green cleaning suppliesWhether it’s a deep forest green or a pale mint green, going green is important as a homeowner. Not enough people realize the benefits of transforming their homes into eco-friendly zones! Not only can green home improvements save time and money, but they can reduce carbon footprints and contribute to a cleaner and safer community for everyone.

If you’re looking to conserve energy, here are seven smart ways to be greener at home:

Replace Appliances with Energy Star-Rated Products

Consider replacing your washer, dryer, refrigerator and dishwasher with Energy Star-rated appliances. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star label applies to everything from air conditioners to televisions. The concept behind the label’s creation was to make it easier for homeowners to shop for energy-efficient products. According to journalist Judi Ketteler of GAIAM Life, Energy Star-rated appliances saved homeowners more than $239 billion on utility bills in 2012 alone. Energy Star-rated appliances can reduce energy usage by as much 50% in addition to reducing greenhouse gases and reducing water usage.

Choose Rubber Mulch

If you’re currently using natural mulch around your home, consider making the transition to mulch’s synthetic brother. When properly installed, green writer for Empire Today, Jonathon Ensor, claims rubber mulch can last up to 10 years. The longevity, coupled with minimal required maintenance, offsets the upfront cost of the product. Rubber mulch also does a fantastic job of choking out weeds and retaining soil moisture. Plus, with a variety of mulch colors to choose from, you really can’t go wrong!

Clean with Vinegar

If you haven’t jumped on this bandwagon yet, consider switching to vinegar to clean your home! A study from PLOS.org shows that vinegar kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold and 80% of viruses. In addition to being an effective and cheap cleanser, it’s an eco-friendly, non-toxic alternative to traditional cleaners. Reducing use of synthetic chemicals in your home is a healthier choice and better on the environment when it comes to disposal.

Buy Vinyl Flooring

When it comes to green flooring options, it’s hard to beat vinyl, Ensor says. The materials are deceptively easier on the environment than other popular flooring options. Vinyl floors that have been properly installed are extra durable, highly water-resistant and perfect for high-traffic areas. Modern sheet-vinyl styles include hardwood, tile and stone — all fresh enough for any home upgrade!

Do Fuller Loads of Laundry

Maximize efficiency and avoid running half-full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher. Even when you run a machine with small load settings, the machine still uses most of the water and most of the energy required for a full load. Data from the U.S. Department of Energy claims a typical household can save 3,400 gallons of water a year by running full laundry loads instead of half loads.

Opt for Thermal Drapes

If you’ve got drafty windows, the thought (and cost) of getting your windows redone can be enough to make you cry. Ensor suggests saving your tears and opting for thermal drapes, which offer insulation-based benefits during every season. In the winter, open the drapes during the day to let in solar heat and close them at night to conserve energy. During the summer, Ensor suggests doing the opposite. This isn’t a perfect substitute for new windows, but Ensor says it’ll make a noticeable difference in your energy bills.

Repair Drippy Faucets

Did you know a drippy faucet can run at the rate of one drop per second? This means you could be wasting 2,700 gallons of water each year! Verify that your home is leak free, because many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter reading changes, then there’s likely a leak. Also check for toilet tank leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, the color should leak out within 30 minutes.

When you put your mind to it and do a little research, it’s easy to find small and valuable ways to make your home greener. You may think your environmental impact is small, but you have a major influence on your neighbors and close friends! If you’ve already made some eco-friendly changes at home, please share your green ideas below!

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