Green Homes

By Pankaj Tripathi

Green choices, are decisions which are friendly to the environment, lead to savings, good health and prosperity for one and all. These choices range from minor lifestyle changes like drinking coffee in ceramic mugs and reusing paper to major ones like using clean energy or having an ‘Energy Star’ labeled appliance. The good news is that you don’t have to do everything all at once. You can do it bit by bit and work your way towards a bigger goal – a carbon neutral household. Here are some tips on how to do it:

  1. Use more energy efficient appliances. An old refrigerator can lead to your annual hydro bill increasing by almost 150 dollars. The fridge has a major share of your energy bills. Get a new refrigerator with an ‘Energy Star’ labeling.
  2. Watch the temperature. Almost half of your hydro bill goes towards heating or cooling your home. Wear an extra layer in winter and turn down the thermostat a bit, while in summer use fans as an alternative to air conditioners. Shade your windows properly and insulate them securely to avoid unnecessary loss or gain of heat.
  3. Conserve water. Install an aerator on all your household taps. Together with a low flow toilet, it can help reduce your water consumption by more than half. Do not hose the drive way, use a broom instead. Simple changes that help you save money.
  4. Use eco-friendly cleaners and detergents. Do not buy cleaners and detergents that are potentially toxic to the environment and your family. Use natural or alternative cleaners, they are as good as synthetic cleaners. Use biodegradable options.
  5. Energy-efficient lighting. Install Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs). They consume 65 percent less energy than a standard incandescent bulb.
  6. Use less paper and prevent deforestation. Purchase ‘tree-free’ recycled paper, and remove yourself from all those crazy junk mail lists. Buy only unbleached paper.
  7. Instead of hardwood floors, go for bamboo. It is environmentally friendly because of its high yield and the rapid rate at which it replenishes itself.
  8. Use less plastic. From reusable shopping bags to disposable containers, use eco-friendly alternatives. A jute bag works as well, as a plastic bag. It is much better than paying for all those plastic bags that end up in waterways, sewers and landfills.
  9. Use eco-friendly paints. Traditional paints have solvents, toxic metals and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). These cause indoor air quality problems and negative health effects. Choose low VOC paint; it is good for your family and the environment.
  10. A greener garden. Use compost. Use native plants and perennials. Do not use chemical pesticides.

All these changes lead to small savings, which together add up to a significant amount. A lot of them like solar panels, wind mills or your ride on the transit qualify for government rebates, tax credits and buyback programs.

Living green pays off because it leads to savings and ensures health for your family and community. The two most important things in settling down in this beautiful country are savings and health.

Christopher Phillips, Project Manager and Green Building Consultant at Greening Homes says, "We have so many green and eco-friendly options available to us that all it requires is a bit of planning, foresight and commitment." Phillips says that the small decisions we make, right from using drywalls made of recycled items to sorting recovered material while “unbuilding” homes, lead to savings and huge benefits. He also explains that the four changes that can help save the most are: insulating your home properly, replacing the windows with energy efficient ones, replacing your toilet(s), and sealing air leaks around windows and doors.

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