Embracing an environmentally-friendly lifestyle offers many benefits that can save you money.  Going green can reduce your carbon footprint, reduce your energy bills and help save the planet.

What is Sustainable Living?

Sustainable living is the practice of reducing your demand on natural resources by making sure that you replace what you use to the best of your ability. Sometimes that can mean not choosing to consume a product that is made using practices that don’t promote sustainability, and sometimes it means changing how you do things so that you start becoming more of an active part of the cycle of life.

Here are our top tips for sustainable living on a budget when investing in a greener home.

Take a look at where energy is used most in a home. The largest portion of your energy is generally used for cooling or heating your home, approximately 60 percent. An average of 15 percent of energy is used in heating water; 13 percent in running refrigerators; 12 percent is used on everything else (such as TVs, lights, washer, dryer, cooking).

Reduce

  • Turn off lights when you leave a room.
  • Unplug device when not in use: Most of the electronic devices keep on drawing electricity even when they’re off. To reduce energy usage, simply pull the plug when not in use. It will help you to save energy and reduce your monthly electricity bill.
  • Save water by practicing taking shorter showers, washing dishes in a sink of water and then rinsing them and cutting down on the amount of laundry that you do.
  • Heating water requires energy; wash clothes on the cold setting, and only wash when you have a full load.
  • Ditch the dryer; invest in a drying rack or clothesline to save both electricity and money.
  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter.  Keep the fan on “auto” instead of “on”. Use a fireplace in the winter; in the spring and fall, open windows, air out the house and turn the thermostat “off”. (Replacing older thermostat with a programmable one can significantly add to your savings). When away from home, either for work or on vacation, go a little higher in the summer and lower in the winter to see additional savings.
  • In the summer close blinds and drapes to help keep your home cool and open them in the winter to let more sun in to help heat your home. Keep doors and windows closed while the air conditioner is running.
  • Use ceiling fans, this keeps the air circulating making it easier to heat and cool.
  • Use your oven less and the microwave more, it uses less energy and does not heat up the kitchen.

Reuse

Thrifting and shopping vintage marketplaces is the “in” thing to do.  Reusable eco-friendly materials like bamboo, cork and reclaimed lumber are not only appealing décor in your home, but also more easily replenished natural resources.

In addition to the home décor, think of other ways to reuse items in your home by using things like sponges or rags instead of paper towels, reusable razors instead of disposable shavers, washable plates instead of paper and the like.

Replace

  • Light bulbs; by changing the lighting in your home from traditional light bulbs to CFL, using skylights and more natural light you will reduce your demand on energy resources significantly.
  • Appliances; when it’s time to replace your appliances look for the Energy Star label.
  • Windows can be drafty; replace old single-pane windows with double-pane insulated Energy Star windows.

There are so many places that making a small change can make a huge difference.

Always Recycle

Recycling has been on the rise over the past few decades, which is great news. The bad news is that a lot of things that could be recycled are instead being thrown out. According to the National Environment Agency, only 20 percent of glass is recycled while the rest is trashed, and only nine percent of plastics is disposed of properly.

If you want to challenge yourself, ditch the plastic altogether!  Plastic never goes away. It takes millions of years for plastic to decompose. Plastic can be found swirling in the ocean’s surfaces. It badly affects marine life.

Environmentally responsible homes are critical for communities everywhere. With a little research, time and effort, you can live a greener and more efficient life.