For homeowners looking to embrace a greener way of living, the New Year may be the ideal time to make lifestyle changes. Sustainable home projects don’t have to include a massive budget; in fact, many DIY sustainable projects around the home can be quite simple and inexpensive.
Making changes to decrease energy use or taking on environmental-friendly improvement projects not only could save money, but these greener choices also could help decrease the household’s carbon footprint.
Here are seven DIY sustainable projects around the home that can save money and help your household live greener:
1. Reset the Thermostat
This project actually costs $0! But it’s actually such a great money saver. If you live in an area where the temperature dips low, the thermostat on the HVAC shouldn’t be set so high that the home feels balmy. While, yes, some people like a little extra warmth, setting the thermostat too high wastes energy and money. During winter, set the temperature in the home to around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The Department of Energy also recommends nudging it cooler when not at home.
When hot summer days feel like an oven, that thermostat also needs to be adjusted yet again. During summer, set the temperature in the home to 78 degrees (again, bump it up even more when not at home). And to ensure that the sun’s heat doesn’t pour into the home, keep the drapes closed! Especially during the heat of the day.
If you need a reminder, get in the habit of adjusting the thermostat on the day of the summer and winter solstices. Set a reminder on your phone on the date of the winter solstice to nudge down the heat (the winter solstice typically hits around December 21…give or take a day). Set another reminder in June during the summer solstice to double-check the temp on the air conditioning.
2. Upgrade Your Appliances
In need of a new washer/dryer, dishwasher or refrigerator? When you’re shopping look for energy efficient appliances; typically they will bear the ENERGY STAR logo. These appliances save your home on energy…and, in turn, save you money. There are many products and brands that bear the ENERGY STAR logo. Homeowners can visit the Energystar.gov website for more information about products, how to recycle old appliances and more!
3. Use or Install Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are a sustainable way to circulate air to keep homeowners feeling a little cooler or warmer. Homeowners can find ceiling fans in many styles, colors and prices. Some feature exotic woods like bamboo. Others include ornate designs. Or just choose a basic sleek style. Homeowners can find a basic fan for under $100.
During winter, make sure to set the blades to spin clockwise. In summer, reverse the fan. There is disagreement about energy savings and ceiling fans during winter; according to an article by SFGATE, one university didn’t recommend using a ceiling fan during winter, but another found that using one may save homeowners on their heating costs.
Like all appliances or items in the home that use electricity, though, don’t waste energy by leaving fans on all the time. When homeowners leave, they should flip the switch.
4. Grow a Garden!
After the brutal winter, spring will return. This means it could be time to start planting seeds for the garden. Homeowners with a green thumb may enjoy the fruits of their labor. Growing fruits and vegetables not only keeps homeowners out of the grocery store produce aisles, but those plants also could attract pollinating bees!
The Family Handyman also recommends opting for ‘native plants.’ These are plants that are natural to your area.
5. Create a Recycling Station
Start a recycling center at home. This isn’t a difficult project, so don’t stress! Homeowners will need to do a little research, though, to find out if there are recycling pickups in their area. Or if they will need to drop off items at recycling centers.
Glass, paper and aluminum cans are the most common items to recycle. Many people recycle plastic, too. Again, though, the materials homeowners recycle may depend on what is offered in their area…or if there are close recycling centers for easy drop off.
6. Start a Compost Pile
Recycling doesn’t end with just tossing materials in bins. Old waste like potato peels, apple cores and other degradable material can be composted. This creates nutrient-rich soil to help plants thrive. Garden waste like leaves also can be composted. Just avoid animal debris—think meats, bones, etc. Planet Natural has a full list of all the items that can be composted. Check it out!
Homeowners can design their own compost area or buy materials. Good Housekeeping provides a great tutorial for a DIY compost enclosure.
7. Conduct a Home Energy Audit
Another DIY project to help homeowners live more sustainably through energy savings is to conduct a home energy audit. This involves going through the home room by room and inspecting outlets for unused appliances and gadgets, pipes for leaks or drips, faucets for drips, and checking the temperature on the hot water heater and thermostat. While homeowners could hire a pro, the professional audit could cost several hundred dollars.
The idea is to identify areas of energy waste that are sucking money each month. Homeowners also can download the HomeSelfe app for an easy and virtual home energy audit. Just take a picture of the reach room and HomeSelfe will point out all the energy drains.
There are many more DIY sustainable projects that homeowners can undertake to help save energy and money. Welcome 2021 by decreasing your carbon footprint and making changes in the home to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle.