Gwen Leron: 50 Shades of Green


5 Surprising Ideas to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

Did you know about these things?

5 Surprising Ideas to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

When you think of ways to make your home greener, things such as using energy-efficient bulbs, composting/recycling, and conserving water are probably what immediately come to mind. These are all excellent actions to take but there are some things you may not have heard of or even thought about doing around your home—things that will reduce your carbon footprint in a significant way—like the following:

1. Choose Green Electricity for Your Home

Green electricity is obviously not something you pick up at the store, but you can get it through Bullfrog Power. Bullfrog Power is a Canadian company that can put renewable energy onto the power grid on your behalf in an easy and affordable way. They get electricity from clean, green sources like wind and water (all of their sources come from within Canada!). Here is a short video to explain exactly how it works:

In a nut shell:

  • Once electricity is put on the grid, all the electrons are the same. What’s important is how these electrons are created—and this is something you can control.
  • When you choose renewable electricity with Bullfrog Power, you make sure that for every kWh of electricity you use, a kWh from a pollution-free, renewable source is produced and put on the grid on your behalf. Electrons from clean sources can’t be directed straight to your home.
  • By using Bullfrog Power, you displace energy from polluting sources on the grid and help green our energy systems.
  • You still pay your regular electricity bill, Bullfrog power is an additional charge each month.
  • The company is audited every year by Deloitte and has the support of leading environmental groups in Canada like WWF-Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation.
  • It's available to everyone whether you live in an apartment, condo, a single home or a town home. Click here to learn more about the options offered by Bullfrog Power.

Bullfrog Power has been putting green electricity into the grid on my behalf and while it is not something I can see, I know that the clean power being contributed is helping to create a better and cleaner future for my kids (and yours too!). To date, in Canada, 10,000+ homes and 1,200+ businesses are currently bullfrogpowered.

  Good to know: By signing up for Bullfrog Power, you help to fund new green energy projects across Canada. Bullfrog Power has already funded 60+ green projects across Canada—like solar panels on schools.

2. Purchase insulated curtains/drapes for the windows in your home

If you have drafty windows, the ideal thing to do is to replace them, but as you know, a project like that is not cheap! So until you can afford it, insulated drapes are a good option.

Insulated drapes will allow you to turn the thermostat down slightly during the colder months and turn up the thermostat slightly in the summer months. This results in you paying less for your heating and cooling bills. Saving money is always a good thing, right? Do some research online and go into a window covering store to speak with a specialist who can recommend some options for you. There are tons of stylish choices, so you won't be stuck with what you may be picturing in your head (long, thick, dusty, dark curtains!)

  Good to know: There is a science behind how the drapes are made, their colour, the materials they are made with and how pleats and folds work to keep the cold and heat out. They also need to be opened and closed at certain times of the day to be most effective, so be sure you get the right drapes for you by talking to an expert.

3. Lower the temperature of your hot water heater

If you've ever scalded yourself with hot tap water, that's a sign your water heater's temperature is set a touch too high. Lowering the temperature by just a few degrees can save you money and reduce your energy consumption. Check with your utility provider to find out the safest temperature you can go down to.

It's also important to keep your tank maintained and to have it replaced when needed to ensure it's always efficient.

  Good to know: If you have the option, get a tankless water heater installed (when we moved into our new home, we chose to go tankless). Tankless water heaters are more compact and use high-powered burners to quickly heat water as it is demanded (as opposed to water sitting in a tank having to be constantly heated to a certain temperature until it is ready to be used). Up front costs for a tankless water heater are higher, but it's an investment that will save you money over time.

4. Change furnace filters on schedule

Every home is different when it comes how often furnace filters need to be changed. Some need to be changed more often, some not as often.

Factors that affect the schedule are:

  • whether or not there are pets in the home
  • if the home is very dusty
  • if the home is in a construction area
  • if there are smokers in the home
  • the types of filters you buy
  • your furnace's manufacturer suggestions

A dirty filter reduces airflow and increases the energy needed by your furnace to operate properly. Having a clean furnace filter at all times ensures that your furnace is always running efficiently.

  Good to know: It's such an easy thing to forget, but it's recommended to change your furnace filter once a month to four times per year (depending on the factors listed above). To remember, go through your calendar and schedule in the days it should be changed. Also remember to keep your furnace properly maintained by having it serviced regularly. Read this article for more info on your furnace filter.

5. Reduce "Phantom loads"

The light on your TV or PVR that stays on after you turn it off, or putting your computer in sleep or hibernate mode are examples of a device consuming energy even though they are considered to be off (referred to as phantom loads). Even though they are "off," they are still partially on, sucking up power.

To avoid phantom loads, purchase smart power bars. These allow you to turn off the power completely at the source so power to these devices is cut off.

  Good to know: Rather than using a smart power bar for infrequently used electronics, just unplug them when they are not in use.

Making your home more energy-efficient starts with little steps but they can progress over time to some of the ideas listed above. Every little action, no matter how big or small, leads to a greener and cleaner world which all of our kids will appreciate!