If you’re truly committed to an eco-friendly lifestyle, you know there’s more to it than buying energy efficient appliances and scaling back your heating and air use. It involves using fewer resources, producing less waste, conserving water, supporting local and independent businesses, and cutting down your use of fossil fuels where you can.
One of the best ways to go green is to install a solar power system that can help shoulder your home’s energy load. But to go green in a myriad of ways, you have to look outside of your habitat and make provisions for on-the-go eco-friendliness. We have a few suggestions for continuing this way of life even when you’re out working, socializing, or travelling.
Use a Solar Charger
Even though solar has been taking off in recent years, the sun as a resource is still largely untapped. It has so much to offer, and finding small ways to harness its sustainable energy can make daily tasks more convenient for you and healthier for the environment. The powergorilla battery is not only portable; it also works with an array of devices from your mobile phone to your laptop. Plus, it works in tandem with the solargorilla solar charger to ensure you have plenty of backup for powering those devices for a completely off-grid portable power solution.
Bring Your Own Eco-Friendly Utensils
If you eat at fast food restaurants every now and then, you know that they often hand out plastic utensils sealed in plastic wrapping. Disposable cutlery may not seem like a big deal, but single-use plastics account for millions of pounds of waste that leaches chemicals into our water and threatens wildlife. Carrying around an eco-friendly reusable utensil pack can help you make an everyday difference and also change the way others around you approach eating out. Consider investing in a reusable straw as well.
Shop at Thrift Stores
The fashion industry is detrimental to both the planet and to human rights. The production and shipping of new garments involves toxic chemicals, irresponsibly sourced raw materials, wasted textiles, fossil fuels, and poor working conditions. Instead of investing in this industry, shop for clothes at thrift stores.
Instead of going to chain restaurants and coffee shops, support local establishments that serve locally-sourced foods. Larger franchises often source their items, especially meat, from companies that harm the environment. They also must ship the food to the location near you, which makes for a higher carbon footprint.
Bike or Ride Public Transit
Obviously, riding a bike is more environmentally friendly because they use no fuel to operate. But beyond that, they take a lot less energy to manufacture and require no toxic batteries or motor oil. Public transit can also drastically reduce emissions. Neither of these may be the most convenient option, but commuting differently is a rather small choice that can make a big impact.
Use Reusable Bags
As mentioned above, single use plastics account for millions pounds of waste each year. Plastic grocery bags are often non-recyclable because they get caught in the machinery at recycling facilities. But be responsible with your reusable bags. They’re heavier duty plastic, so buying a dozen of them just to replace thinner single-use bags may even out in the end. Buy just a few to frequently wipe down and use wisely. You could also reuse paper bags from retailers who use them.
Avoid Buying Plastic
Plastic finds its way into our lives in so many ways, from surrounding our produce to entertaining our kids. Cutting out plastic means diligently choosing other options—for example, shopping at a farmers market rather than a grocery store where things are packaged, buying a water filter instead of water bottles, or choosing kids toys and games made from natural materials.
Taking these small steps can help you lead by example. Next thing you know, your friends, coworkers, and family members will be recycling more, using solar chargers, and thinking about the impact of each small choice they make.
The luxury of owning a second home comes with the weight of responsibility. Whether you stop by once every few weeks or just twice per year, taking steps to maintain it in your absence is crucial. Otherwise, you could return to find the lawn unruly, dust covering every surface, pests invading, or your property tampered with.
But one of the most cringe-worthy maintenance mistakes is failing to make your home as energy efficient as possible while you’re away. The last thing you want is an unnecessarily high utility bill showing you how much money you’ve spent to keep a home comfortable—for zero occupants.
If monthly utility bills for your second home are a thorn in your side, here are a few measures you can take to optimize efficiency and make your second home more environmentally friendly.
Install a Smart Thermostat
You’re probably accustomed to changing the temperature settings before you leave to save energy; but if the season changes while you’re away, that could be counterintuitive. Thankfully, there’s a cost-effective way to manage your HVAC system to perfection: a smart thermostat. It will keep you in tune with your energy usage, and most importantly, it will allow you to precisely control the temperature from your smartphone while you’re away. Imagine saving energy all season, then with a few simple clicks from the road, warming up the home to prepare for a cozy family winter getaway.
Turn Down Your Water Heater
Turning the temperature down on your water heater may seem inessential if no one will be using any water. But according to Energy.gov, it can help reduce standby losses, or heat that transfers from the water heater to the surrounding area. Even though manufacturers tend to set water heaters at 140 degrees fahrenheit, you can bump it down to 120 even when your second home is in use. Some natural gas water heaters have a “vacation/holiday” mode that you can select before you leave. If you’re adjusting yours manually, make sure to leave it no lower than 50 degrees.
Close Window Treatments
Blinds and curtains can help stop heat transfer between the outdoors and indoors, which helps you save energy. Sunlight can also fade furnishings like furniture and carpet. Closing window treatments is especially important when it comes to southwest-facing windows.
Lower the Fridge Temperature
Refrigerators use more energy to operate than any other home appliance. If you’re only leaving for a week, the savings that come from unplugging the fridge or lowering the temperature may not be worth wasting food and going through the effort. However, if you will be absent from your second home for a few weeks or more, it’s a good idea to clean out the fridge and lower the temperature. You can set the fridge temperature at 42 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at 5 degrees.
Automate Your Lights
Even if you have someone maintain your yard and check your mail, leaving the lights off at night can signal an empty house. But if you leave a light on, you’re wasting electricity—and it will eventually burn out. Think about automating your lights so that you can control them from afar and set up “scenes” that can give the impression someone is home.
Unplug Small Appliances
You may think turning off appliances stops them from using energy, but in assuming that, you could fall prey to energy vampires. These are appliances that use energy when they are plugged in. One phone charger may not make a difference on your bill, but a combination of chargers, TVs, computers, and coffee makers actually could.
Prioritizing energy efficiency not only helps you save money, but helps you better maintain your second home so that you have fewer responsibilities to take care of the next time you visit.
Contributed by Hannah West who writes for Home Improvement Leads with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence and connect them with quality contractors they can trust.