California just became the first state to require solar panels on every new home starting in 2020 in a landmark move for state building regulations and “government controls over climate-warming carbon emissions,” said NBC News. This will be a huge plus for homebuyers who were already looking for ways to be greener, but there is a downside, albeit one with a long-term potential upside: the cost.
“The average estimated cost of a solar system is $9,500, or $40 a month when amortized over a 30-year mortgage,” they said. “But the systems are projected to save customers an average of $80 a month on their utility bills.”
Thankfully, there are a number of other options out there for eco-friendly living that are low cost, and many of them are also low effort.
“To reduce energy consumption in your home, you do not necessarily need to go out and purchase energy efficient products,” said Energy Sage. “Energy conservation can be as simple as turning off lights or appliances when you do not need them. The behavior adjustments that have the highest potential for utility savings are turning down the heat on your thermostat in the winter and using your air conditioner less in the summer. Heating and cooling costs constitute nearly half of an average home’s utility bills, so these reductions in the intensity and frequency of heating and cooling offer the greatest savings.”
Here are some other easy ways to save energy (and money):
Ditch the plastic
Some states have already banned plastic bags at the supermarket and many places are also in the process of changing over from plastic straws to paper straws. You can apply the same concept at home. An easy way to start is by ditching your plastic bottle habit. Instead of buying 36-packs of bottled water, grab a Britta filter instead.
Go meatless on Monday
“The one single factor in our diets that contributes the most to our carbon footprint is meat,” said Tastemade. “Those who eat a lot have double the carbon footprint of those who are vegan. Animals, and livestock, in particular, require a lot more resources like water and grain to raise and process than, say, a head of lettuce.” Experts say that a family of four who regularly eliminates meat from one meal a week can have the same environmental impact as driving a hybrid.
Use less water
If you can’t break your long shower habit, think about other easy ways you can conserve water, like: turning off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth and only running your washing machine when it’s full. Lowering the water temp from high to medium or even cold, where possible, is another great way to lower your energy usage.
Use the dishwasher
You might think you’re saving water by doing dishes by hand, but the opposite is often true. “Doing a full load in your machine is far more efficient than washing the same number of dishes by hand,” said This Old House. “This is especially true if you have an Energy Star dishwasher, which requires an average of four gallons of water per load, compared with the 24 gallons it takes to do them in the sink. Using one will save you 5,000 gallons of water, $40 in utility costs, and 230 hours of your time each year.”
Donate to declutter
“By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced based on the fact that you don’t another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill,” said Real Simple. Take your things to a thrift store or donate to a charity, instead. Your donations will be tax deductible, and you’ll feel great as you start to declutter your place.
Get a Costco membership
There are so many great reasons to shop at Costco, like the free samples and the $1.50 hot dog and soda combo. Buying products in bulk also “reduces the amount of packaging needed, thus providing considerable benefits to the environment,” said Conserve Energy Future.
Get to stepping
“Walking is simply the most environmentally-friendly way of getting from A to B,” said walkit.com. “It uses no fossil fuels, produces no air pollution, and is generally a pretty quiet way of getting about. So if you’re keen to go green, switching from driving to walking for short journeys is one of the easiest ways to make a real difference.” And, it’s good for your heart, too!
Switch out your household cleaners for something greener
Switching to green cleaners can reduce pollution in the air inside and out of your home, “minimizing exposure to both asthma and allergy triggers as well as chemicals that can be harmful to your health,” said Real Simple. “Look for plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels.”
Learn basic composting
If you do want to get your hands a little dirty, composting offers multiple benefits, including reducing the amount of waste in landfills lowering the emission of methane while food is decomposing. “An awful lot of people have said an awful lot about composting,” said Attainable Sustainable. “Mostly, they make it sound like an awful lot of work. Let me clear the air: composting is easy. You do not have to do anything to turn your kitchen scraps and garden waste into compost. Mother Nature will do it for you. Passive composting is an easy way to turn your waste into a useful product without much work on your part at all. You do not have to have a fancy composter. All you need is a place to put your compost pile. And that’s all it has to be: a pile. Dump your kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, and leaves in a pile and forget about it.”