In the Bible, God gave the Earth to Adam and Eve for them to look after as His stewards and caretakers. He entrusted it and the things within it to them to care for, and make responsible use of. Regardless of whether you hold such things to be true, what is certainly known is that we are responsible for the places we live in, and the Earth is no different. As scientists warn of the increasing burdens that our lifestyles are having on the environment, the question arises: what can we do to lessen the impact we have on it?
There are steps you can take at home for a greener future. Believe it or not, you have more power over the state of the world today than you may realize. While things such as acid rain, deforestation, melting ice caps, and increasingly wild weather seem big and frightening to some, the truth is it is the little things that make the difference.
If you are worried that you are too small to make that distance, consider that one man in India managed to plant his own rainforest over the course of thirty years. He did this even while trying to maintain a small household and feed his family. Imagine what you could do then if you set your mind to it, having access to greater resources and spare time. To start you off, though, here are some small steps you can take to help make your home a little greener.
#1 Switch the Lights Off When Not in Use
This is a very simple yet effective way to cut down on energy use – switch lights off whenever a room is not in use. Doing so can quickly save you a small amount of money in energy costs by doing so, usually just under $1 a day depending on what types of bulbs you use. While it may seem small, that adds up to quite a bit over the year and can become even larger if every house in a given neighborhood does the same. Very quickly, you can make every home green.
So get into the habit of going through the house to make sure all the lights are off in rooms where they are not needed. During the day, open up the curtains as well to let in more natural light. Do the same for other electronic devices as well. Switch TVs and PCs off rather than leaving them in standby mode, and feel free to turn the microwave oven or the radio off at the socket as well to save further energy.
#2 Wash Clothes in Cold Water
There is a use in using hot water for your laundry: it breaks down stains faster and more efficiently and thus presents more effective cleaning power for your clothing. However for everyday laundry, it is actually a needless waste of electricity. Ordinary laundry that just needs freshening up is cleaned just as well if you use cold water rather than hot water.
So by all means, use warm water if your kids come back from the playground caked in half an inch of mud. However, if you are just picking clothes up from the floor that are otherwise rather clean, resist the urge to put them on a hot wash.
#3 Use Showers Instead of Baths
Baths use up much water. An average tub is capable of holding around 60 gallons/270 liters of water, all of which is likely to be heated, although most only ever use half to three-quarters of that amount. Meanwhile, a quick six-minute shower to freshen up in the morning or after work would use only around 27 gallons in comparison. So taking a shower each morning is a very good step towards a green home.
#4 Install Solar Panels as an Alternative Energy Source
It is tempting to think nowadays that you must use energy off the central grid if you want to power your home. While that may have been true twenty years ago or so, the case no longer applies. Solar energy in the last fifteen years has made many leaps and bounds in the technology it uses, making it more efficient, smaller in size, and cheaper to buy. As a result, many people wanting a home fit for a greener future have taken to installing solar panels on their roofs as a new source of energy for their home.
Solar panels work throughout the year, and while they do benefit most from sunlight they are capable of operating even while overcast. Installing them will immediately save you energy (and money) on your electricity, allowing you to power your homes without causing damage to the environment. The technology is still pricey, but what you save in electricity bills each year will soon pay it off. Furthermore, the wide availability of this technology means local contractors like Bob Heinmiller Solar Solutions can take care of the installation for you.
#5 Use Local or Homegrown Produce
Most of the food in your store has traveled a very long way to get to you, whether it is tropical fruits from the Caribbean or freshly ground coffee from Bolivia. This has two problems. First, its transportation has left a huge carbon footprint mark in air travel. Second, you do not know how it was acquired. The industry is driving South American beef, for example, is responsible for extensive deforestation of the Amazon rainforests, as well as methane emissions that contribute towards global warming.
A greener future can be acquired simply by shopping for locally grown produce, where you can see for yourself the conditions in which it is made. Growing vegetables and fruits at home in your backyard, likewise, is a very efficient and economical means of acquiring your creature comforts without risking damage to the environment.
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The writer, Christian Mills, is currently studying engineering and is learning how important efficiency is to our future. To help supplement his income, he writes on the side about green energy technology and solutions.