Hey gang - many of you may already know about these life hacks but we found some very cool ideas in here and we added some of our own product favorites! Hope you enjoy!
There is so much to consider when you set up a home and care about the environment. Not only do you have to think about the environmental impact of the building, but also the impact of renovating an older home to make it more eco-friendly. Is the cost worth it? Is the impact on the environment worth it? Do enough products exist to make it worthwhile?
=> Benefits of Making Your Home as Eco-Friendly as Possible
Whether you have an older home or you're getting ready to build a new one, there are many benefits to making your home as eco-friendly as possible. Let's go over some of them, and then we'll get into more detail about how to make it happen and why.
You'll Leave a Smaller Carbon Footprint on Your Environment
One of the first things to consider is how you can make your carbon footprint smaller. Your carbon footprint is really the damage your existence causes to the environment. All of us damage it, even if we try not to. However, if you actively seek to make your home more eco-friendly, you can help make your carbon footprint much smaller.
You'll Save Water
When you do something as simple as install water-saving shower heads that reduce water use - yet make you seem like you have the best water pressure, you can save as much as one-third of the water you would normally use. This is not only good for the environment but also good for your bank account.
Your Environment Inside Will Be Healthier
When you seek to purchase and use eco-friendly products, you'll find out that they tend to pollute your environment less. They will be much less likely to off-gas and cause problems in your environment. Plus, a lot of the eco-friendly products have lower maintenance costs and your home will be safer due to having fewer throwaway products.
Increase Your Property Values
If you plan to resell, it's important to upgrade your house with the newest eco-friendly appliances, windows, toilets, shower heads and more. For example, an on-demand water heater saves tons of money, but itís also a selling point that you never run out of hot water. Most buyers will be looking for energy efficiency, and if you have it and the neighbor doesn't, your house will sell faster.
These are all good reasons to outfit your house with the newer eco-friendly technologies. You may have to put out some money to fix up your home or to build a new energy-efficient home, but in the end, itíll be worth it to you and to anyone who might want to buy your home in the future.
Let's look at some specific renewable energy options for your home that might help you.
=> Renewable Energy Options for Your Home
Whether you're contemplating going off the grid from electrical utilities or just trying to supplement your electrical supply to reduce your bill, you will likely be looking into either solar or renewable wind energy for your source of power.
Solar panels combined with batteries is the green renewable energy option for the home. Wind power is also possible while not yet as popular an option for individual consumers. A wind generator will require a homestead that is on enough land. But windmills can be reasonably priced.
The first thing most people think of when considering eco-friendly energy for their home is solar or wind. However, you may also have an option to use geothermal energy in your home. Using hot water and steam from underground to generate electricity is a safe way to do it. You can even add it to an existing home, but you may have to replace your furnace with a geothermal system.
Generate Electricity and Store It for Later
Recreational vehicle (RV) owners have been aware of the usefulness of solar storage systems for some time. Many of them are rapidly adding solar panels to their roofs so they may "boondock" for extended periods.
This means that they camp without plugging into any additional power, meaning that they can camp for much longer than they used to. These RVs have an advantage in that that their lighting systems may be a 12V DC system, which would allow the owners to power their lights without the need for using a power-robbing 110V inverter.
A Home Owner Has Options with Storage Capacity
Homeowners can use as large of a powerwall battery system as they are willing to pay for. Powerwall batteries come in all sizes and prices and are available from some manufacturers such as Goal Zero, AED Land, Schneider, Somerset, and Tesla.
One Size Doesn't Fit All
Some battery types were designed for short power outage situations. They will give you something like the service from a portable generator and will be relatively cheap, like the Goal Zero Yeti 1400. Others are intended for actual off the grid residential power service and as you would expect will cost considerably more.
These powerwalls are made up of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, with some using active cooling. The Tesla powerwalls costs $6,700, and installation will not be cheap; estimates range from $2000 to $8000.
Batteries and Panels are Getting Better
With ever-increasing improvements of battery storage and the sunlight to electrical current efficiency of today's solar panels, practical systems are being offered by several manufacturers. Some new concepts are still on the horizon, such as Tesla's solar roofing material that Elon Musk promised in 2016. If it ever does become available, it will revolutionize the market.
