Today is The Day to Make Green Changes to Your Chicago Home

April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

If you want to do something to honor the occasion, check out our article:

Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Around Chicago

But, really, Earth Day is best celebrated by making changes in your own home.

The Earth Day Network has themed this year’s 41st celebration as “A Billion Acts of Green,” and are encouraging people to observe Earth Day 2011 by doing something small but sustainable in their own homes to help the planet.

What are some things you can do in your home to help keep the Earth healthy?

Here are some easy suggestions:

*Switch to energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). They last 10 times longer than the old bulbs, produce 90 percent less heat and use about 75 percent less energy.

*Lower your thermostat. For every degree you take it down, you’ll save 3 to 5 percent on your heating costs. During the summer, crank the temperature up a notch.

*Lowering your water heater to 120°F will not only save you money on energy costs, it will help your water heater last longer and work better.

*You already recycle, but do you divide them? Do it: One bag for paper; one for cans, glass and plastics; one for yard waste.

*Use eco-friendly cleaners in your home and all-natural products on your lawn. Avoid pesticides.

*Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth; avoid using aerosol deodordants.

*Don’t throw away that banana peal; kitchen scraps make a great compost for your garden. Chicagohomecomposting.org has a ton of information about this.

*Use rechargeable or lithium batteries and recycle your alkaline ones at Chicago Public Libraries or Chicago Walgreens locations to keep them out of landfills.

*Use reusable items for dusting: an extraneous sock or cloth glove, an ripped up t-shirt, an old towel.

*Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use to avoid being sucked by power vampires.

*Take care of your furnace by cleaning it or replacing its filter two times a year.

*Buy local produce and grocery items. Go for organic fruits and vegetables when there is no skin to peel.

*Carpool, ride your bike or take public transportation whenever possible.

*Bring your own reusable bag to the grocery store and your own reusable mug to the coffee shop. Replace plastic water bottles with your own reusable cup.

Some more extensive steps you can take:

*Install high-efficiency appliances and fixtures. Run only full loads of dishes and laundry and do it at night.

*Convert your toilet into a dual flusher to save money and water.

*Cover your roof with aluminum roof coating to reflect UV rays, reduce heat absorption and add years to the life of your roof.

*Add insulation. According to Energy Star, you could save up to 10 percent on your total annual energy bill by sealing and insulating your home.

*Get a home energy audit and find out how you can save energy in your home and money on your bills.

*Clean and seal your heating ducts.

*Add a rain barrel to your yard and collect water runoff to use later to water your plants.

*Plant trees. Two mature trees provide enough oxygen for a family of four, and trees can increase your property value by 10 to 20 percent or more.

“Something that makes a home more resource efficient is definitely an act of green,” said Eric Borsting, chair of the National Association of Home Builders’ Green Building Subcommittee. “And being a good steward of the earth’s resources can also help a family save money on utility bills over time.”

Have a good, green, productive Earth Day, and then enjoy the benefits and the savings every day after.

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