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Easy Changes Every Homeowner Should Make to Protect the Earth

Small changes can be a big help to the environment.

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shutterstock_517898209 shopping for led light bulbsl i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock

Upgrade to LED

It’s time to give your lighting an upgrade. While LED bulbs may cost you a little more upfront, the bulbs use 75 percent less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. That means you’ll spend less on your electric bill and fewer bulbs will end up in landfills.

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shutterstock_478170754 solar panel roof energyguentermanaus/Shutterstock

Explore Solar

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, explore solar options. Solar panels may be cheaper than you think and you may qualify for tax credits if you install rooftop solar panels on your home. Depending on your home’s solar productivity, you may even be able to add clean power to the power grid. Plus: Check out online classes for solar projects, growing your own food and much more at DIY University.

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shutterstock_707335804 native plantsDorothy Chiron/Shutterstock

Go Native

Adding native plants and trees to your landscaping is a smart move since native landscaping is low maintenance, meaning you’ll use less water for irrigation and native plants don’t generally require the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Native plants also help local wildlife and insects thrive.

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shutterstock_420977155 rechargeable recyclable batteriesMaxx-Studio/Shutterstock

Make Smart Purchases

When buying items for your sustainable home, choose wisely. For instance, choose rechargeable batteries which will limit the amount of waste that can’t be recycled. Reach for washable napkins instead of paper and look for biodegradable trash bags. Use reusable food containers for leftovers instead of plastic bags.

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shutterstock_686242249 compost vegetablesimray/Shutterstock

Compost

Put those produce scraps and yard waste to good use and start a compost pile! Not only will you keep items out of the landfill, you can create a rich soil that will help your vegetable garden and flowers. You’ll need both green and brown items for your compost, so think vegetable scraps, egg shells, leaves and coffee grounds.

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shutterstock_363811 fix leaky pipes bathroom sinkLisa F. Young/Shutterstock

Fix Leaky Pipes

If you have leaky pipes or faucets in your sustainable home, you’re wasting water. In fact, if your faucet dripped once every second of the day, it would take just over four hours to reach one gallon. Take a few minutes to make sure the pipes and faucets in your home aren’t dripping.

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shutterstock_503898127 recycle bin garbage canAleksandra Suzi/Shutterstock

Reuse and Recycle

Reduce the amount of waste your home sends to the landfill and recycle and reuse items whenever you can. For instance, try repairing that broken dining chair instead of tossing it. Make a recycling bin for items such as cardboard, plastic and cans.

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shutterstock_79153633 low flow shower headDmitry Bruskov/Shutterstock

Switch to Low-Flow

The average family uses 40 gallons of water a day just in showering, according to EPA.gov. for a more sustainable home, upgrade to a low-flow showerhead which will use no more than 2 gallons of water per minute. Keep showers to five minutes or fewer to reduce your home’s water consumption even more.

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FH10APR_507_05_004 sustainable home collect rain water binsFamily Handyman

Collect Rainwater

For less than $100, you can build your own rain barrel and start collecting rainwater. Use the water in your vegetable and flower gardens. Since rainwater is naturally devoid of chemicals, it’s perfect for your lawn, gardens and potted plants.

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shutterstock_430417003 window treatments curtains lightSyda Productions/Shutterstock

Add Window Treatments

Curtains and blinds not only add to your decor, they help save energy. Look for window treatments that can help prevent heat loss in winter and help keep your home cool in the summer. Caulk and weather stripping around the windows can also help reduce air leakage.

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Solar water heaterFamily Handyman

Heat up with Solar

You can take things a step further by trading in your water heater for a solar-powered water heater to reduce your energy consumption needs. The solar-powered water heaters become more cost-effective in recent years. Find out how to install a solar water heater.

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GardenFamily Handyman

Grow Your Food in a Garden

Buying produce at the grocery store can add up depending on the items you purchase. But if you start a garden of your own, you can harvest produce cheaply each year. A well-maintained food garden can produce ½ pound of produce per square foot per growing season, according to the National Gardening Association. A 600-square foot garden could produce 300 pounds of fresh produce and save $600 a year, according to the NGA.

Find out how to start a garden in your home.

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Rain GardenFamily Handyman

Add a Rain Garden

Building a rain garden at your home has a two-fold benefit. One, it protects streams, rivers and lakes from polluted runoff. Two, it can help keep water out of your basement and eliminate muddy puddles in your yard.

It’s recommended to use native grasses for your rain garden and plants with deep roots. It’s also possible to help pollinators with your rain garden by including plants like aster. Goldenrod and milkweed are also viable options. Check with local garden centers to find the best native grasses that are pollinator friendly as well.

Build a rain garden for your home with a few suggestions.

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runoff waterFamily Handyman

Reduce Runoff

Prevent water runoff by paying attention to your yard drainage. There are several options to achieve better drainage and limit the impact of water runoff around your home and local waterways. Find out how to build a creek bed as one way to address runoff.

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Retaining wallFamily Handyman

Cut Erosion

Erosion has a significant impact on waterways and one way to prevent erosion at your home is by building a retaining wall. A retaining wall helps in flood prevention as well as prevents sink holes from forming. Build a retaining wall at your home in a few steps.

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wildflowers lavenderSubbotina Anna/Shutterstock

Prop Up Pollinators

Help protect pollinators like butterflies and biodiversity by planting pollinator-friendly plants like milkweed around your home. Learn more about which plants to use to start a pollinator friendly yard.

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cover plantsAZ Plant Lady

Cover the Ground with Cover Plants

Cover plants are another easy way to reduce flooding, help reduce erosion and aid in decreasing polluted stormwater runoff. Find out about some succulents that make for productive cover plants and attractive plants around the house.

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water meterspaxiax/Shutterstock

Watch Your Water Use

Water is being polluted faster than it can be recycled and reused, according to the UN. You want to reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation and there are some effective ways to do so. Check out these 10 ways to save water at home to learn more.

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geothermalFamily Handyman

Go with Geothermal

Reduce your carbon footprint by switching to geothermal energy to heat your home. Energy accounts for around 60 percent of global greenhouse emissions, according to the UN and it wants to expand the use of sustainable energy sources. Geothermal energy might be one of them. Learn the things you need to know about geothermal energy before making the jump.

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Electricity surge protectorFamily Handyman

Eliminate Electricity Costs

The upfront costs of switching to solar or geothermal energy might be too much to bear but there are several other ways to reduce your energy bill around the home. Try buying energy-efficient appliances or start plugging electronics into a power strip that can be turned on and off easily to reduce electricity use. Find ways to save on energy costs at home with these tips.

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Junk Get RidFamily Handyman

Reduce Refuse

Not everything that you scrap needs to land in the landfill. There are ways to get rid of unwanted objects without the pickup fees or the impact on waste facilities. Do your part by turning scrap wood into mulch. Check out create ways to get rid of scrap here.

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Homemade All-Purpose CleanerM. Show/shutterstock

Clean up with Cleaner Materials

There are some simple homemade remedies to clean things around the house without using conventional cleaning supplies. Make homemade cleaning supplies with some simple ideas.