Today's Technology Does Pay Off
It may pay to keep checking on the progress of any advancements being promised. At the present time, solar panels combined with batteries are the favored green renewable option for the home.
With ever-increasing improvements of battery storage, and with the added sunlight to electrical current efficiency improvements of solar panels, practical systems are being offered today by several manufacturers.
You may wait for the promise of Tesla's solar roofing material to show up, but there are many products available today. Many people have already opted to install systems that are working for them and are proving to be cost-effective over the long run. Most people who opt to go ahead and do it today with today's technology are very happy they did.
One thing that helps conserve energy, whether you're using solar or not, is to purchase the greenest appliances that you can for your home. This will help cut down on the power drawn from the appliance, which will lower the need for more solar and is also a way to save money on solar.
=> Tips for Finding Green Appliances
Finding green appliances is a lot simpler today than it used to be. Most appliances these days carry the energy efficient seal even when they seem high-powered. In other words, you don't lose much by opting for the green appliances over the conventional ones.
Succeed with Renewable Energy Using Efficient Appliances and Lighting
One key in succeeding with renewable energy for the home is to use efficient appliances and lighting. The adage that time is money really does apply to energy costs. Energy is power (rate of doing work in units called a watt) multiplied by time, and is given in units called the watt-second or joule. Essentially, you are charged for the electricity you use by the watt-hour.
Find Appliances That Work Faster
Appliances that will cook food faster or cool a home quicker using less time, while using the same power consumption, are consuming less energy. Therefore, microwave ovens are considered energy efficient.
They may still require considerable power to operate, but usually the time required to heat food in a microwave is a fraction of the time needed for heating in a conventional oven. Then there is induction cooking, which is very efficient. About 90% of the heat generated reaches the food, whereas the standard stovetop loses heat to the surrounding air.
Check Appliances for Energy Star Certification
When it comes to conventional appliances, they can be Energy Star certified. It is a trusted symbol of efficiency. Energy efficiency is also rated from A to G, with A being the best-rated efficiency. Yearly costs to run the appliance can be shown too, which will help you make not only power-using decisions but also money-saving ones.
Insulation Counts When It Comes to Refrigerators and Ovens
Buy a self-cleaning oven because it will have extra insulation which is needed for the high temperatures required for cleaning. The better-insulated oven loses less heat to its surroundings and bakes more evenly than the other kind.
Refrigeration pumps cycle fewer times for a refrigerator with better-insulated walls. Even dishwashers benefit from added insulation, beyond just better noise reduction. It also keeps hot water hot throughout the cleaning cycle. All these kitchen appliances can be comparatively shopped by judging from their energy rating or posted yearly operating cost.
Clean Greener Today with New Products
Vacuum cleaners are big energy consumers. A vacuum cleaner, on average, can draw as much power as a room air conditioner. Many will tout their current draw as if it were some indication of cleaning power, but all it really means is that it draws more electrical current, and may not even work better.
More current times the voltage from your outlet, equals more wattage used to run. What you really should look for instead is something that you can either readily or easily use and will get the job done without drawing so much electricity. Don't be swayed by a sticker showing a higher current draw. Test the effectiveness of the product instead.
Save on Water and Power with the New Appliances for the Laundry Room
Washers in recent years use detergent marked HE for high efficiency. They create fewer suds and use less water to help become greener for the environment. This also reduces costs, which goes hand in hand with the less power needed to clean, so you will benefit from two reduced utility bills.
Remember, if you want to buy more energy-efficient appliances for the home, look for the Energy Star certification, test products for effectiveness instead of being fooled by energy draw, and realize you donít have to buy the most expensive product to save energy and money too.
=> Getting Inspiration from Zero-Carbon Homes
There are so many shows and articles today about zero-carbon homes that you can't help but get some inspiration. Is it a reality or just something to look forward to for the future? When you see all the options out there, it is exciting. While you may not be able to build a zero-carbon home right now, there are lots of ideas you can get from looking at and getting inspiration from zero-carbon homes.
