater backed up with a small amount of biomass, and super insulated airtight buildings to be the best solution.

If you are interested we wrote a book 'the ZEDbook' all about it - its available through RIBA books.


good instructable keep spreading the word.

drewSaysGoVeg (author)2009-10-09

Lots of great tips. I definitely need to seal my windows better this Winter.

If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint, remember changing what you eat is a major part. Eating meat causes more greenhouse gases than all transportation combined. Crazy!  Yeah, make sense to eat more plant foods.

brabantia (author)2009-10-08

or ... you can use your own: <br />- 50/50 vinegar/water and some baking soda. Gets rid of (cigaret) smells too and because it doesn't have oil (in readymade products oil is added to make things shine) it doesn't attract dust = less cleaning needed.<br />oh and it gets rid of 90percent of bacteria/viruses etc. (not 99 percent like with lysol, but 90 is good enough for me)<br />also works for windows, especially if you rub them dry with old newspaper.<br />For cleaning the inside of an oven or the glass window of the fireplace, I use moist (firewood) ashes and a scrubbing pad, dirt comes off real easy, afterwards rinse with just water; works!<br /><br />thx for helpfull instructable! Wish I'd find a good european version tho ...<br /><br />

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Bio: Student in engineering with an emphasis on environmental issues.
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