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Basic Tips for an Eco-Friendly Home

Many people think that having an environmentally friendly house means spending thousands of dollars on solar panels or planting a garden on the roof to keep the house cool during the summer time.

That’s not really the case. There are many things you can do to help the environment without having to transform your home, or even spend too much money. In fact, you might end up saving hundreds of dollars per year in the process.

The following tips will help you get started.

Use ENERGY STAR Appliances

Refrigerators. Microwaves. Air conditioners. Heaters. Dishwashers. These are the appliances that eat up more than half of the $2,200 an average family spends in energy costs per year. However, you can do your part to help the planet and also save up to 30 percent of the electricity bill by using energy efficient products that have the ENERGY STAR symbol.

To enjoy some of the benefits of appliances with the ENERGY STAR symbol,

  • Replace the five most used light bulbs in the home with energy-efficient bulbs. This could save you $65 per year in electricity bills.
  • Replace, whenever you can, old and energy inefficient appliances such as air conditioning units and heating equipment. These devices alone typically consume more than half of the energy in a house.

The ENERGY STAR website has tips for saving energy and finding ENERGY STAR products.

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

An easy way to reduce damage to the environment is to use cleaning products that are biodegradable and have low toxicity levels. These products could also make your home safer, as the lower toxicity might reduce the chance of accidental poisonings.

To use eco-friendly cleaning products:

  • Avoid those products that are highly flammable and are labeled as dangerous or poisonous.
  • Buy solvent free or bio-based products such as those made with citrus or pine.
  • Buy products that are certified by third parties such as Green Seal or Scientific Certification Systems.

You can also clean your house by using simple, non-toxic household substances such as white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice and borax. However, be careful because these substances don’t work well on all surfaces.

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

The Environmental Protection Agency says that recycling is one of the best ways to help the environment. But beyond recycling, it’s important to properly dispose household items like cleaning products, oils, batteries, pesticides and other products containing hazardous components that can harm both humans and the environment.

Your local government recycling program can give you more information on which products can be recycled and how to dispose of dangerous household items.

If you need help deciding what papers to keep and what to throw away, our guide to managing household records can help.

Controlling Pests This Spring

Most places across the country have experienced a milder winter than normal. The milder temperatures will increase the chances of homes getting infested with pests earlier and perhaps more frequently this spring.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers many do’s and don’ts of pest control and tips on how to prevent them in your home:

  • Prevent pests by safely storing food in sealed containers
  • Check any loose plumbing so that no water accumulates
  • Close off cracks and crevices where pests can enter your home

If pests do enter your home, make sure to carefully and correctly follow the instructions on any pesticide containers. It is also important that you dispose of them correctly in case of any hazardous waste.

Get more tips on controlling pests from the EPA.

Asked by Anonymous

Can my mortgage lender just add on flood insurance without proof?

Under federal law, you must purchase flood insurance if you will receive federal money to purchase or build a home in a high-risk flood area. A mortgage lender can also require flood insurance if you live in a moderate-to-low risk area. 

Learn more about mortgage lender requirements for flood insurance or about the National Flood Insurance program.

Holiday Tip of the Day: Prevent Holiday Fires

Every holiday season, fires claim the lives of over 400 people and cause over $990 million in damage. You can keep your family safe by using nonflammable decorations, not overloading electrical sockets, and avoiding the use of lit candles. If you have a live Christmas tree, water it regularly. Dry trees could catch on fire and rapidly fill your room with deadly gases. Prevent holiday fires in your home.

Did you miss yesterday’s tip? Get more holiday tips.