What Is a Zero-Carbon Home?
Is there such a thing as a zero-carbon home? Well, not really. The term zero-carbon is being used interchangeably with zero-energy housing, and is basically describing very energy-efficient houses. They will not be known as having absolute zero carbon emission, but rather they're known as a net-zero or having a neutral impact on carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
More Than Just an "Eco" Home
Zero-carbon homes contribute much less carbon than a standard efficient "eco" house. An off-the-grid home demands that it be very energy efficient to run lighting and appliances on a continuous basis. For an off-grid house to be more than just an eco-home and warrant the net-zero house moniker, it must deal with the carbon it does emit so as not to impact the atmosphere.
Only the emissions from climate control, ventilation, and lighting while the house is occupied are counted toward the net-zero standard. Human activity with cooking and plug-in appliances are excluded so that the standard can be focused exclusively to the quality of the house.
Relative to an Off-the-Grid Home
Some people set out to construct an off-the-grid house to save money on utilities, but some houses are desired in places where there may not be available power or water from a utility company, so there may be no choice but to put in the additional hardware to run the home.
A net-zero home will always incorporate energy efficiency and have some sort of passive solar system. While renewable energy from solar and wind go together when attempting to go off the grid and reduce carbon, not all net-zero homes are defined as requiring it.
A Great Starting Point
A net-zero house is a great starting point if working towards an off-the-grid home. With the net-zero passive solar features, you already have a head start in succeeding with off-the-grid abilities.
The renewable energy additions can supplement more power to run the devices the owners will be using, thereby actually helping offset any extra carbon produced. This always reduces inherent costs of the running of the household - and who doesn't want to save money?
New Laws Requiring Net-Zero
Years ago, some countries made laws requiring all newly built homes to be zero-carbon by today to combat climate change. The UK is one of them. Worldwide, 19 mayors have made pledges to have all buildings by 2030 to be net-zero, which means that they can consume no more energy than they produce.
In the US, California requires all new homes to have solar panels. So, depending on where you live, if you plan on building your own home, you may have to check for whether you need to use net-zero compliance. The style of house you buy or build can vary, so there is at least a range of styles suitable to your choosing.
Using net-zero compliance guidelines to create an energy-efficient home for yourself is a good beginning. Even if you don't achieve total parity right away, as more products come out that work great you will get closer to reality. In some areas, you can even sell energy back to the electric company if you produce more than you use. This can be a money-making prospect too, depending upon where you live.
If you're trying to be as energy-efficient as possible in your home, there are a few green gadgets that you can't do without. These will help you save money around the home and outside the home too.
=> Green Gadgets You Won't Want to Do Without
There are numerous green gadgets that you can use around your home and outside your home to save money and energy. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, look at some of these green gadgets you won't want to do without.
The Instant Pot
This is a wonderful electric pressure cooker. It's designed to be safer than stovetop pressure cookers but works just as well. It also uses a lot less energy than your stove. It won't heat up the room, and it does its job super-fast, which means it uses much less energy. Using these pots in the summertime is very popular due to how little heat comes out of them while cooking. This one is our favorite. It's the perfect size and price! Check it out
Soladey J3X Toothbrush
Seems strange that a toothbrush needs to be energy efficient, but Soladey do have one. This one powers up with light. Since it uses ions to clean, you don't even need to buy toothpaste anymore. That's a money saver and a time saver too. Our top pick: Soladey-3 Ionic SOLAR Toothbrush!
Low Water Flow Toilet
One way to save money is to install a water-saving toilet. You'll save money on water because you use less. Toilets are a big water user and in most households, it's the highest water usage you have. Therefore, a water-saving toilet will really make a huge impact on your water usage and water bill.
Get a Compost Bin
Everyone needs a compost bin. What kind you buy depends on where you live and your situation. Even if you don't personally need the soil that you create, you can give it away, or you can donate it to someone to use. You can also pour it into planters anywhere, and people will be happy you did. Of course, here's our favorite!
