40 Expert Tips for an Environmentally Friendly Home

Want to make your home greener? Solar power is a great choice, but it’s not the only step you can take to make your home environmentally friendly. These 40 expert tips highlight many of the small ways you can make a big difference in the environment with your home.

Green Building and Renovations

Building or updating your home? Take these green considerations into account.

  1. Choose a smart location to build your home: Avoid environmentally sensitive locations such as flood zones or endangered wildlife habitats, check proximity to public transportation, and consider using a greyfield site. (International Code Council)
  2. Use reclaimed materials: Reclaimed wood including counter tops, paneling, and flooring can save you money while saving the environment. It may even have more character and attractiveness than new materials. (Freshome)
  3. Don’t waste paint: Dispose of paint safely at hazardous waste disposal sites, donate, or reuse leftover paint. (EarthShare)
  4. Choose paint carefully: Use water based acrylic latex paints instead of solvent based paints. They are more environmentally friendly. (CertaPro Painters)
  5. Install a low flow toilet: Replace your old toilet with a low flow model to save water. Or, convert your current toilet with a dual flush converter. (Inhabitat)
  6. Update your thermostat: A learning thermostat such as the Nest can adjust to your living patterns for more efficient operation. It can also be controlled with a phone, so it’s easy to change the temperature even when you’re away. (Drew and Jonathan Scott)
  7. Choose environmentally friendly flooring: Look for sustainable wood floor certified by the Forest Stewardship Council made by local manufacturers. It’s also smart to ask for low VOC finishes and materials that do not require glue. (The Sexy Green Home)
  8. Update light bulbs: When old bulbs burn out, replace them with Energy Star approved compact fluorescent bulbs. (Ty Pennington)
  9. Update with green windows: New windows can provide up to 50 percent better energy performance. Coatings and glazes can significantly improve insulation and efficiency. And even though they may be more expensive initially, environmentally friendly windows can add up to excellent utility savings. (Custom Home Group)
  10. Upgrade insulation: Homes lacking in insulation can get a major upgrade by getting brought up to current standards. This is a quick energy payback project that can save you between 10 to 50 percent on heating and cooling bills. (Zillow)
  11. Replace appliances with energy efficient models: Update older home appliances with energy efficient models, particularly those with the Energy Star label. (The Art of Simple)

Environmentally Friendly Cleaning

Make your home truly clean by banishing toxic cleaning products and reducing your energy usage.

  1. Don’t wash clean clothes: If clothes don’t stink, don’t wash them. You can save a load a week and about 40 gallons of water. When you do wash, be sure to put in full loads in cold water. (Caln Township)
  2. Remove toxic products: Toxic products can poison you and your family. Replace them with non toxic biodegradable substitutes such as those made with kitchen cupboard ingredients. (Care2)
  3. Improve indoor air quality: With excellent insulation, homes often retain toxic materials and substances, making the air inside homes more toxic than that outside. Replace air filters regularly and open windows as often as possible to allow fresh air in and help toxins flow out, particularly when cleaning your home. (Treehugger)
  4. Switch to a safer detergent: Artificial fragrances and surfacants can be toxic to your health and waterways and should be avoided. Look for eco friendly laundry detergents that don’t use polluting ingredients and may be biodegradable. (Mother Nature Network)
  5. Clean refrigerator coils: Dust, hair, and other gunk that accumulates on your refrigerator coils can seriously impede its efficiency and increase energy use. It can also damage your refrigerator over time. Clean them out by vacuuming out dust and wiping them with a damp cloth. (SheKnows)
  6. Pledge a tree free home: Replace paper items with reusable ones, such as cloth napkins instead of paper napkins and cloth towels instead of paper towels. Purchase toilet paper made from a high amount of post consumer waste, and reuse paper scraps such as envelopes, wrapping paper, and notepads as much as possible. (Global Stewards)

Eco Friendly Home Decor

Make your home green and beautiful with these eco friendly home decor tips.

