What Is A Green Home? Why Is It Important?
When you think about it, we spend a lot of time indoors. In fact, most of us spend up to 90% of our time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Now if someone asked you which was healthier, indoor air or outdoor air, you might be tempted to say indoor air. After all, outdoor air is often polluted with exhaust, smoke, chemicals, and other things.
But the truth is that our indoor air is almost always more polluted than the outdoor air. How much more polluted? Well, the EPA says that indoor air can be hundreds of times more polluted than the outdoor air, even in the most industrialized cities.
This is why taking steps towards having a greener home is so important. By making your home more natural and eco-friendly, you take out a huge chunk of the things that cause indoor air pollution. Your family is safer, your home is cleaner, and much of the time, you save money in the process.
Green homes are also much easier on the environment. By using less water and energy, you’re reducing the size of your footprint on the earth.
So, let’s take a look at what a “green home” actually is, and how you and your family can benefit from living in one!
Green Home 101
The U.S. Green Building Council defines a green home as one that uses less energy, water, and natural resources to function, creates less waste, and is healthier for the people living inside.
And don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to sell your current home and build a LEED-certified masterpiece. Most of the time, even the smallest efforts can produce the biggest results.
Greening Your Home
You can use the following easy tips to start making your home a bit greener today.
Stop using harsh, commercial cleaning products. These products often contain dangerous chemicals that add significantly to indoor air pollution. Many of these toxic chemicals have also been found to cause miscarriage, asthma, and other reproductive harm. Women and children (who spend the most time in the home), are particularly at risk from these chemicals.
Instead, use natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda, or plant based cleaners like those from Seventh Generation.
Stop using air fresheners. Air fresheners may contain carcinogens, as well as containing chemicals that cause reproductive and respiratory damage. They also contain fragrances, which can cause asthma, watery eyes, and skin irritation. Instead of artificial air fragrances, why not scent your home naturally by burning soy candles or simmering a pot of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, orange peel, and vanilla in water?
Don’t purchase compressed wood products. Most compressed wood products (like IKEA furniture or kitchen cabinets) contain formaldehyde. The EPA says that formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in animals, and may cause cancer in humans. Formaldehyde also causes fatigue, watery eyes, and other allergic reactions.
Use a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats can save you 20-30% on your heating bill simply by turning down the heat while you’re at work and at night, and turning it back up when you’re awake and active in the home.
Set the thermostat lower. For every degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, you’re going to save 3-5% on your heating bill. The means your home is using less energy, which means less CO2 is put out into the atmosphere.
Put an aerator on all faucets. Aerators will help cut your water use in sinks by 50%. And, you’ll barely notice the decrease in flow.
Use low VOC paint. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, and these unhealthy chemicals are found in regular paint (among other things). Using low VOC paint means that you and your family won’t have to breath in those toxic fumes when you’re ready for a new color.
Reduce your consumption. Here in America, every single person produces an average of 4 pounds of garbage per day. That’s a staggering amount of trash. Although this tip doesn’t tie in directly with having a green home, it does apply to living a greener lifestyle. Consuming less means that you’re using fewer resources, and producing less waste. Buy used whenever you can, or borrow from someone else. When you do have trash, recycle everything you can! It really does add up.
Switch to CFL bulbs. CFL bulbs use 66% less energy than regular bulbs. Plus, they last 10 times longer. It’s estimated that every CFL bulb will save $30 in energy costs over its lifetime.
As you can see, you don’t have to install solar panels or drive a hybrid to live a greener life. Most of the time, the smallest steps can make the biggest difference. Making simple changes to your home and your routine can have a major impact on the environment. Especially once we’re all doing it!