Going green at home doesn’t mean a lot of expensive changes to how things work. Simple changes to your home and your routine can have a huge impact on your power bill. Some of these ideas make great projects for kids too!
Make recycled paper lights
You can use recycled paper to make your own lamps for outdoor use. A corn starch paper mache lamp with a low intensity compact fluorescent or LED bulb, or even a tea light, looks great hanging from the patio. Find patterned paper online and order some alum as a flame retardant. Alum is an aluminum based salt that is flame resistant, so you can use the lamps for light without burning down the house.
Just think bamboo
Bamboo has a wide range of uses, and you can apply it to almost any room in your home. Bamboo vertical blinds are sturdier than standard vertical blind slats, which often are made of PVC or vinyl materials. Bamboo is also great material for dinner plates. Reuse the plates as often as you wish, then compost or toss them and replace them. The entire process is natural and the plates will biodegrade within four to six months.
Make your own soap
With some simple molds that you can find at your local craft store, you can make your own soap using a few household ingredients — and you’ll know exactly what’s in your soap. You’ll need an oil base like vegetable or grape seed, some lye, and essential oils in your favorite scents. You can choose lavender, peppermint or anything else you want. You also can add shea butter, which you can make from local ingredients to make a moisturizing bar of soap. Remember to buy some rubber gloves before you handle lye, but once you have mixed the basic soap recipe, pouring and making soap is a fun project for kids.
Use cleaner household cleaners
Baking soda, citrus, vinegar and rubbing alcohol are all great cleaners. A slice of lemon can make your garbage disposal smell fresh after usage, or clean the bacteria from your cutting board. Warm water with a cup or two of vinegar makes for a good floor cleaning solution, and you can add vinegar to the rinse cycle of your dishwasher or washing machine. Add citrus to the mixture for a refreshing scent.
Let there be natural light
Let more natural light into your home. It’s good for your body and help you lower your power bill. For those without a lot of natural lighting readily available, switch to compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs, which are getting less expensive every day. This new technology creates bright light through bulbs that last longer and consume a lot less power than a standard light bulb. Follow the Energy Star Advanced Lighting Package to save on your power bill and generate less heat with your home.
Keep it cool
As summer progresses and the temperature keeps climbing, cooling your home has never been more important. But there are ways to do it without breaking the bank. Blackout curtains are great for areas that receive direct sunlight, and it’s easy to find options that are moderately priced. Simple changes to your lifestyle can also help. For example, watch less television during the daytime or avoid doing your laundry until the evening. If you have fans, set them up so that air coming from one window circulates to another window across the room.
Plant privacy trees
Privacy is a big concern for every homeowner, but this is especially true if your home is positioned in a way that allows folks outside to easily see straight into your home. Aside from heavy window treatments, the best thing you can do in that case is to plant privacy trees to block unwanted viewing of the inside of your home, and also makes your property greener — literally. The Tree Center has many carefully chosen Privacy Trees just for this purpose.
Improvisation leads to fun ideas. If the typical blackout curtains aren’t your cup of tea, make your own from organic cotton fabric and use blackout liners instead. Drill some holes into a metal coffee cans to make outdoor lamps you can use to light your garden path.
The more you can reuse in and around your house, the better for the environment. If all else fails, spend more time outside and start a garden.