Easy Green Home Improvements: A DIY Guide to Eco-Friendly Living

Green fever is sweeping the nation. More and more people are looking for ways to become more eco friendly. There are simple steps that you can take to create a healthier and more environmentally safe world, and the best place to start is at home. The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970 to raise awareness about environmental issues. It may have taken thirty years, but the green movement has finally become mainstream. With all the problems of global warming and toxic chemicals making us sick, we just couldn’t ignore the environment anymore. Lead by several consumer watch groups, such as the Environmental Working Group, the green movement is finally being taken seriously. Evidence of this lies in every hardware store across the nation. Now, it is easier than ever to go green. Here are my recommendations for the easiest do it yourself green home improvement projects.

Water is a precious resource that we pay little mind to. For most of us, it has always been available and we’ve never had to worry about water quality. With water shortages becoming more common, it’s time to reduce the amount of water we waste.

One easy home improvement project you can do yourself is to install WaterSense certified faucets in your kitchen and bathrooms. Faucets are given the EPA’s WaterSense seal of approval if they flow at 1.5 gallons per minute or less. Delta and Moen are just two of the manufacturers who offer this greener option. If you’re not in the market for new faucets, you can simply install a WaterSense certified aerator and flow regulator to your existing faucets for less than $10.

The average shower wastes huge amount of water, but this can be fixed by installing a low flow showerhead. This is a fairly easy green home improvement project that can cut your water use in half with no noticeable reduction in water pressure. Another easy option is to install a pressure compensating shower valve to your existing showerhead.

Installing a new toilet is a fairly easy green home improvement that will cut your water usage in half. Toilets that are more than ten years old typically use 5 gallons per flush. Newer, low flow models use about half that amount. You can also work with your existing toilet to lower the water usage by adjusting the float valve.

To save water outside, landscape your yard with native plants that are on the hardy, drought resistant side. You’ll use far less in watering them, as they can go for long periods with little water. To find out which plants are native to your area, speak with your local greenhouse staff.

Older appliances are often thought of as energy suckers, because they require so much more to run than newer Energy Star models. In our household, we are saving up to replace our appliances one by one until they are all Energy Star. If you are able to work new appliances into your budget, you are guaranteed to see the savings in your monthly energy bill. If new appliances aren’t an option, keep your existing ones running as efficiently as possible. By vacuuming your refrigerator coils and changing the filters on your air conditioner and furnace, you will get a noticeable increase in efficiency. Another easy and eco-friendly home improvement project is to insulate your water heater. You can purchase an insulating kit at your local hardware store for around $20.

Installing new windows is a big expense, but if you are planning on it, make you’re your new windows are double paned and energy efficient. If you’re only going to install a few windows at a time, start with the side of the house that gets the most direct sunlight and you’ll see the biggest bang for your buck as far as energy savings. Adding weather stripping to your doors and windows is another easy and eco-friendly home improvement project that will save on your heating and cooling bills, and is a lot less expensive than installing new windows.

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