As DIYers, we love to build, tinker and fix things. Here are
five things you can do to make your everyday DIY efforts greener. They can save
you money, make your home more energy-efficient and/or make your home healthier
and more comfortable.
1. Choose low- or zero-VOC paint
Improve the air quality of your home with
low- and zero-VOC paints.
That "new paint smell" of traditional paints is really
VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These chemicals off-gas (vaporize) into the
air and can cause short- and long-term adverse health effects. The good news is
that most major paint manufacturers offer low- and zero-VOC finishing options
now, and the quality has improved tremendously over the past few years.
2. Kill energy vampires
Turn off electronics when they're not in use.
According to the Department of Energy, 75
percent of the electrical use by home electronics occurs when they're turned
off. These "energy vampires" suck electricity all day long—costing you an extra
$100 each year. Unplug your electronics or plug them into a power strip, then
turn off the strip. There are also "smart strips," which can shut off power to
electronic devices that aren't being used.
3. Install smarter
Motion sensors turn lights on and off, which saves money and energy.
(occupancy sensors) automatically turn lights on and off so you only get (and
pay for!) light when you need it. Using motion sensors in the garage, outside
and around the house can save you up to $100 annually in electricity costs.
They're convenient in areas like the laundry room when reaching for a light
switch is difficult with your hands full.
4. Build with salvaged construction materials
Recycle, reuse and reclaim building materials.
Use reclaimed building materials in your home
projects. It's a great way to save money and you'll prevent useful items from
going to a landfill. Many communities have local ReUse Centers, and you can
also check salvage yards and your local Craig's List. Helpful Web sites include
build.recycle.net and freecycle.org.
5. Go low-flow
This water-efficient showerhead from Delta uses 36 percent less water but delivers what feels like a standard 2.5-gpm flow. (Photo courtesy of Delta.)
Showerheads are not only the
second heaviest water user (after toilets) but also a major energy eater.
That's because 70 percent of the water flowing through the head comes from your
water heater. Switching to a low-flow head means you'll reduce water
consumption and water heating. And new efficient showerheads change the shape
and velocity of the water stream—even the size of the drops—to provide the
high-flow feel using just 1.6 gpm.
— Elisa Bernick, Associate Editor