Start Your Year with Solar – 10 Ways to Go Green in 2016


10 Ways to Go Green in 2016
Image by Photophilde, CC 2.0

The new year is the ideal time to embrace sustainable living habits that are good for Mother Earth — and your budget. Here are 10 easy and effective ways to go green in 2016.

1. Audit your energy use.

The first step to saving energy is finding out where you are wasting energy. An energy audit can help you reduce your carbon footprint and save up to 30 percent on your utility bill. Contact your power company and ask an auditor to evaluate your home and provide you with ways to minimize your energy consumption. Then use an energy efficiency app to monitor your utility use and gain additional insights.

2. Unplug electronics.

Many appliances and electronics continue to draw power even when they are turned off: TVs, computers, and game consoles, for example, are major “energy vampires.” Unplug electronics when they are not in use, or plug them into a UL-certified power strip and switch the strip off when the electronics are not in use.

3. Consider solar power.

The average U.S. household generates over 12 tons of carbon dioxide, the majority of which is due to electrical use. Solar panels are an economical way to reduce your carbon footprint, lower your electric bill, and increase your home’s value.

4. Buy local.

Most produce travels an average of over 1,000 miles from the farm to your local grocery store before reaching your plate. Help reduce carbon emissions (and enjoy fresher produce) by purchasing fruits and vegetables grown closer to home. Search LocalHarvest and Eat Well Guide to find farmers and restaurants that offer locally grown, sustainably produced foods.

5. Plant trees and shrubs.

Adding greenery to your landscape does more than boost your home’s curb appeal — it can also help conserve energy and reduce your heating and cooling costs. Plant deciduous shade trees and evergreen shrubs strategically around your home to maximize shade during summer months and provide protection from harsh winds throughout winter.

6. Switch to green cleaners.

The manufacturing and disposal of chemical-based cleaning products can contribute to environmental pollution and their use can be harmful to your health. Buy nontoxic, environmentally responsible cleaning alternatives or learn how to make your own.

7. Conserve water.

According to the Government Accountability Office, water managers in 40 states expect water shortages in some region of their state over the next decade. Help conserve this precious natural resource by fixing your home’s dripping faucets and installing low flow water fixtures.

8. Mow the lawn less.

Taller grass requires less watering, so use a higher setting on your lawn mower to help minimize evaporation and improve hydration. For a natural fertilizer, leave clippings on the lawn after you mow. This minimizes the amount of yard waste sent to your local landfill and adds nitrogen to the soil, which improves the look of your lawn without harmful fertilizers and herbicides.

9. Give up your bottled water habit.

The average household of four can save about $3,000 per year by saying so long to bottled water. Install a faucet-mounted water filter or purchase a water filter pitcher and supply each family member with a reusable BPA-free bottle.

10. Stop commuting solo.

Burning one gallon of gas creates about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. To reduce your environmental impact, carpool to work, use mass transit, or pedal your way to the office. Better yet, consider telecommuting.

From embracing solar energy to buying local, we’ve given you a variety of ways to make 2016 your greenest year yet. Which tip are you going to try first?

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