Going green, fighting off home toxins, and saving energy in your home doesn't have to be expensive. There are many small, inexpensive, eco-friendly changes you can make that cost very little, but that will help keep you healthy, conserve energy, and save you a lot of money in the long run. Keep reading to learn about 6 extra easy green home changes you can make that cost around $20.00 or less a pop.
Caulk Your Home
If you’re looking for the most eco-bang for your buck, it’s hard to go wrong with caulking. You can score a can of caulk for about $3.00-$4.00 and a caulking gun for as cheap as $6.00 If your home is very large, and you caulk the whole thing, it may cost a bit more than $20.00, but this is still a really inexpensive way to save energy and money in the long run. According to the West Virginia Division of Energy, addressing poor insulation and air leaks in your home can significantly reduce your energy loss and thus reduce energy costs by 20 to 50% annually.
Note: If you live in an apartment or rental, ask before caulking. Some landlords prefer weather stripping—still a cheap fix.
Hang a Clothesline
It takes a significant amount of energy and money to run a clothes dryer. For example, some estimate that it can take 5,000 watts of energy to run your electric dryer for 40 minutes, plus run your energy costs up by $200.00+ per year. You can address the issue cheaply and easily with a simple decent clothesline and a large handful of clothespins for well under $20.00. If you live in an apartment, you can still hang dry your clothing with an inexpensive collection of hangers and a shower rack. Bonus: if you hang clothes on hangers to dry, you get to transfer them right into your closet.
Clean & Check Your Fridge
Your fridge only works correctly when it’s clean. When your fridge coils are grimy and dusty they don’t exchange heat through said coils as efficiently, making your fridge run harder and faster simply to work like normal. A jam-packed or totally empty fridge also wastes money and energy because in a packed fridge, the refrigerator air won’t circulate as well and in an empty fridge you’re lacking the cold items that usually help contribute to the cool temperature. Additionally, if your freezer gets overrun with ice, it will use more energy. Luckily, for the low, low cost of FREE you can keep your fridge clean and running efficiently.
Use a small attachment on your vacuum hose to clean the coils on the back of your fridge. Clean out food on a regular basis and don’t keep the fridge jam-packed or totally empty as a rule. Go with a mid-packed fridge and you’ll be a-ok. If you’re the “I don’t buy food” type, keep pitchers of water or containers or blocks of ice in your fridge and freezer to take up the empty space. Lastly, defrost your freezer regularly (if needed) or wipe down any ice build-up with a warm, wet towel. One last thing to check up on is your fridge door seal: this is normally the first thing to go bad on a fridge. Once in a while, check your seal (also known as the gasket) and if you see tiny gaps, rub some petroleum jelly on the entire gasket, which may save you from having to buy a whole new seal for a while longer.
Install Low-flow Shower Heads and Faucet Aerators
Eartheasy, among others, notes that installing low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators is the most effective way to save water in your home, reducing home water consumption by as much as 50 percent, and reducing your water heating energy costs by as much as 50 percent as well. Aerators almost always cost around $5.oo a pop and are insanely easy to install in under 10 minutes. As for a new showerhead, though you can splurge, there are plenty of decent low-flow shower heads that cost $20.00 or less.
Grow Some Plants
NASA says that growing plants indoors can cut your indoor air pollution considerably, including reducing harmful carcinogens like trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and benzene. Bonus: plants or seeds for plants are way less expensive (and more beautiful) than an air purifier. Your overall costs here will depends on the plant and the amount of on-going care it requires, but if you look for nursery sales or try mail order, you should be able to find air cleaning plants for under $15.oo a pop. If you grow your own plants from seeds, assuming you already have some pots and/or soil on hand, it’s even less expensive to have air-cleaning plants around.
Insulate Your Water Heater Tank
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water is responsible for 18 percent of U.S. home energy use and is the second largest energy expense in your home. Many, if not most, newer water heaters are already well-insulated, but if you own an older model, it may not be. First off check your older water heater to see if it has insulation with an R-value of at least 24. If it doesn’t and you insulate, you could reduce standby heat losses by 25–45 percent and save 4–9 percent in water heating costs. You can easily insulate your electric hot-water storage tank or natural gas or oil hot-water storage tank with an inexpensive water heater insulation blanket that costs around $20.00.
Beyond insulation, you can also use some free techniques to save energy and money when it comes to heating your water, such as:
- Set the thermostat to no higher than 120 degrees F (50 degrees C).
- Limit sediment buildup that blocks effectiveness by removing a quart of water every three months.
- Wash laundry on cold and turn off any “water heat” feature on your dishwasher.