There are a lot of misconceptions about living an eco-friendly lifestyle, particularly the idea that it’s expensive, inconvenient, and requires a full head of dreadlocks.
In reality, it’s easy being green—giving the planet a helping hand is just a matter of making one simple change at a time.
And there’s a big bonus: These small lifestyle changes can often save you money, too.
25 Eco-Friendly Home Tips
Sure, organic foods and hybrid cars cost more than their conventional counterparts, but there are many cheaper ways to lower your waste output and reduce your carbon footprint (or the amount of greenhouse gas emissions—which are largely responsible for climate change—that occur as a result of your activities and purchases).
In many ways, the environmental movement isn’t about adding things to one’s life; it’s about simplifying our lives, cutting out middlemen, thinking economically, and being more hands-on—and that usually means extra change in your pocket!
Put some (or all!) of these easy tips into practice to be friendlier to the planet and your wallet.
This post outlines the top 25 eco-friendly home tips that you can follow to make your home and lifestyle more environmentally-friendly..
1. Switch to LED Light Bulbs
Lighting accounts for about 9 percent of a typical home’s energy use.
A cheap and simple way to reduce your energy bill and your environmental footprint is to replace all your light bulbs with LED bulbs.
LEDs—especially ENERGY STAR rated products use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.
Another benefit of LED bulbs that is often overlooked is the amount of heat they emit.
Standard bulbs emit a lot of heat, which means your air conditioner has to run harder in the summer to compensate.
LED lights emit less heat, which directly and indirectly can save even more energy.
LED bulbs have also evolved over the years to fit all types of needs, from recessed lighting to dimming switches.
2. Stop Buying Bottled Water
Single-use plastic water bottles are incredibly wasteful and have a very negative impact on the environment.
Although common in Texas’ warm weather, people often fail to properly recycle them and they end up in landfills or the ocean.
A solution to this problem is to invest in a water bottle that is not only reusable but also the right size, so you can take it with you wherever you go.
Re-using a water bottle also saves money in the long run, as fewer plastic bottles will need to be purchased.
3. Start Recycling and Composting
If you own a recycle bin, you’ll be more conscious about recycling glass bottles, jars, paper, and other items that should be recycled.
To make recycling and composting as easy as possible, make sure to have bins for trash and recycling in more rooms than just the kitchen.
A lot of recyclable material is thrown away in home offices and bathrooms just because the recycling bin is too far away.
A compost bin will help you get rid of leftovers and will give you free fertilizer you can use for your plants.
These days, compost bins are designed to be neat, tidy, and odor-free.
Plus, they make your life easier since they help you reduce household waste.
Did you know that 50% of trash that homes produce is composed of food scrap?
When these scraps of food go to the dump, they serve no purpose.
But if you have a compost bin in your home, you can use those scraps to make fertilizer for your garden.
Most outdoor composters cost between $100 and $600, depending on how large and secure they are.
To avoid attracting pests, make sure to get one with a tight-fitting lid and a secure hatch at the bottom for removing fertilizer when it’s ready to be put to work.
4. Eat Less Meat
Believe it or not, cutting back on your consumption of meat can make a huge difference in the environment.
More than 30 percent of the Earth’s surface is being used to raise and support livestock.
According to a United Nations study, “the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2.”
Cutting back on your meat consumption is an important step in reducing the overall emission of GWP gases.
Less livestock also means more land we can enjoy and use for recreation.
Consider replacing some of your meat-heavy meals with vegetables or eating more seafood!
5. Use Fewer Paper Towels
You don’t have to give up paper towels completely, but it’s best to use them sparingly.
Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) compared the seven most common methods for drying hands and found that using paper towels generates 70 percent more carbon emissions than cold air-driven hand dryers.
Of course, you probably don’t have a hand dryer at home, but even using a cotton towel is 48 percent more eco-friendly than drying off with a paper towel.
Instead of purchasing a dozen rolls of paper towels when you are ready to do your spring cleaning, cut up an old t-shirt and use that as a rag instead.
You were going to toss it out anyway, why not save some money and the planet at the same time?
Collect all of your used rags in a basket together and wash them all at the same time.
Use, re-use and repeat!
6. Use Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper
A lot of trees are cut down in order to make toilet paper rolls.
It requires at least 17 trees and 90,921 litres of water for a ton of toilet paper rolls.
As the average person uses 100 rolls in a year, using regular toilet paper is not a very eco-friendly habit.
Consumers could use eco friendly toilet paper made out of bamboo.
Bamboo grows incredibly fast, with some species growing as much as 36 inches in a 24 hour period.
Toilet paper made out of bamboo is a much more sustainable option compared to regular toilet paper.
