A Greener New Year

The age old question always comes around at the beginning of every New Year and it comes in many different forms. What will I do this year to make it better than the last? What do I want to do to make my life better? What will I do to change my look, lifestyle, attitude, etc? Well if you struggle to make it through the year reaching your goals, then we have an alternative just for you! What about living in a more thoughtful, sustainable lifestyle? Centered around your home and lifestyle, we have five tips for changes you can make and follow through with your goals to make it the entire year. Even if you adopt one of these, you’ll be on your way to a better, greener lifestyle.

  1. With energy costs constantly fluctuating and rising, this might be a good year to consider replacing inefficient appliances, fixtures, and lights in your home. Energy star certified appliances are easy to find at big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot, but don’t forget about your local retailers or second hand stores. Patterson’s Appliances has many locations around the Knoxville area and many Habitat for Humanity Home stores get deals on new appliances from dealers (and their money goes to a great cause!)
  2. Sometimes new appliances can be expensive to replace, but keep in mind there are other ways to save energy and resources from flowing too quickly through your home. During these cold winter months, make sure to seal any cracks your house may have that let hot air escape without keeping you warm. Make sure there are no leaks around windows and doors and if there are, seal them with caulk or another type of insulation. Often times, even keeping curtains over your windows will keep more warmth in the house. If you’re really unsure about improvements you can make, TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) or its certified consultants will provide a free in home test and then provide tips for your specific home. Check out www.tva.gov/ee/in_home_eval.htm for more information.
  3. Water is constantly being used in our homes and it is a costly resource. To cut down on the amount of water being used for daily tasks, remember to do the simple things of turning the water off when not in use and taking shorter showers. Low-flow fixtures can replace old toilets, shower heads, and faucets. Dual flush toilets are commonly available as well as dual flush kits to retrofit your existing toilet.
  4. A simple tip for greening your home or office would be to commit to using green cleaning products. This simple excerpt from the EPA tells us why “green” products are a good compliment to your cleaning routine- “Cleaning products are necessary for maintaining attractive and healthful conditions in the home and workplace. In addition to the obvious aesthetic benefits of cleaning, the removal of dust, allergens, and infectious agents is crucial to maintaining a healthful indoor environment. But cleaning products can present several health and environmental concerns. They may contain chemicals associated with eye, skin, or respiratory irritation, or other human health issues. Additionally, the concentrated forms of some commercial cleaning products are classified as hazardous, creating potential handling, storage, and disposal issues for users.” It’s important to know what to look for when buying such products- brands like Seventh Generation offer a good line for good prices and can even be found in stores like CVS. You may also look to homemade cleaning remedies which often use household items like white vinegar and baking soda.  www.epa.gov/epp/pubs/cleaning.htm
  5. And last but not least, to connect your home to your workplace, we recommend reevaluating your mode of transportation. Relying on personal cars may not be the best solution for getting you to and from home. There are many options out there including walking, cycling, taking public transportation or carpooling with a neighbor. If you’re in and around Knoxville, make sure to register with the local Smart Trips program to improve your own quality of life as well as the region’s air pollution, all the while saving money and earning rewards. Their website has plenty of smart tips and ideas for improving your commute. Check it out here http://smartrips.knoxtrans.org/

Good luck with these or any other resolutions you have for 2013!