Install a Solar Hot Water Heater
Even if you cannot afford everything to be solar, you can afford to install a solar hot water heater. It works a lot like most water heaters, but it can save you 50 to 80 percent on water heating bills, and today they work great.
Get a Back-Yard Wind Turbine
Assuming you live in an area where you can do it, installing a backyard wind turbine is a great way to make your home greener. You can use the wind to power most of if not all of your home. You only need wind speeds of at least 5 mph to generate enough electricity. This little guy is a great start.
A Dual Flush Toilet
You've heard the saying, "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down." With the dual flush toilet, you don't have to do that. It uses less water for the yellow stuff than the brown stuff, making it much more economical and environmentally friendly. Plus, you can also get a low water dual flush toilet.
Smart Power Strips
Did you know that when you keep everything plugged into the wall all the time, it uses more energy? Even if you turn the appliance off, it's still using some energy when plugged in. If you use a smart power strip, though, it has a standby mode which it will go into automatically when the appliance is in the off position. The only other way to save this much power is to unplug your appliances after use, every time. This one works with both Alexa and Google Home.
A Programmable Thermostat
One problem with heating and cooling is having to turn the heat or air up or down manually to control the atmosphere. With a programmable thermostat, you can avoid these problems by setting it up to make the temperature constant throughout the day depending on the time of day. This will save a lot of money and make you all more comfortable at home. Lots of options here.
Small Solar Trees Can Go with You to the Beach
What could possibly be greener than something called a solar tree? Solar trees encompass a wide variety of arrangements of solar panels used to power a few things. One small solar tree is designed to be portable with its "trunk" capable of being jabbed into the soft ground like at the beach. The tree is then used to power or charge devices like your cell phone.
Large Solar Trees Save Space
The concept behind larger solar trees is that the solar panels are at different levels above and below each other, allowing more panels to exist in a confined area. Claims are made that a solar tree that occupies four square meters of space can produce the same energy that otherwise would have required four hundred square meters. Florida Power & Light are beginning to place trees around south Florida in parks to provide charging services for devices.
Eliminate Plastic Waste and Bring Your Own Shopping Bag
Some stores are now charging for bags for your groceries. Aldi's Grocery, for example, expects you to bring your own bags. They also sell cloth bags that are very rugged and can be reused many times. These are washable; just throw them in the clothes washer if you wish. Using the cloth bags will cut down tremendously on plastic waste, so much of which winds up in our oceans. It's best to store these bags in your car, so they're always available.
Conserve Water and Electricity with an Efficient Shower Head
Conserving water starts by using shower heads designed for high efficiency. One brand called Smart Shower claims not only to save water but also energy, since hot water is conserved while still producing a powerful spray with less water pressure. They offer a small variety of shower heads in a range of prices, starting from just under eight dollars.
Use Nature to Control Garden Pests
Garden pest control can be done in a "fight fire with fire" type of approach. At a website called Greenhome.com, you can purchase bugs to get rid of the other bugs you don't want. Some don't come cheap, but you're not putting pesticides in the nearby environment of your yard. They offer flower bugs for thrips control, for example, which sells for about 95 dollars for 500 adult bugs.
There is a spider mite control using predators that sells for just under 25 dollars. The cheapest is near 18 dollars for nematodes that control soil pests. Using these green methods may help the bee population too, since itís speculated that pesticide use is the culprit causing their diminished numbers.
How About a Light?
How many times have you been caught empty-handed because your flashlight batteries were dead? Well, hybrid solar flashlights and lanterns are very reasonably priced and can be useful for camping and around the house during power outages - or all the time if you wish.
Their batteries are charged with solar cells, so you must have them exposed to bright sunlight for hours to ensure they will be ready for use. The lantern displayed on Greenhome.com claims to run for eight hours on a full charge, and the lantern is similar in style to the original Coleman lantern. Coleman does sell a hybrid solar lantern of their own, and that also has good reviews.
=> Green Lighting for Your Home
There is no excuse not to have green lighting in your home. Although incandescent lighting products are initially cheaper to purchase, they will cost you more to use and will have to be replaced at a much higher rate than their LED equivalents.