7. Install a Smart Thermostat
Install a programmable thermostat to monitor and control your cooling and heating systems.
A smart thermostat can reduce the cost of your utility bill and make your home more eco-friendly at the same time.
Perhaps the biggest reason to upgrade to a smart thermostat is for the energy cost savings.
With a smart thermostat, it’s easy to schedule your HVAC to run less while you’re out for the day, so you’ll use less energy by cooling your home only while you’re in it.
You can program your digital thermostat to kick in right before family members are scheduled to start coming home, so that your home is cooled to a perfect 72 degrees from the moment you walk in the door.
How much can you expect to save?
Different manufacturers tout different levels of savings, but the Nest smart thermostat claims you’ll save 15 percent on cooling costs and 10 to 12 percent on heating costs.
The manufacturers of the Ecobee smart thermostat claim customers save 23 percent on combined heating and cooling costs.
8. Turf Off the Lights & Unplug Unused Electronics
There’s a reason light switches are located by the door!
Make a habit of turning them off when leaving a room, and especially whenever you leave the house—you’ll save energy (and save on the energy bill) in the process.
The energy you can save by turning off the lights would depend on the type of bulbs you’re using.
One of the least energy-efficient types of lighting is an incandescent light bulb.
These lights tend to produce heat as their primary electrical conversion before they can generate light.
Ninety percent of incandescent light bulbs’ energy use is given off as heat while only ten percent results in light.
Therefore, turning off your incandescent light bulbs can help you save more energy in your home.
Turning off halogen lights when not in use can also help reduce energy bill since they use the same technology as incandescent light bulbs.
You also need to follow the general rule of thumb when you turn off Compact Fluorescent Lights or CFLs.
You can leave the lights on if you’ll return to your room within 15 minutes.
But if you go out of your house for more than 15 minutes, then it’s more energy saving to turn them off.
The strategy will also help extend the life of your CFL bulbs.
However, Light Emitting Diodes or LED bulbs will not be affected whether you leave them on or turn them off.
It’s one of the essential characteristics of LED bulbs that makes them ideal for your energy conservation at home.
You can also utilize sensors that can help switch them on and off automatically and turn their full brightness instantly.
9. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water
Up to 90% of the energy a washing machine uses goes toward heating water, according to Energy Star.
By using the cold water setting on your washing machine, you can eliminate up to 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
So skip the heating and just use your washing machine on the cold water setting.
This way, you reduce carbon dioxide emission but you also keep your clothes in top condition for longer, as hot water can deteriorate the fabric and make your colorful clothes less vibrant.
Unless you’re dealing with stubborn stains like oil stains, there really isn’t a point in running your washing machine on the hot water setting.
If you feel the cold water setting doesn’t do a proper job, you can try the warm setting.
Energy-wise it’s still better than using the hot water one, but also more efficient for cleaning than the cold water setting.
10. Dry Laundry on a Clothesline
The EPA determined that a dryer uses more energy than a refrigerator, washer, and dishwasher, and line drying can reduce energy usage from major appliances in a typical household by as much as one-third.
During sunny and hot months, it’s almost a shame to not line-dry your clothes outside.
There is something special about line-drying in the fresh air.
Not to mention, your clothes and bedding will last longer if you hang them outside on a drying rack instead of drying them in the dryer.
If you don’t have a garden or a backyard where you can line-dry your clothes, you can install a drying rack on your balcony and keep the windows open to allow the sun to dry your clothes faster.
11. Use Organic Cleaning Products
Household cleaning supplies are jam-packed with the most powerful bacteria killers in existence.
These products are expertly engineered to completely annihilate just about every organism they come into contact with.
Unsurprisingly, these man made poisons aren’t great for the environment, and many have toxic effects on animal and plant life once they enter our waterways via sewer systems.
Organic cleaning products use environmentally-friendly ingredients that reduce toxicity.
Green certified products are held to stringent green cleaning standards by third party organizations.
One caveat with organic cleaning products is that they’re often more expensive.
As an alternative, you can make your own cleaning products using items like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.
Making your own products cuts down on packaging waste and reduces the release of household chemicals that can contribute to air and water pollution.
12. Use Reusable Grocery Bags
Most stores offer a canvas bag alternative to their wasteful generic plastic and paper bags.
Although a canvas bag might cost a small amount to acquire, they are actually much more useful than you might think.
A canvas bag is sturdier than a traditional plastic or paper bag and can hold more goods.
A canvas bag can also be used to store items or pack items when moving – making it useful in more than one way.
Even if you don’t use canvas bags, reusing plastic bags is a great way to live more eco-friendly.
Just use your plastic bags in small garbage cans throughout your home, or recycle your used grocery bag!
Every small change can make a difference.
