When deciding how to make your home more environmentally sustainable, there are a few key steps you can take to get started.
An important first step is to sign up for an energy audit through your utility company or another local provider to get a clearer picture of your home’s energy consumption levels. This will enable owners you to assess which changes may have the biggest impact. The most common areas targeted for energy improvements: furnaces and other heating systems, cooling systems, windows, and doors. If replacing every window in a home is not in your budget, Rick Thompson, managing partner of Bright Leaf Homes in Hinsdale, Il., advises air-sealing windows that have the greatest energy leakage. The energy audit can determine which windows to prioritize. Thompson’s custom home building company follows Zero Energy Ready’s certification checklist when designing and building sustainable homes.
Another great energy saver is installing smart lighting and HVAC systems. Voice platforms, like Alexa on the Amazon Echo, can be connected to lights and controlled easily on a cell phone or through a timer. Programmable or smart thermostats are other methods for reducing energy consumption.
Use green cleaning products. To promote healthy indoor air as you clean, use all-natural sprays and wipes. Hartnett recommends Mrs. Meyer’s brand. They eliminate the risk you’ll breathe in toxic chemicals in your home.
Set up a diffuser. A constant stream of essential oils flowing through the house also enhances air quality. The doTERRA brand is considered to have high-quality oils.
Use low- to zero-VOC paints. When it’s time for a room refresh, use paints with no volatile organic compounds.
When looking into the more expensive changes, don't forget to consider the cost savings you will enjoy in the future as each of these changes will lower your monthly bills as well. Not to mention that many of these changes will increase the value of your home. We can all do even a small part to help keep our world and homes beautiful well into the future.