LED Lights and Others
LED bulbs are becoming the norm since their prices are coming down and they are among the most energy efficient. They will require on average one-tenth the power to run than an incandescent bulb.
Florescent tubes and bulbs can be even more efficient than LED, although only initially while they are still new. They will degrade faster and suffer from energy loss over time. Also, fluorescent lights will need replacing more often.
Since fluorescent lighting may contain harmful materials such as mercury while the LED type only has minute amounts of "doped silicon" in the actual part of the light that emits photons, handling and installing LED lighting is a safer proposition.
When you consider that the mercury in fluorescent bulbs and tubes is encased in glass that can and often will shatter when dropped, it has to make them less desirable than the durable solid construction of the LED variety.
Another advantage besides their reliability is the considerably less heat put out by LED lights. During summer months you won't have to have your AC system fighting against the heat generated inside by hot lights.
This is especially apparent if you've ever tried to remove or touch an incandescent light that had been on for an hour. In contrast, LED lights will still feel cool to the touch. Today's LED lights are available in several colors and levels of temperature, with 2700K warm, 3000K clean white and 4000K natural white being typical.
At their inception, some products manufactured in China had issues with their LED lights longevity. LED bulbs were touted to last for years or even decades, but many people were finding that was not the case. This was especially frustrating when the prices were much higher than the incandescent bulbs.
Some of these problems were in part due to the bulb's fixture circuitry components (used in directing the required voltage and current) being needed by the LED bulb's diode. Any failure in the voltage regulating control can cause a light to flash repetitively or go out, even if the actual component that produces light may still be good.
Over time, those early failing bulbs seem to have run their course and have not been seen for a while. LED lights usually come with a 5-year warranty, but you may have to be willing to save receipts or boxes to be able to use it.
Finding eco-friendly lighting today is not a problem, though. The LED bulbs prices have dropped, and they do last a good long time. Not to mention that you can find any type of brightness that you want and need. Whether you need something that works with photography or just regular home lighting, it is there.
Finding eco-friendly technologies for your home is not just good for the environment and your wallet, it's also fun. Who doesn't like the idea of installing solar panels? Who doesn't love having a better running oven, dishwasher or clothes washer that is quiet and saves energy? Most people will jump at the chance if you can show that it also saves money.
=> Getting Started Being Greener at Home with the New Eco-Friendly Technology
Now that you've read about several new technologies that you can incorporate into your home, let's finish off by looking at some simple things you can do right now to save energy and be greener.
Set Your Thermostat Lower in Winter and Higher in Summer
Have you ever gone to someone's house that is hot as heck in the winter but freezing in the summer? That's a wasteful use of energy right there. To avoid this problem if you cannot afford to buy a new thermostat right now, consider setting your temps higher in summer and lower in winter to save money and energy.
Unplug Appliances When Not Using Them
As mentioned earlier, your appliances when plugged in will use power. You can save a lot of money by unplugging them. If you cannot afford to buy one of the smart power strips that put your appliances in standby mode, this is a good choice to save money and energy right now.
Hang Your Clothes to Dry Them
Depending on where you live, you can dry most of your clothes outside to save money. Not only will it save on drying, but it will also save your clothing. Drying them outside disinfects them more than you may think due to the sunshine on them. Plus, your sheets will smell wonderful.
Wash Clothing in Cold Only
Believe it or not, your clothing and even your towels will come clean in cold water. Using cold water most of the time will save a lot of money. Your water heater uses 85 percent of the power used when doing laundry, so it's quite a big difference.
You can save tons of energy by walking more. Walk or ride your bike to work when you can, and you'll reduce your energy usage plus get healthier in the process. What could be better than that?
When you think about it, using less energy is about more than the environment or saving money. It's about using the best practices available to do the job that needs to be done. Often, that's using the energy-efficient way to do it. Today's technologies work very well, and you won't even notice that you're saving energy until you get the bills.
What is the first thing you're going to incorporate into your life now that you know about the new eco-friendly technologies that you can consider for your home? Get cracking!