Published on October 21st, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans
Green Home Goods
Chances are that you’ve heard about hybrid cars and how their use will greatly contribute to reduced carbon dioxide levels in the air. We can all agree that driving hybrid cars is good for the environment, but would it surprise you to know that potential for an even bigger positive impact on the environment lies within your very own home?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American home puts out twice the amount of carbon dioxide as the average car. On top of that, households consume approximately one-fifth of the total energy used by the U.S. each year. Those are staggering statistics, but you can help the environment while saving anywhere from 10 to 50 percent on your energy bill just by bringing a little green into your home.
Some of the biggest energy-sappers in modern homes are home appliances. The average amount of money that Americans spend on energy costs is $1,900 and 20 percent of that is due to home appliances and electronics.
Buying new eco-friendly home appliances doesn’t have to be a hassle. The government has made appliance shopping somewhat easier for environmentally conscious consumers by mandating that most major appliances have an Energy Guide label. This bright yellow and black label contains information about how much energy the appliance uses, how much money you are likely to spend in annual operating costs, and it compares the energy use of the appliance with that of similar items.ENERGY STAR, a government program devoted to saving energy and reducing harmful air pollutants, approves those appliances that it deems to be low-energy and, when an appliance is ENERGY STAR qualified, it is usually noted on the Energy Guide label. One major appliance that you won’t see with an ENERGY STAR label, however, is the clothes drier. The reason for this is that most dryers use a similar amount of energy.
Home Energy Alternatives
If buying all new appliances seems like an undesirable option, there are alternatives to making your home more eco-friendly. For example, you can save energy in the kitchen by using microwaves and toaster ovens. They are more energy-conscious alternatives to stoves, utilizing significantly less electricity. When your nuked meal is over and it’s time to do dishes, load the dishwasher. Less water is wasted while using a dishwasher than while hand-washing dishes. As long as you skip rinsing the dishes before you load them and ensure that the dishwasher has a full load before you run it, dishwashers can actually save water.
In addition to kitchen appliances, there are ways to cut back on your energy use where household appliances are concerned. For instance, instead of using a clothes drier, simply line drying or investing in a drying rack will not only save energy, but will make your clothes last longer, cutting back on your contribution to landfills. As far as washing your clothes, investment in front-loading washers can save energy as well as water.
Energy conservation is important in your choice of air-conditioners, as well. There are currently air-conditioning models on the market that are Energy Star qualified. If your home has ceiling fans, using them in lieu of the air-conditioner will also help cut down on the energy usage.
On the flip side of keeping cool, water heaters are heating things up on the green scene. Solar panels, as well as tankless water heaters, are currently available. Solar panel water heaters save energy by running off of the energy of the sun. Tankless water heaters also save energy, but they accomplish this by heating water on an on-demand basis. Because tankless water heaters don’t hold water at all times, they last longer, forgoing corrosion.
While energy conservation and the reduction of air pollutants are huge components of going green in the home, reducing toxins in everyday materials that your household uses is equally important. Something that most parents don’t realize is that hidden dangers are lurking in their children’s toy boxes. According to National Geographic Society’s The Green Guide, several toys are made from petroleum-based plastics, which can pass harmful chemicals on to children when chewed on, impacting the development of certain hormones. Even some wooden toys can put children at risk as pressed plywood can emit formaldehyde gas and some paints used on wooden toys are toxic.
According to National Geographic Society’s The Green Guide, several toys are made from petroleum-based plastics, which can pass harmful chemicals on to children when chewed on, impacting the development of certain hormones.
Toys that can reduce the risk of chemical inhalation and toxin ingestion are those made with all-natural materials such as organic cotton or wool and un-coated, solid woods (preferably from sustainable forests). If your children enjoy crafts, check the materials to make sure that they are non-toxic. When your children grow out of their toys, a great way to lessen your contribution to landfills is to recycle them.
Just as the pressed plywood used to make toys can emit harmful gases into the air, so can the wood that is used to make your furniture, if it is not organic. When purchasing eco-friendly furniture, ensure that what you buy is not stain-proofed or treated with a flame retardant and is made from natural materials with minimal or natural glues. If you buy your furniture locally, you will reduce the amount of materials used for packaging as well as the energy and air toxins emitted in order to deliver the product.
Finally, replacing storage containers that are manufactured from harmful plastics with natural materials can also cut down on the toxicity levels in your home. When you put items into storage, packing your breakable items in cloth or recycled paper will cut down on waste. Storage containers that are eco-friendly alternatives to plastic include cardboard boxes, cloth bags, canvas bins, and bamboo baskets.
Living in a green home is a choice that brings with it not only environmental benefits, but monetary and health benefits, as well. If you are considering going green or have gone green in other areas of your life aside from domestic, keep in mind that when it comes to going green, there’s no place like home.