13. Take Shorter Showers
Don’t dawdle in the shower just because the warm water feels nice on your skin.
The average person in the U.S. uses 25,300 gallons of water a year (69.3 gallons daily).
You can help reduce the waste of this precious resource by making simple changes in your daily routine.
An average shower uses about 5 gallons of water per minute.
Shortening your shower by a minute or two can save up to 150 gallons of water per month.
You can further reduce your water consumption by turning the water off while soaping.
And if you keep your shower unter five minutes total, you can save up to 1,000 gallons yearly.
14. Install Artificial Grass
Environmentally conscious homeowners have begun transitioning to artificial grass in recent years to reduce water water use, air-pollution, and their overall carbon foot-print.
“According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over one-third of residential water is used for lawn irrigation nationwide, totaling more than 4 billion gallons of water a day. The Southern Nevada Water Authority also estimates that every square foot of grass replaced with synthetic turf saves an additional 55 gallons of water per year. Therefore, an average lawn of 1,800 square feet will save 99,000 gallons of water a year if landscaped with synthetic turf – about 70% of a homeowner’s water bill, or up to $500.”
Artificial grass lawns eliminate several costs associated with natural lawns including:
- Lawn care equipment such as mowers, weed whackers, edgers, etc.
- Fuel and general maintenance for equipment
- Landscapers and gardeners
- Fertilizers, pesticides, etc.
Overall, choosing artificial grass can keep the look and feel of a well-maintained, lush lawn without the added time and expense of a natural lawn.
For a complete breakdown of the long-term ROI of artificial turf, check out: Home Advisor
One of the biggest financial and environmental savings that fake grass creates is in water.
The average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses.
More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens.
That’s a lot of cash and empty aquifers just for green grass.
A healthy-looking natural grass lawn usually requires a plethora of harmful chemicals, such as:
These substances keep your lawn green and pretty, but they can contaminate groundwater, alter the chemistry of the soil, and even cause cancer and other diseases.
15. Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances
When it comes time to replace an appliance, it’s best to choose an energy-efficient version if you want to achieve sustainable living.
If you need to replace any household appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, ovens, and refrigerators, look for Energy Star labels.
Energy Star is a partnership between the EPA and appliance manufacturers.
The label shows consumers that a third-party has verified that the product is low water and low energy.
Energy Star Appliances, may cost a bit more money to buy initially, but are more durable, more environmentally friendly, and will save cash on utility bills.
An Energy Star washing machine, for instance, uses 50 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than standard washers.
16. Donate Clothes & Unused Items
Donate clothes and unused items, or have a garage sale rather than tossing your unwanted goods in the trash.
Throwing something away should always be your last resort.
Try first to give it a new home, donate it to an organization or school (think tax write off!), or sell it in a yard sale, online ad or consignment shop.
17. Fix Leaking Toilets and Faucets
Leaking toilets and faucets may not seem like a big deal, but they can waste a lot of water.
According to EPA.gov, 10 percent of homes have leaks that can waste up to 90 gallons or more of water per day, and the average household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year.
For more sustainable living, these leaks need to be repaired.
Pay attention to any dripping noises you might hear around the house.
And, pay close attention to your water bill.
An unexplainable spike in your monthly statement can be a sign of a leak.
If you notice a leak, you’ll need to call a plumber to assess the situation.
If left untreated, the fixture may need to be replaced or your pipes may need to be fixed.
This will cost you much more in the long run.
It’s especially important to stay vigilant if you plan to sell your home, plumbing is part of every standard home inspection.
If there are leaks, it may signal to potential buyers that you haven’t been maintaining the home.
18. Go Paperless
Switching to paperless billing lowers the odds of losing bills in the mail and getting the electricity cut off right before your movie marathon.
Plus, many billers offer a discount for going paperless because it saves them money on stamps and printing—it also cuts down on paper, which cuts down on the number of trees killed.
If your biller doesn’t offer a paperless option, petition them to do so!
If you do use paper, remember to recycle.
More than 40 percent of municipal solid waste is paper and paper products.
It takes less energy to create paper through recycled and used sheets than by creating ‘virgin’ paper.
19. Seal Gaps Around Doors and Windows
Older homes tend to have gaps around doors and windows that let in outside air or let heat escape in the wintertime.
If your home has gaps, the air coming from your HVAC system will be going out the window.
This will make your energy bill increase and your carbon footprint larger.
Putting weather stripping around doors and windows will save you money on your heating and cooling bill, and will make your home more energy-efficient.
You can buy weatherstripping from any hardware store and install it yourself in a matter of hours.
20. Install Low-Flow Shower Head
The investment in a low-flow showerhead will be worth it when you receive your next water bill and it is significantly lower than the last.