  1. Find a new purpose for old furnishings: Reuse old items creatively, such as using glass jars and bottles for vases or kitchen and collectibles storage. (Gaiam)
  2. Check out roadside finds a thrift stores: Look for unwanted goods left on curbs including furniture, old shutters, and windows. Or check out thrift stores for vintage curtains or home accents. (Earth 911)
  3. Look for thick curtains: Conserve energy with thick curtains that can block out more light when you’re trying to keep your house cool. (George Clarke)
  4. Donate old, unwanted decor items: Instead of sending your old couch or lamp off to the landfill, drop it off at a resale shop where it can be put to good use. (Gaiam)
  5. Grow plants indoors: Live plants can act as natural air filters and absorb harmful pollutants, cleaning your indoor air. Look for plants that tend to do well indoors such as ferns, rubber plants, and palm trees. (WebMD)
  6. Decorate with natural fibers: Look for bedding, drapes, slipcovers, and other linens in natural organic fibers. Popular materials include cotton, linen, and bamboo. (Gaiam)

Earth Friendly Cooking

Ensure that your food is healthy, clean, and environmentally friendly with these tips.

  1. Reduce waste in packaging: Buy bulk goods to reduce packaging materials and look for items with recyclable packaging. (The Greenists)
  2. Shop locally: Shop for locally grown produce and meats to reduce fuel waste and emissions. You’ll also enjoy fresher food. (Food Network)
  3. Avoid nonstick cookware: Overheating nonstick cookware can release toxic fumes. Replace nonstick cookware with stainless steel, cast iron, or glass instead. (Environmental Working Group)
  4. Use an outdoor grill whenever possible: Whenever you can, use your outdoor grill to cook. You’ll save on using air conditioning to keep your house cool, since an outdoor grill doesn’t heat up your kitchen. (The Greenists)
  5. Reduce food waste: Plan your food to reduce food waste, put leftovers front and center in the fridge where they’ll be noticed, and make use of your freezer to save food that might otherwise spoil. (Pop Sugar)
  6. Compost kitchen scraps: Separate and compost kitchen scraps to reduce the amount of waste your household sends to the landfill. You can also create an excellent resource for gardening with compost. (Huffington Post)
  7. Bring your own bag: Bring a reusable tote bag or canvas produce sack instead of using your supermarket’s plastic bags. (Food Network)
  8. Practice batch cooking: Whenever possible, bake several dishes at once, or double up on recipes to make more of the same dish at the same time. This will save on energy, and can save you time if you’re able to freeze and reheat the extras. (The Greenists)

Green Gardening and Landscaping

Green your great outdoors by using native plants, saving water, and making strategic landscaping choices.

  1. Use native plants: With native plants, you’ll use less water, need less maintenance and chemical use, and avoid introducing invasive species that can choke out naturally existing landscaping. (Penn State Extension)
  2. Reduce lawn areas: Grass lawns require chemicals and frequent maintenance, so reducing your green grass area can be environmentally friendly. Replace your lawn with native wildflowers, shrubs, or other landscaping to reduce labor, chemicals, and offer habitats for wildlife. (National Wildlife Federation)
  3. Conserve water: Use grey water or rainwater to water your lawn. Consider alternative water such as rainwater from a rain barrel. (Environmental Protection Agency)
  4. Go evergreen: Plant evergreen trees to create a natural windbreak that can reduce chilly winds that can hit your home during the winter. (Jetson Green)
  5. Plant more trees: Trees clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. A strategically placed tree can also provide shade and lower air conditioning use. (New York Botanical Garden)

Environmentally Friendly Home Habits

Follow these tips to make every day at home more earth friendly.

  1. Turn everything off before bed: When you go to bed, make sure all devices are turned off and unplugged. Make it easy by plugging them into a power strip, then turn off the entire power strip when you’re done. (Good Housekeeping)
  2. Turn off lights you’re not using: Any time you leave a room, turn off the light. Walk around your house to turn off lights and talk to family members about their electricity use. (Biofriendly)
  3. Ban smoking at home: Don’t let anyone smoke in your home. Smoking introduces toxic chemicals into your home, which is like inviting a diesel bus into your living room. (WebMD)
  4. Avoid letting water run: Shorten the length of your shower, don’t leave water running when you brush your teeth, and thaw frozen meat in a bowl of water rather than letting water run over it in the sink. (U.S. News)

Photo by Flickr user 82955120@N05