The big buzz right now in the industry is going green. What exactly does that mean? There are many things that can be done to reduce your impact here on mother earth - some of which are small and economical, while others require significant investment to get started.
Here Comes The Sun
In the past, home owners thought of solar energy as something that was for off-the-grid homes, but as fuel prices are rising and becoming more scarce, solar power is moving into the mainstream. The costs are coming down, there are federal tax incentives, and many states even offer rebates to those willing to make the move.
Most people are aware of solar cells as a source of electricity, but there are other ways to harness the sun's energy. Installing sky lights or having a sun room built is one innovative way to use a sunny day to contribute to your home's temperature. Solar hot water heaters work great and are designed with backup systems for cloudy days.
When talking about green furniture, we aren't talking about the fabric color, but the materials and methods used to manufacture it. There are a number of companies that produce home furnishings with environment in mind. Look for items made with cotten, linen, bamboo, or hemp. Cushioning can even be made with soy!
Energy Efficient Appliances
Purchasing energy efficient appliances can save you a lot of money in annual energy expenses, even when considering the cost of refitting your home with new appliances. Not only that, but doing so will ultimately reduce your energy useage and your carbon footprint on this earth.
If you aren't quite ready for new appliances, try simple energy saving tricks like water restricters on faucets and efficient shower heads.
LED and Flourescent Bulbs
Energy efficient light bulbs are starting to become the norm, now that they produce warm light similar to that of convential incandescent bulbs. Besides using significantly less power, LED and fluorescent bulbs outlast halogen and incandescent lights by 10 to 20 times, keeping fixture bulb replacement to a minimum.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that over 20 percent of the total electricity generated in the United States is used to light homes, businesses and streets. In addition, incandescent lighting contributes significant amounts of heat, increasing the load on air-conditioning and increasing energy usage.
There are many other ways to bring your home into the modern age of energy efficiency and lower your carbon footprint. There are composting toilets, solar ovens, wind-powered generators, and a whole list of other products specifically designed for going green. Even if you can't afford to make any drastic changes, simple things like recycling and composting can help.