Sustainable living means living with little to no impact on the environment.
That may sound intimidating but the right information can guide you and sustainable living is imminently doable.
In fact, practical ways to live sustainably starts in our own backyards, according to contractor Francisco T. Sakay, who is also an architect.
1. Start with light bulbs.
“Change the light bulbs in your house. Use LED, if possible. The other option is using bulbs with compact florescent light because it uses 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs,” Sakay said.
According to bulbs.com, LED lighting features long operational lifetime expectations and provides much better energy efficiency.
If you use traditional lighting and have an electricity bill of, say, $100, then $80 of that has been used to heat the room and not to light it. Using LED illumination with 80 percent efficiency, the electricity costs would be around $20 and you would’ve saved around $80.
On the other hand, compact fluorescent lights use roughly a fourth as much energy as incandescent bulbs. This means that you can light a 60-watt fixture using as little as 13 watts of electricity. Lighting accounts for about 15 percent of total residential energy consumption in the U.S., and 23 percent of commercial consumption, so making some updates can really reduce your energy consumption in a meaningful way.
2. Use fans, not the A/C.
“Use fans for cooling… reduce use of air conditioning,” Sakay said.
According to homeguides.com, running a fan will always be a lot cheaper and energy efficient than using the A/C.
A 2.5-ton central air conditioner uses about 3,500 watts and a window A/C unit typically uses between 500 to 1,500 watts, while a ceiling fan uses only 15 to 95 watts depending on its size and speed. That’s a whopping 99 percent decrease in cooling costs when you use ceiling fans instead of air conditioners.
3. Use trees to cool down your home.
“Plant trees. …Trees around your house can lower the energy bill by reducing exposure to the sun,” Sakay said.
According to canopy.org, trees also serve public health benefits by cleaning the air we breathe. Trees produce oxygen, intercept airborne particulates, and reduce smog, enhancing a community’s respiratory health. The urban canopy directly contributes to meeting a city’s regulatory clean air requirements.
Access to trees, green spaces, and parks promotes greater physical activity, and reduces stress, while improving the quality of life in cities and towns.
Trees also serve environmental benefits. Trees sequester carbon, reducing the overall concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
A tree is a natural air conditioner. The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room-size, residential air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
Tree windbreaks can reduce residential heating costs 10-15 percent, while shading and evaporative cooling from trees can cut residential air-conditioning costs by 20-50 percent.
4. Conserve water.
“Use less hot water…take fast showers and be conscious of the water you use when washing dishes, food preparation, or even brushing your teeth.” Sakay said.
According to isustainableearth.com, using less water keeps money in your pocket. By utilizing basic water conservation techniques, you are able to save thousands of gallons of water each year. You do the math, use less water and the water company charges you less money. That sounds like a good deal all around.
5. Unplug appliances when not in use.
“Even if your appliances are off they still consume energy if plugged. They call it phantom load,” Sakay said.
According to greenliving.com, phantom power or vampire power is the energy used by appliances and electronics when they are turned off but are still plugged in to a power outlet.
You can reduce your electricity bills by as much as 10 percent simply by unplugging appliances or switching devices off at the power point they are connected to when not in use. It’s good for your wallet and for our planet.