How to Be Greener Around the House
It seems that, for the past 10 years (if not more), climate change has been in the news on a daily basis with things like:
- Documentary movies (such as An Inconvenient Truth and Before the Flood).
- International accords (like the 2016 Paris Agreement and the 2012 Kyoto Protocol).
- Awareness events (for example, the Live Earth concerts of 2007).
It’s an important issue that’s not going away soon.
At Ten Mini Storage, we believe it’s easy to help the environment by being just a little more eco-friendly at home.
Lower your energy consumption
Something else that’s in the news is the rising cost of energy and hydro in Ontario.
While there doesn’t appear to be an immediate solution on the horizon, there are small changes you can make that can take a few dollars off your monthly bill:
- Adjust your thermostat: A few degrees lower in the winter and higher in the summer (so you’re still comfortable) will save on energy usage and costs.
- Use CFL bulbs: Compact fluorescent bulbs last approximately 9 times longer vs. traditional incandescent bulbs; and they use around 75% less energy during their lifespan.
- Wash clothes in cold water: Roughly 85% of washer energy output goes towards heating the water. Using cold water will get your clothes just as clean, but at a fraction of the cost.
- Move lamps away from your thermostat: Why? Because the heat generated from them will “trick” your thermostat into turning on the furnace or air conditioner.
Lastly, if you have old appliances you aren’t using, unplug them and move them to an out-of-the-way storage space. Even if they’re not activated, they still use what’s called “vampire power.”
In fact, a recent American study (source: National Resource Defense Council) discovered that homes, on average, spend $165/year on “vampire power” consumption.
Use less water
Just think about all the places and ways you use water each day: Cooking in the kitchen. Taking showers in the bathroom. Watering plants and grass. Washing laundry.
It’s impossible to not use water. But it is possible to use less of it:
- Shorten your showers: In Canada, the average 5 minute shower uses 100 litres of water (source: Toronto Star). A three minute shower gets you just as clean and saves approximately 40 litres.
- Turn off the taps while tooth brushing: Letting the taps run accomplishes nothing except wasting water down the drain. Each minute the taps are on, around 9 litres of water gets lost.
- Water your lawn in the morning or evening: Temperatures are much cooler during those times of day, meaning you need less water to keep your grass green and healthy.
- Run a full dishwasher: Your dishwasher doesn’t use less water if it’s half-empty. Even if it takes a day or two, wait until it’s completely filled up before turning it on.
Finally, something that’s becoming quite popular around Caledon, Brampton and surrounding areas are rain barrels.
Store it outdoors underneath your downspout. When it rains, it’ll collect the runoff from your roof. You can then use that water for your lawn and garden (rather than hose water from your house).
Save on gas
The average price of gas in Ontario is around $1.02/litre (source: Ontario Gas Prices).
And there’s no telling when it’ll go up; or by how much.
Using less gas saves the environment, wear-and-tear on your vehicle and money:
- Walk or bike to work: If it’s possible, leave the car at home. In Canada, the average commute is 17 kms (source: Metro News). That’s around 18 lbs of CO2 emissions generated daily.
- Keep your car tuned up: It’s easy to skip oil changes, tire rotations and other regular maintenance. But keeping your car in tip-top shape also maximizes fuel efficiency too.
- Slow down: Reducing your highway speed from 104 km/h to 90 km/h can improve fuel efficiency by approximately 13%. In a month, that can add up to around half-a-tank saved.
- Don’t idle: In winter, it’s common to let the car warm up. In summer, it’s common to let the car run while waiting. A car running for 1 minute wastes gas and pumps greenhouse emissions.
As well, when you purchase gas, try to do it early or late in the day (especially in the summer).
When it’s cool outside, gas is more dense (meaning you get more of it at the pump). When it’s hot outside, gas loses its density (and you get less of it when you pump). (Source: MoneyCrashers.com).
Other things you can do
Beyond water, energy and gas conservation, there are plenty of other eco-friendly initiatives you can take at home.
Best of all, they’re really easy to implement:
- Stop junk mail: The average home receives 69 lbs of junk mail per year (Source: Sustainable Baby Steps). If you won’t read it, don’t bother getting it and disposing of it in the first place.
- Don’t throw away electronics: It’s easy to chuck dead batteries or an old phone in the garbage. But those items contain mercury, which can leak. Recycle them properly instead.
- Use reusable items: From shopping bags to water bottles and cloths, there are plenty of non-disposable, non-single use items available to you.
- Hang dry your clothes: Dryers guzzle energy when being used. If possible, install a clothesline and let the sun dry your clothes absolutely free.
Did you know self-storage can be eco-friendly too?
For example, you can use sturdy, high-quality cardboard boxes that’ll last a long time and protect your items.
Or you can use packing ties (as opposed to tape) which can be used again and again.
By thinking green when it comes to your storage unit, you’ll help the environment, save money and protect your important things.