Written by Suzanne Morrissey
1. Fix a drip.
Drip, drop, drip, drop. That leak in the bathroom sink is not just annoying. It’s costing you loads of cash in water and energy bills and wasted gallons. Get it fixed ASAP, and if you can’t get the plumber scheduled right away, use this old trick: Tie a string on the faucet and allow the drops to dribble silently down into a cup or small bowl. Use the collected H2O to water your houseplants.
2. Get clean.
Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners in favor of natural cleansers (soap, water, vinegar, baking soda). You’ll do a favor for the environment and yourself.
3. Be water wise.
Low-flow toilets have come a long way. New models max out at 1.6 gallons of water per flush, but the very latest models can use even less.
4. Be water wise some more.
Tankless water heaters are a great energy saver. There’s no reason to keep a giant tank of heated water at your beck and call all day and night. Bonus tip: Go the extra mile when you turn on the shower by placing a bucket or other container under the showerhead. In the few moments it takes for the water to heat up, you can gather enough for the dog’s bowl and the houseplants. Don’t waste a drop!
5. Smell Sweet.
Cut down on harmful chemicals and gasses released into your home by using low- or no-VOC paints when giving the bath, or any other room, a fresh color.
6. Be water smart.
A simple hardware store doo-dad called an aerator on your kitchen (or bath) faucet cuts down on water consumption, sacrificing very little if any water pressure. For less than $15, you can install one of these yourself and save up to 500 gallons per year.
7. Vent a little.
Proper ventilation in the cooktop hood of your kitchen keeps bills down and air quality up.
8. Think small.
The kitchen is the energy gobbler of the home. If you’re planning a remodel, building new, or just replacing an old appliance, remember that bigger isn’t always better. In addition to looking for energy-efficiency ratings on your new purchase, consider going for a smaller model that uses less energy to begin with. Bonus tip: New drawer-style dishwashers help cut back on water use for smaller loads.
9. Lighten Up.
Opening up a kitchen with skylights and windows that allow natural sunlight to stream in not only helps your mood stay perky, it is a natural, free way to light your space. No budget to add windows? At least let the light in by removing heavy, lightblocking window treatments.
10. Divide and Conquer.
Dedicate a little space for recycling bins or bags to make living green convenient for the whole family. You can purchase color-coded units with separate compartments and lids, or create your own recycling center with inexpensive bins from the home center or discount store.
11. Go, greens!
Try your hand at going green by growing herbs or salad greens in the kitchen. Bringing in a natural element adds some coziness to your home’s busiest room, and naturally cleans the air you breathe. (And of course, nothing beats adding your own fresh basil to that pasta at the dinner table.)