So you wanna reduce your global footprint and learn more about eco-homes? Excellent! Not only is your decision great for the environment, it can reduce your monthly expenses and be great for your wallet.
Taking the steps to live more eco-friendly is easy if you know where to start. Let’s begin with some background on this catchy “eco” term.
What the Heck is Eco?
Is eco short for environment or economics? Nope. In fact, eco is short for ecology which is the science of studying the earth and environment.
Since ecologists have been pushing for a “greener” environment, the term eco caught on and now is used for the whole green movement. Not to mention the Green Party was once named the Ecology Party.
Photo credit: PhoTones_TAKUMA
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on.
What Makes an Eco Home?
I’ve got two words for you: energy and waste. Reduce these and you’ve got yourself an eco home. It’s that simple… well, sort of…
While the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has developed the Green Building Rating System™, in general eco homeowners use the following:
- Solar energy
- Recycled materials
- Natural light and/or high-efficiency lighting
- Rooftop gardens (helps with insulation and water runoff)
- Rain water tanks
- Non-deforested woods or other materials all together
- The sun for natural heating
- Double paned windows and glass doors
- Fully insulating roofs and walls
- Dimmer switches for lights
- Ceiling fans
- Water heaters wrapped in insulated blankets or tankless water heaters
- Vegetable gardens
- Recycling programs
- And anything that doesn’t create waste or use more energy
Photo credit: lmpicard
Can I Convert My Home to an Eco Home?
Absolutely! And applaud yourself for taking the next step to a more sustainable future.
Most people think that eco homes are built from scratch. However, that breaks the whole concept of eco-friendly, reducing waste and energy. You can recycle your home into an eco home.
Making the eco change doesn’t have to be a major construction project. You can start making these small changes today.
- Unplug appliances when not in use
- Air dry sheets on outdoor clothes lines
- Air dry dishes
- Change your light bulbs to high-efficiency lighting (CFLs and LEDs are the most popular, but ask a local hardware rep what’s best for you)
- Buy an insulated blanket for your water heater
- Visit a weekend garage sale instead of going to Bed Bath and Beyond
- Start a vegetable garden
- Start using a compost system (you can buy compost systems out-of-the-box or use recycled wood materials to build your own)
- Recycle (if your neighborhood doesn’t have a program, contact your local waste management company to get more information)
Photo credit: Esther Gibbons
Once you’ve made all the small adjustments around your home, you can start to plan some of the bigger projects.
- Have solar energy panels installed (you get a huge tax break and will save bundles on your monthly electric bill)
- Build a rooftop garden (if you have a flat roof, start a rooftop garden to insulate your home, reduce rain runoff, and provide fruits and vegetables)
- Install rain water tanks to use for the garden or in-home
- Install roof windows for added natural light
- Replace old window and glass doors with double paned options to help with insulation
- Fully insulate roofs and walls
- Install light dimmer switches and ceiling fans
Going eco doesn’t have to be an overwhelming project. It’s really your day-to-day choices that make the biggest impact.
Remember being eco is simply a matter of reducing your energy and waste. With every decision you make, consider if you’ll be consuming or reducing.
Have you made any eco-friendly home improvements? If so, share a comment below.
Darcie Connell is the co-founder of Trekity.com (a new travel site) and TravelBloggerAcademy.com (an info site for travel bloggers). She’s an eco-traveler who consistently tries to minimize her global footprint. Follow her on Twitter.