There’s no denying that the home improvement industry is booming. Now that summer is here, more people will be spending even more time thinking about what they can do to maintain and upgrade their homes – inside and out. That’s especially true if you’ve been putting off those tasks during the colder months.
However, if you’re trying to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, it’s important to know how some traditional maintenance solutions could be doing more harm than good. Additionally, consider what you could be doing to make your home more eco-friendly on a long-term basis.
The good news? It’s easier than you might think.
Let’s look at three eco-friendly home maintenance tips you can use this summer and for many years to come.
1. Declutter Responsibly
One of the easiest ways to spruce up your home (inside and out) is to clean things up. Inside, you can start by decluttering and getting rid of things you don’t use or want anymore. However, there are ways to do that responsibly. Americans generate 16 million tons of textile waste each year, filling up landfills and causing major issues. If you have clothes you’re trying to get rid of, consider the following options instead.
- Sell them online
- Host a garage sale/yard sale
- Donate them to a shelter
- Donate them to a thrift store
When it comes to getting rid of old decorations or furniture, you can use the same methods, or try to repurpose them in different ways. Sometimes, a fresh coat of paint or new upholstery can breathe new life into something.
Once everything is decluttered, choose eco-friendly cleaning products to get your home sparkling. Some of today’s top cleaning products might get the job done, but contain harmful chemicals that can end up negatively impacting your health and the environment. Search for green cleaning alternatives that benefit everyone.
2. Keep Things Running Properly
Old appliances are energy suckers.
While most major appliances, including refrigerators, can run for 15-20 years, that doesn’t mean they should. A refrigerator that’s over 20 years of age might use about 1,700 kWh of electricity each year. An energy-efficient, newer model uses about 450 kWh.
While replacing all of your outdated appliances with newer models is ideal, it’s not feasible for everyone, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
Instead of replacing your appliances all at once, you can cut back on some of the energy drain by keeping things well-maintained and running properly. If you consider yourself somewhat handy, you can take care of yearly maintenance yourself. Learning a few basics, like how to fix a dryer, fridge, or dishwasher, is often easier than most people think. For example, if you want to keep your fridge running efficiently, make sure to do the following at least once a year.
- Check the door seal
- Make sure the temperature is set correctly
- Empty ice accumulation
- Keep coils clean
If you don’t want to maintain things yourself, it’s a worthwhile investment to contact a handyman or repair technician, especially when it comes to electronics. Yes, you’ll have to pay a fee, but the money you’ll save on your energy bills will offset it quickly.
Not only is keeping things like your HVAC system and other appliances running smoothly good for the environment, but it can help to improve your family’s health. If you have family members with respiratory issues, for example, indoor air quality is important. Maintaining your heating and cooling system and keeping air ducts clean can help everyone to breathe easier, including your pets.
Finally, don’t feel like major appliances are the only thing you should replace or repair! Maybe you’re not able to drop hundreds of dollars on a new refrigerator. However, almost everyone can replace the lighting in their homes with LED bulbs. It’s a smart, simple, and cost-effective way to save energy and keep things bright.
3. Invest in Renewable Energy
If you want to make some larger changes to your home, consider the investments that can reduce your carbon footprint (and eventually save you money!).
Things like composting, having a recycling center, and using rain barrels are all fantastic ways to cut back on your dependency on nonrenewable resources and keep the landfills from piling up.
However, the future of sustainability will rely greatly on renewable energy. For homeowners, one of the best ways to invest in that kind of energy is by installing solar panels. In 2018, California mandated that all newly-constructed homes install solar panels. While other states haven’t yet followed suit with those mandates, it’s clear that solar energy is one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways for homeowners to take charge of their energy responsibility.
While it can cost several thousand dollars to get panels installed on your home (price varies by state), the return on your investment won’t take long. On average, people save about $1,500 each year on their energy bills. You might also qualify for a tax credit.
Whether you simply want to spruce up your home this summer, or you’re ready to make major eco-friendly updates, sustainable maintenance will keep your home in top shape today while helping your family live more sustainable lives for years.