Eco-Friendly Home Tips – 25 Useful Ideas

Eco-Friendly Home Tips – 25 Useful Ideas

Increasingly the eco-friendliness of your home is a great choice. After all, we all want to support sustainability efforts, and be good to our world. Unfortunately, many of the “green” products on the market do come at a more expensive cost, which can put your budget in a pinch and dampen your enthusiasm for adopting new, environmentally friendly habits. There is good news, though: there are many different, inexpensive ways you can make your home better for the environment.

Here are 25 way to increase your sustainability efforts at home:

  1.             Eliminate incandescent light bulbs. New alternatives, like LED lights, burn for longer at cooler temperatures while still producing beautiful light.
  2.             Stop buying bottled water. If your tap water isn’t exactly tasty, choose to use a water filter that attaches to your faucet, or that can be stored in your fridge as a pitcher.
  3.             Take advantage of your garbage company’s recycling program.
  4.             Don’t throw batteries in the trash. They contain toxic chemicals that can leak into the water supply. Check online to find a battery recycling center near you.
  5.             Use fewer paper towels. Instead, buy a stack of cheap bar towels from a restaurant supply store and use them to mop up messes.
  6.             Don’t heat or cool your house when you’re away during the day. A programmable thermostat is a wondrous investment that will quickly pay for itself in savings and reduced hassle. It will even warm up your rooms before you get out of bed in the morning.
  7.             Don’t leave the lights on when you aren’t home, either.
  8.             Use a reusable thermal coffee cup instead of disposable single-use varieties.
  9.             Take the time to winterize your home with caulk, window and door seal-strips, all of which will help keep your home warmer without relying on the heater.
  10.             Switch to organic cleaning products – or make your own non-toxic products such as white vinegar.
  11.             Take tote bags to the grocery store rather than relying on plastic bags every time. Keep your reusable bags in your car so they’re never forgotten.
  12.             Shorten your showers to five minutes.
  13.             Switch to artificial turf for your lawn areas. It looks and feels better than natural grass, and requires little maintenance. You save time, money and water, and avoid polluting waterways with fertilizers. Artificial turf is even recyclable, when the time comes to replace it.
  14.             Use all that you buy for longer lengths of time. Just because a new version is sold doesn’t mean you need it.
  15.             Help someone else recycle by purchasing used items at garage sales, on Craigslist, or in thrift shops.
  16.             Help others by donating clothes and unused items, or hold a garage sale rather than tossing your unwanted goods in the trash.
  17.             Unplug your electronic gear once it’s charged, or when you aren’t using it.
  18.             Go paperless with online banking and bill-paying.
  19.             Don’t buy foods packaged in individual wrappers, such as yogurt, cheeses, and snacks.
  20.             Install an adjustable low-flow shower head, or low-flow faucet aerators.
  21.             Share tools and equipment, such as lawnmowers, with neighbors.
  22.             Plant a veggie garden – in pots, if you’re short on outdoor space.
  23.             Water your garden with “gray” water you’ve used to rinse dishes or laundry.
  24.             Collect rain water to use on your garden rather than turning on the hose.
  25.             Create a low-flow toilet by filling a plastic bottle with water and setting it in your toilet tank to displace some of the flush water.

Ideas for Drought Tolerant Landscaping in Texas

A yard that blends into the natural landscape not only showcases the unique aspects of an area but reduces water usage as well.
In Texas, you must also consider the lack of available water. Planting water-free or low water plants in your yard is a great first step to lowering your water use. The best way to create a drought tolerant landscaping is to blend low or water-free natural elements with artificial grass.

Xeriscaping, landscaping that concentrates on reducing water needs, is one of the most popular trends today. The reason for the rise of this unique landscape design is because local cities are mandating citizens to use less water. Other factors, such as droughts, have also played a role in people learning about this technique and applying it. It can also improve your curb appeal!

What Is Included in Xeriscaping?
Xeriscaping refers to gardening and landscaping that reduces or eliminates the need for water. It includes:

  • Ground covering elements like artificial grass, brick or stone patios, and walkways.
  • Décor such as bird baths, fountains and patio furniture.
  • Other elements like retaining walls, plastered walls, flagstone and pebbles.
  • Plants that are natural to the area and work well in drought tolerant landscaping.
  • Natural fabrics and wood produced fabrics that can remain outside.

Considering the Area
North Texas has a couple of weather patterns. In the Dallas-Forth Worth area, summers are hot and can be humid. However, the hottest part of the summer, topping 100 degrees, comes with dryness. Precipitation can either be a drought in the summer or flooding in the spring or fall.

Going more west and further north in places like Amarillo, summer temperatures hover in the 90s during the day and upper 60s at night. There is no precipitation for long periods, creating a need for drought tolerant landscaping.
This information is important in creating your xeriscape design because you will need to pick elements that can withstand the weather in your area.

