Jul 30, 2018
Image: The Daily Courier
Many households in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area are adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle, from using reusable grocery bags and ditching plastic straws to eating less meat.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about sustainable living, particularly regarding the cost of going green. Yes, installing solar panels or buying an electric car isn’t an affordable option for most families — but, there are several small changes you can implement in your daily life that can reduce energy and water waste, and put money back in your pocket.
Sustainable Living Home Maintenance
Follow these tips to make your home more eco-friendly this summer:
1. Use your air conditioner efficiently
One of the most effective ways to increase energy savings this summer is to be strategic about air conditioner usage.
There are certain times of day when cranking the A/C is unnecessary. If the house is unoccupied during work hours, you don’t need the A/C blasting. It’s also smart to raise the temperature by a few degrees at night when everyone’s asleep. Using a programmable thermostat to set your air conditioner to different temperatures throughout the day can help save energy and cut costs on your next utility bill.
Tip: Save extra money by bumping up the thermostat to the highest temperature you can comfortably stand — your body will adjust to the temperature changes pretty quickly.
Read more: Are You Using Your Air Conditioner Efficiently?
2. Invest in house plants
House plants not only add a nice pop of color to your living room or kitchen countertop, but can also help naturally filter and purify the air in your home.
Cleaning products, chemical flame retardants often found in mattresses and children’s clothing, and formaldehyde (found in paper towels, trash bags, carpet backing, and more) are just some of the common airborne toxins that exist in your home — not to mention bacteria, pollen, and molds that often build up on surfaces and in air vents.
According to a famous 1989 NASA study, several common house plants can remove harmful chemicals from the air through photosynthesis. Additional research found in a 2009 study by the American Society for Horticultural Science supports this finding as well.
Plus, the presence of plants in your home can reduce stress and boost your mood.
3. Cover windows to keep heat out
Approximately 76% of sunlight that falls on standard windows enters the home as heat energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That means your A/C is going to have to work harder to cool your space, resulting in wasted energy and higher utility bills.
Save electricity this summer by installing darkening window treatments, like insulated cellular shades, window quilts, and roller shades, or hanging heavy curtains. If you already have blinds installed, keep them closed with the slats facing up to block out as much sunlight as possible.
Additionally, you can use LED or CFL light bulbs in your lamps and lighting fixtures to keep your home bright without wearing down your air conditioner.
4. Unplug chargers and cords that aren’t in use
Did you unplug your phone charger or coffee maker before you left for work this morning? If not, you could be wasting money on your next utility bill.
You’d be surprised how much energy — and money — goes to waste each year due to phantom power. Phantom power refers to the energy used by appliances connected into a power source even when those appliances are turned off.
Laptop and phone chargers, cable boxes, toaster ovens, and other household appliances are common causes of hidden energy costs. In fact, the average U.S. household spends more than $100 each year to power devices that are turned off.
While there are some devices you can’t just unplug, like your refrigerator or Internet modem, you can boost energy savings by unplugging smaller devices when they’re not in use, or by plugging those devices into a power strip that you turn off each morning.
Important note: Use power strips responsibly. Do not plug any heavy-duty appliances like refrigerators or generators into a power strip, and limit the number of devices plugged into a power strip at one time.
Read more: How Safe Are Power Strips?
5. Use the dishwasher — but be strategic
Surprisingly, using a dishwasher is actually more eco-friendly than hand washing dishes. Newer, energy-efficient dishwashers use approximately 3 gallons of water per cycle, while hand washing can use up to 27 gallons of water to clean the same amount of dishes.
You also don't need to worry about rinsing dishes before tossing them in the dishwasher — it’s unnecessary and wasteful. As long as you scrape most of the excess food bits into the trash, the dishwasher will be able to take care of the rest.
To conserve as much water as possible, be sure to maximize the space in your dishwasher to fit as many dishes as possible without overcrowding.
If you notice any issues with your dishwasher or kitchen plumbing while the appliance is running, call one of our Northern Virginia plumbers to identify the cause of the problem and make any necessary repairs.
Read more: Why does my sink fill up when I run my dishwasher?
6. Combine laundry loads
There are several simple changes you can implement in your laundry routine to conserve water and energy this summer.
By combining laundry loads between family members or waiting to run larger loads less frequently, you’re saving water and using your washing machine more efficiently. You can also save water by washing clothes on a smaller load setting and skipping the extra rinse cycle.
You can also increase energy savings by washing certain laundry loads in cold or lukewarm water instead of hot water. When your water heater has to turn cold water into hot water, it uses more energy, which can add to your electricity bill.
7. Use natural or homemade cleaning solutions
An important part of sustainable living is reducing or eliminating the use of harmful chemicals in your home, including cleaning supplies.
Cleaning is a necessary chore — it keeps your home pest-free and your family safe from bacteria and other allergens. However, many household cleaning products are hazardous not just to the environment, but also to your health.
By switching to “green” cleaning products or even making your own DIY cleaning solution from household items such as baking soda, vinegar, and dish soap, you reduce air and water pollution, and save money.
Live sustainably this summer.
Reduce your carbon footprint with an eco-friendly home. By maintaining your HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems, you cut back on energy and water waste, protecting the environment and saving you money in the long run.
Whether you need an HVAC technician to give your A/C a tune up or a plumber to repair a leaky pipe, CroppMetcalfe can help your home operate efficiently. Call us at 1-877-740-6657 or contact us online today to schedule an appointment with one of our talented five-star technicians.