Affordable Ways to Make Your House Healthier and Green
“It’s so expensive to do all the “green” things I want to do with my house!” While most of the greening things that get publicity are quite expensive such as solar panels, extra insulation or new windows, there are several things you can do that are affordable and easy. Here are just a few:
1. Paint with Low or Zero VOC paint. Cost: 20-50% more than conventional paint. “VOC” stands for Volatile Organic Compounds…which doesn’t sound like something I want in my house! Low- and No-VOC paint takes longer to dry (be especially careful about painting window sills and touching them with decor or window coverings), but doesn’t off gas. That means you’re not breathing in toxic chemicals when you walk into the room! VOCs are in many other products (several types of flooring/adhesives, upholstery fabrics, air fresheners, etc.), so the more you limit them from you house, the healthier you’ll be.
2. Change the filter(s) in your heating/cooling system. Cost: $4-$45+. Changing your filter regularly will help you in three ways. First, it will help your heating/cooling equipment to run more efficiently which prolongs the life of the system. It also saves energy (which saves you money) by not having to work so hard to push air through the system. Lastly, a clean filter does a better job of filtering out nasty stuff in the air you breathe. You don’t want to be breathing in allergens and dust from months ago, do you? It’s best to follow manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to the frequency at which you should change your filter, but it also depends on if you have pets, how much you use the system, etc. For an average household, I suggest changing filters once every two months. (More frequently if you have pets, allergies or if you use your system constantly.)
3. Use Compact Fluorescent or LED lightbulbs. Cost: CFL $7+; LED $25+. Incandescents are dead! Using more efficient bulbs simply saves energy which saves you money! Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have a longer life (up to 10x), but are more expensive. Do you want to use energy efficient bulbs but hate that it makes your room look blue like WalMart? Your bulbs are too cool! Look for warmer bulbs- 2500K color temperature or lower. The higher the color temperature number, the more blue and stark the light is. A lower “K” number is better here.
4. Get a free Water Conservation Kit from Portland Water Bureau. Did I mention this is free? You can customize your kit to fit your needs or just order the whole shebang if you’re in the Portland area: call 503-823-4527 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Install a programmable thermostat. Cost: $35+. It doesn’t have to be fancy. as long as you can set the temperature to be different at different times of day and for different days of the week, you’ll save money and time by not babysitting the temperature. Don’t worry- you can always override the programmed temperature. A new thermostat may seem complicated, but it’s really quite simple- there are rarely more than 4 buttons to deal with and once you set it, you can forget it. Cheers to a healthier house!