There are a couple of elements that work beautifully in both of these types of weather and work well for drought tolerant landscaping. They include:

  • Stone. Whether it is a flagstone patio or pebble paths, stone will last no matter what the weather and naturally fits in both environments.
  • Artificial grass. Grass grows naturally in north Texas, but may be hard to maintain because of erratic weather patterns. Artificial grass will blend in with the landscape and requires very little maintenance.
  • Natural fabrics. Most of today’s fabrics are meant to withstand weather.
How to Do It
There are numerous ways to create an oasis in your backyard without using a lot of water.Some ideas include:
  • Build a stone or brick patio. This reduces yard space, so less water is used.
  • Build an outdoor fireplace. These are becoming popular as they create an outdoor room for entertaining. Since north Texas has cooler temperatures in the fall, along with some periods of cold weather in winter, an outdoor fireplace will extend time outside beyond the summer.
  • Use natural plants including tall grasses, border plants and container plants. Some ideas for north Texas include Horsemint, the Four Nerve Daisy, and Indian Blanket. All work well for drought tolerant landscaping.
  • Create a rock garden. Rocks and boulders are unique and can be arranged in a natural sculpture, blending into your drought tolerant landscape design. Drought resistant plants and cactus can be placed around them to enhance the garden.
  • Install artificial grass in small courtyards or in between concrete or pebble borders. This can be a difficult area to grow grass and even harder to keep manicured. Artificial turf is the perfect solution and adds color to your landscape. Since it requires no water, it works well in drought tolerant landscaping.
  • Use pebbles for pathways through your garden areas. This adds a natural beauty and is easy to maintain.
  • Install a water feature. While water conservation is key in xeriscaping, most water features today recycle water so there is little water loss. Having a water element in an otherwise hot and dry environment will add to the oasis effect. For the ultimate conservation of water, connect it to a rain barrel, so you aren’t using city water.
  • Add color with fabric. Use fabric to create outdoor curtains for a porch, cushions or pillows for furniture or pergolas.
These are just some of the vast array of ideas you can use to create interest in your yard and make it a relaxing place for the family to spend time. The best part is implementing these elements in your drought-tolerant landscaping can save up to 80 percent on water use, which reduces your water bill.

10 Tips to Reduce Your Water Bill in Texas

Living in Texas means being exposed to very warm temperatures. Texans know plenty about making the most of the precious resource, water. Water is not only vital to lives, but also our ecosystem, which means that as Texans, we must do our part to conserve it. By making the effort to conserve water, you’ll also find that you’re actually helping to lower your monthly water bill. With warm climates and droughts on the rise, conservation is as important as ever. Residential water can be conserved in a variety of ways, both indoor and outdoor.

Below are 10 ideas to help you conserve water indoors and outdoors and therefore reduce your water bill!

What is Indoor Water Conservation?

Indoor water use usually comes from things that we do on a daily basis around our home. Taking a shower, washing clothes, flushing the toilet and watering indoor plants are just a few examples of the activities that require water usage on a day to day basis. Indoor water conservation is basically the effort to limit the water that we use around our household. Here’s some tip on how you can conserve and lower your water bill at the same time…

1. Less Time in the Shower
Reducing shower time can contribute to water conservation on a daily basis. The recommended amount of shower time is 5 minutes and that is estimated to reduce your water usage by half.

2. Check for leaks
Faucet and pipe leaks in your household are common but easy to fix. Leaks can waste up to 16 gallons of water per household every day.

3. Turn the Faucet Off!
A faucet actually uses 1-2 gallons of water per minute. So, as simple as it sounds, just turning off your faucet while brushing your teeth or doing the dishes can help you conserve water.

4. Get an Efficient Toliet
Yes, an efficient toilet can help you in your water conservation effort. More than 45% of water use in the average American home comes from the bathroom, with nearly 27% being used by toilets. HETs (High-Efficiency Toilets) use no more than 1.28 Gallons Per Flush and will save you money in the long run.

5. Washing Full Loads
It’s easy to get in the habit of running your dishwasher with only a few things inside. It’s even easier to decide to watch a load of clothes with only a few garments. Of the total household water use, the washing machine constitutes about 14 percent. However, if you wash full loads you’re actually saving water. Your dishwasher and washing machine actually use about the same amount of energy and water regardless of the amount of dishes and clothes inside. With full loads, you’ll wash less and save more.

What is Outdoor Water Conservation?

Outdoor water use usually comes from things that we do around the outside of our house. In the State of Texas the average homeowner over waters their yard by approximately 50%. This calculates to about 8,500 gallons per month. Activities ranging from lawn watering to an afternoon spent washing your car can add up. Here’re a few ways to conserve water in your very own backyard…

6. Moderate Watering
This one sounds simple enough – moderate the water you use outside. Easy enough, right? Well, when you’re constantly trying to keep your yard up – it’s not as easy as it sounds. Green grass in the yard is a goal that every homeowner dreams of, but it comes at a cost. That cost being major water usage and an increase in your water bill. In an effort to save water, instead of watering your lawn every day, consider watering every 2-3 days. Also, check to see if your grass actually needs water each day. You can determine this by just stepping on it for a few seconds.

7. Artificial Turf
In states such as Texas where temperatures run high, artificial lawns are becoming the yard of the future. With nearly 60% of water usage attributed to lawn and garden maintenance, it makes sense that more people are turning to artificial turf because it requires minimal water and upkeep. When you install artificial turf you’re cutting down on water, upkeep maintenance and cost and you could save as much as 56,000 gallons of water a year!

8. Salvage Rain Water
Another tip to help you reduce your water bill is to utilize rainwater. You can collect the rainwater and then use that to water plants and therefore reduce your water costs and usage.

9. Smarter Pool Upkeep
Pools and spas can contribute to up 15% of your household water use if not kept up properly. By not overfilling your pool and only draining your spas once every three to six months, you’ll be on the right track with your conservation efforts.

10. Rethink Your Landscape
Consider making certain areas of your yard less dependent on water in order to thrive. For example, you can use rocks, gravel, woodchips or other materials throughout your lawn that require no water at all.

Conserving and Reducing
Texans take pride in their landscape and in their homes and there’s not greater time than the present to join the masses when it comes to water conservation efforts. The best part is, water conservation is the not only a good thing for you in terms of conserving resources and helping your environment, it can also help to lower your water bill.