Older showerheads release approximately five gallons of water a minute, which adds up quickly, especially if you have multiple people showering in the house.
Low-flow showerheads, such as those with the WaterSense label, use less than two gallons per minute, conserving more water and cutting down your water bill.
According to EPA.gov, showering accounts for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use for the average family.
If your shower fills a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a WaterSense® labeled model.
The average family could save 2,700 gallons per year by installing WaterSense labeled showerheads.
Since these water savings will reduce demands on water heaters, they will also save energy.
In fact, the average family could save more than 330 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power a house for 11 days.
On a national scale, if every home in the United States installed WaterSense labeled showerheads, we could save more than $2.9 billion in water utility bills and more than 260 billion gallons of water annually.
In addition, we could avoid about $2.5 billion in energy costs for heating water.
21. Borrow Instead of Buying
It’s easy to waste money on things that you can easily borrow.
Rent movies, borrow books from libraries and buy secondhand goods when at all possible.
By purchasing and using pre-owned items, you reduce the items that will end up in a landfill and save yourself money.
Living green doesn’t mean you have to settle for less, many items that you find in a used-goods store are just as good as the original.
Before any big purchase, think: How often will I really use this ladder/leaf blower/wheelbarrow?
If the answer is “not a lot,” it’s easy to borrow stuff (especially if you like making “thank you” cookies).
There are a number of apps that help people borrow or rent whatever they might need.
22. Plant a Veggie Garden
If you want to take your eco-friendly eating habits one step further, you can use your backyard space to start growing your own produce.
“By growing your own food, you eliminate the emissions that come from the transportation of goods to your local markets and mass grocery stores,” Arcadia Power advises.
When you buy foods from these shops, you should take into consideration the fact that these foods travel an average of 1,500+ miles before ever being consumed.
Not only does this impact the freshness and flavor of the food, but more importantly, this emits dangerous amounts of carbon emissions and waste associated with air freight and other transportation methods into the atmosphere.
By growing your own food, you are helping to reduce the high amounts of burning fossil fuels that fill our environment as a direct result of importing foods from commercial farmers.
You also are reducing waste from food packaging materials such as man-made plastics and cardboard, that also travel hundreds and thousands of miles.
23. Water Your Garden With “Greywater”
Greywater is the water that comes out of the drains of showers, baths, sinks, and washing machines and is distinctly different from black water, which is what gets flushed down the toilet.
Greywater can be used for watering houseplants, landscaping, or even flushing the toilet, so it’s a resource we can use twice.
The problem is that our modern plumbing doesn’t distinguish between the two, but instead combines them as sewage.
So, unless we manually divert or capture it, greywater essentially becomes black water, rendering it useless until it goes through the municipal water treatment process.
Assuming you aren’t using harsh cleaning or laundry products, including chlorine and bleach in the laundry or bathroom, a greywater system can be an effective method of reusing this used water to water trees or other landscape plants.
24. Collect Rainwater
One night of rain can dump 300 gallons of water on the roof of your house, much of which flows into the street, collecting street pollutants like oil, fertilizer, cigarette butts, and animal waste.
The runoff ends up in your city’s stormwater collection system, which dumps into public waterways.
Rainwater harvesting is collecting the run-off from a structure or other impervious surface in order to store it for later use.
Traditionally, this involves harvesting the rain from a roof.
The rain will collect in gutters that channel the water into downspouts and then into some sort of storage vessel.
Rainwater collection systems can be as simple as collecting rain in a rain barrel or as elaborate as harvesting rainwater into large cisterns to supply your entire household demand.
To install a rainwater collection system, consider hiring a professional to clip your gutters and redirect them to pour into the barrel.
You can attach a hose to the barrel, or you can simply use a watering can to move the water from the barrel to your plants or garden.
This can have a positive impact on sustainable living and conserving water outdoors.
25. Install a Low-Flow Toilet
According to the EPA, toilets account for almost 30 percent of the average household’s indoor water usage.
One easy way to slash this number is by upgrading an older toilet model to an EPA-certified WaterSense model.
Nationwide estimates that the eco-friendly models can save as much as 13,000 gallons of water per year, plus slash water bills by $90.
Toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption.
Older toilets use as much as six gallons per flush, while newer, more efficient toilets use about one gallon or less.
You can reduce water used for toilets and money spent on your water bill by replacing old toilets with newer water-efficient models.
Wrapping Up The Top 25 Eco-Friendly Home Tips…
All things considered, artificial grass is a great investment for homeowners who want to boost curb appeal, decrease maintenance time and costs, want to keep kids and pets safe, and are looking to do their part to decrease their carbon footprint.
Though the initial cost is a potential drawback, the Pros definitely outweigh the few Cons.