8 Ideas to Make Your Home and Property Eco-Friendly
When people think about green homes, their minds often jump to appliances and insulation. While those are doubtless integral parts of creating an eco-friendly home, the home itself is just the beginning. In fact, there are lots of ways you can “green-ify” your property in addition to the structure on it, and to help you get started with your greenovation, we’ve come up with a list of 8 ways to go environmentally friendly both outside and in.
Having a gorgeous garden doesn’t have to mean a huge water bill. In fact, there are lots of ways to create a beautiful landscape that requires minimal water and even improves the environmental health of the area:
- Use native and/or drought-tolerant plants – Plants that are native to the area generally require less care, including less water. Ask your local garden center which suit your area, and when you’re shopping for plants, look for ones that are drought tolerant or prefer dry soil so you won’t have to water as often.
- Use drip irrigation – Traditional sprinkler systems are notoriously inefficient, and not just because they end up spraying the fence half the time. Much of the water evaporates before the plant has a chance to soak it up, particularly during hot summer months. Try using soaker hoses instead, which can be wound around plants to deliver water right at the roots. These deliver a slow stream of water to minimize run off and maximize water going to the plant itself.
- Mulch – The value of mulch really can’t be overstated for a water-wise garden. Not only does it help insulate the plants from extreme temperatures, reduce weed invasion, and improve the soil as it breaks down, but it also regulates soil moisture and helps keep water from evaporating. Traditional shredded bark is a great choice, but you can also use grass clippings, leaves, or even newspaper for an inexpensive yet effective solution.
- Get a rain barrel – Whether you’re not too keen on water wise garden plants or just want to cut down on your utility bills, rain barrels are the way to go. Capturing the water from your gutters, these reservoirs give you a free stash of H2O with which to keep your garden watered between rains. From ones that look like old whiskey barrels to modern vinyl designs, they come in stunning styles to suit any home.
- Upgrade to Energy Star appliances – The biggest energy waster in your home may not be your son who leaves the back door open; appliances are huge energy hogs, and if they’re more than 8 years old, it’s time for an upgrade. New fridges, washing machines, air conditioners, dishwashers, and others use just a fraction of the power of the older versions, saving you money on your energy bill while simultaneously reducing your home’s carbon footprint.
- Compost – One exceptional way to cut down on your home’s trash output is to start a compost pile. Virtually any non-animal-product food can be fed to the compost pile, along with grass clippings, leaves, and even certain recyclable cartons. After just a year or so, you’ll have unbelievably rich soil for your garden, plus you’ll have saved countless pounds of trash from going to the landfill. Check your local waste center before buying or building a container, since some municipalities offer free compost bins.
- Refurbish, reuse, recycle – When you’re doing your home reno, keep these three terms in mind. In many cases, you can save cash and go green without sacrificing looks. For example, consider reclaimed wood for your new floors, or have kitchen cabinets refinished rather than replaced.
- Invest in insulation – Is your home older than 10 years? If so, chances are you could benefit from extra insulation. New building codes dictate significantly more than even just a few years ago, and adding just a few inches to your home could give you serious energy savings.
These eight ideas are just the beginning of things you can do to make your home eco-friendly, and there are countless little ways you can increase your home’s efficiency without giving up style or functionality. With just a little effort and ingenuity, you can make the most of what you’ve got, save money, and create the green home you always wanted.