The standard Earth Day advice on what individuals can do to help save the earth can be summed up in three words: reduce, reuse, recycle. When it comes to your home, there are a number of options – some of which can make a significant difference for both the environment and your wallet. While not all of the improvements are inexpensive, some of the more significant ones, such as adding solar panels, may be eligible for tax refunds and other financial incentives from local and federal governments. The Department of Energy has more information on the potential advantages.
Here are five modifications you may make to your home to help the environment:
1. Think of a nice roof.
Making your roof white can help you save money and reduce emissions, especially if you live in a city. Daytime temperatures might be reduced by an average of 0.6 degrees Celsius if every roof in every major city around the world was white, according to Yale Environment 360. In warmer climates, the impact would be substantially larger. White roofs in the United States might reduce temperatures by 1.8 degrees Celsius in Washington, D.C., and up to 1.5 degrees Celsius in Los Angeles.
According to NASA, by 2100, the Earth will be 2.5 degrees Celsius to 4.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit to 8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer. World leaders, on the other hand, are striving to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which scientists believe will prevent the worst effects of climate change.
What role do cool roofs play? According to the Department of Energy, a white coating reflects up to 60-90 percent of sunlight. According to Yale Environment 360, asphalt reflects only 4% of light while meadows reflect 25%.
According to Yale Environment 360, if everyone on the earth built a white roof, global warming would be slowed by 11 years. Although this figure is insignificant in the overall scheme of things, cool roofs have the potential to lower the number of people who die each year from heat-related illnesses, especially in urban areas.
Plants are another technique to produce a cool roof. The Energy Department describes this option as “excellent for urban structures with low-sloped or shallow-pit roofs, and can incorporate anything from basic plant cover (extensive vegetative roof) to a garden, or even tiny trees (intense vegetative roof).” The water evaporating from the roof plants keeps the house cool, while the soil layer insulates it. Green roofs, on the other hand, are more expensive, more difficult to maintain, and more heavier than other cool roof solutions.
Consider a cool choice if you’re ready to replace your roof. If your roof is still in good repair, consider putting a white roof coating that will reflect the sun’s rays – New York City even offers a program that will coat qualifying rooftops for free or at a modest fee. A list of certified alternatives can be found on EnergyStar.gov.
2. Get rid of your grassy yard.
Climate change can be influenced by your yard, no matter how big or tiny it is. Although well-kept grass lawns have long been the norm in most American homes, experts believe that a lawn that more closely reflects its natural surroundings may be better for the environment’s health as well as your budget.
The issue: Chemicals used to keep a “perfect” grass lawn are harmful to the environment. Certain fertilizers and pesticides can harm ecosystems and sicken the creatures that dwell there, and these chemicals can spread to other animals and ecosystems through runoff water. According to Princeton University scientists, mowing your lawn or altering its irrigation system can reduce some of your grass’s environmental benefits. In addition, when combined, gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers can generate considerable volumes of CO2.
What is the solution? In short, Princeton researchers and other experts in the field advise that you leave your grass alone. This involves restoring more native plants to the area, incorporating grass alternatives such as mulch and gravel, and “letting the lawn to its own devices” – which means less lawn maintenance.
While most towns in the United States have rules about how much your grass can grow, they may be more lenient than you believe. To find out what those regulations are, go to the local government’s resource pages. Other cities, meanwhile, are lobbying for changes in municipal legislation. According to the nonprofit organization NRDC, Montgomery County, Maryland, changed its laws to allow for more natural lawn growth.
Several local governments in the United States even provide citizens with incentives to get rid of their all-grass lawns. According to The Denver Post, the government in Colorado gave reimbursements to residents in specific municipalities who modified their landscaping. What is the explanation for this? The state was suffering from a severe drought, and much too much water was being squandered on lawn care. Similar incentives are available in a number of other western states, including California, Nevada, and Utah.
3. Purchase used furnishings
According to figures from the Environmental Protection Agency, almost 12.5 million tons of furniture and furnishings are destroyed in the United States each year, up from around 2.5 million tons in 1960. The majority of that garbage is transferred to landfills, despite the fact that around a fifth of it is combusted with energy recovery. Other home products, such as rugs and carpets, showed similar patterns, according to the EPA.
What is the solution? Take your old living room rug or headboard to a local thrift store instead of throwing it away. If you’re in the market for new furniture, look into preowned possibilities before going out and buying anything new. Thrifting is already popular among millennials, especially for apparel and accessories, because it is less expensive and environmentally friendly. Not only will you save waste, but you’ll also cut costs associated with new product development, such as water, power, and chemicals.
4. Set up solar panels.
Every household on the earth produces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which have an impact on the quality of our water and air, as well as contributing to climate change.
What can you do to lessen your impact? One alternative, and a good one, is to install solar panels on your home. Solar panels can lower your electricity bills, reduce pollution, and even increase the market value of your home, according to the Energy Department, which has a complete guide on how to go solar on its website.
Solar panels are simple to install and use in most homes. The amount of energy they create, how much they cost, and how much money they save will vary depending on where they are installed. Solar panels, on the other hand, are eligible for a variety of government incentives, including state and local programs. Visit the Department of Energy’s website for further information.
5. Make use of curtains
Installing and using curtains, shades, blinds, screens, awnings, draperies, and shutters in your home is a simple and effective approach to improve your home’s energy efficiency, similar to painting your roof white.
In the summer, having the drapes drawn can help keep the sunlight — and the heat from outside — out. As a result, you’ll require less air conditioning and use it less. In the winter, they’re also a wonderful way to keep warm air contained: According to the Department of Energy, curtains can prevent heat loss in a home by up to 40%.
According to the Department of Energy, around 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows. Curtains can help you save money and minimize waste, though the amount you save will vary depending on the type of curtains you use, the season, and the climate, according to the Energy Department.
Insulated cellular shades, which normally fold up like an accordion at the top of the window, are the most effective type of window covering, according to the department. More information about different types of curtains can be found at the Department of Energy.