Living Green

Ways to make your home greener

If you are building a brand-new home from the ground up, you can build green energy into its design. But what if you love your home but hate the wasted energy it requires? No matter where you live or what kind of home you own, there are always things you can do to go greener and save energy. Here are a few things you can do to make your existing home even greener.

Compost banana peels for your garden

Healthy Habit is one of many responsible local restaurants that composts the organic
materials it uses. Here is the process they use to compost banana peels.

Step 1: Place banana peel in oven at 225 degrees for 45 minutes. Banana peel should
be completely dry and “crispy.” It should have a snap like a potato chip.
Step 2: Place oven-dried banana peels in a high power blender and blend until it turns into a powder.
Step 3: Remove from blender and use as compost with your soil in your garden!

Consider solar power

Solar energy has emerged as the smart choice for homeowners looking to reduce and control their electricity costs while doing the right thing for the environment. While for many years, the initial cost of solar was out of reach for a lot of people, today’s homeowner can install a complete solar energy system with little to no money down, and monthly payments could be less than your current electric bill.

How it works
1. Solar panels convert sunlight into Direct Current (DC) electricity.
2. An inverter then changes the DC to Alternating Current (AC) electricity.
3. The AC is then connected to your home’s existing electrical system for you to use.
Source: Hilton Head Solar

Take advantage of natural light and free cooling

Opening the curtains on a cold day can flood your home with sunshine and reduce the need for extra heat. When it is hot, opening the windows will let the cool breeze flow in, so you can turn off the AC and enjoy natural comfort.

Maximize your fans: If using a ceiling fan, make sure the direction is changed to counterclockwise in the summer. If using a box or pedestal fan, placing a bowl of ice-cold water in front of it will create a chilly breeze. Also, don’t forget to turn on your bathroom fan when you shower.

Update your light bulbs

You might not think something as
simple as a light bulb could make a difference, but it can. Replacing your old light bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs could save you hundreds of dollars, all while helping the environment.

Did you know?
The average LED lasts 50,000 operating hours to 100,000 operating hours or more. It is more than 40 times as long as the average incandescent bulb.

Replace your worst windows

If the cost of a full window replacement is just too daunting, focus on your most energy inefficient windows instead. You can use the energy savings to finance the cost of the next replacement until all your old windows have been replaced.

Old: Single-pane windows are often the source of up to 70 percent of your home’s heat loss.
New: Energy-efficient replacement windows are designed specifically to keep heat in or out, depending on the season.

Create a low-flow bathroom

If you are renovating your bathroom, installing a low-flow toilet and a water-efficient showerhead can save you money and make your home greener. Also, ferret out leaks. Even a small water leak could waste thousands of gallons a year, running up your utility bills and harming the environment. So do some detective work, grab your wrench and fix those leaks once and for all.

What to look for
Toilets that use less than one gallon of water per flush.
Faucets that operate at less than 1.5 gallons-per-minute.

Replace your chemical cleansers

You can make your own home cleaning supplies for far less, and reduce environmental damage in the process. Vinegar makes a great natural cleanser, and there are plenty of DIY recipes online.

All Purpose Cleaner

1 teaspoon borax
1/2 teaspoon washing soda
1 teaspoon liquid castile soap
Essential oils of choice (consider 4 drops lemon, 4 drops lavender, and 10 drops orange)
Glass spray bottle for storage

Directions [1] Place borax, washing soda, and soap in a spray bottle (preferably glass). [2] Add 2 cups of warm water. Distilled is best, but any water that has been boiled will work. [3] Add essential oils of choice. [4] Cover bottle and shake well. Use as needed. Works great as a bathroom cleaner, kitchen cleaner and on toys.

Adjust the thermostat

Simply turning the thermostat up a few degrees in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter could save you hundreds of dollars a year. Purchase a programmable thermostat and try following these money-saving settings.

You are awake: 68 degrees
You are sleeping: 65 degrees
You are away: 60 degrees

You are awake: 73 degrees
You are sleeping: 70 degrees
You are away: 78 degrees

Small steps in the kitchen can have a big impact

Cut, scrape, trash; chop, scrape, trash; trim, scrape, trash, repeat. Stop! We are throwing away the best part (and money) of our vegetables, not to mention the wonderful benefits stored in the bones of meat, fish and chicken. It’s not an easy goal, but what worthwhile goal ever is? Dedication to a greener lifestyle begins with a few small steps:

Living green begins in the kitchen and backyard. Embrace the compost pile — start saving all food scraps to create a compost pile. The internet has wonder ideas to launch you into compost heaven, large or small, DIY and even pre-fab compost containers.

Going green means saving $green$ at the grocery store.

Think whole: Start buying everything whole — whole chickens, fish and vegetables. Learn to break down these ingredients into usable portions and what you can’t use goes into the compost.

Think bones: Bones make wonderful stock or broth. Trending is “Bone Broth” which is just stock, renamed. Again, the internet can provide wonderful easy recipes. Extra bonus is this practice cuts down on waste, fuel and packaging.

Always keep a scrap container in the freezer: Fill it with vegetable scraps and skins (onion, potato, celery, carrot, peppers), fish and chicken bones. When you have enough, make a stock and use the stock for soups or sauces. Freeze some in ice cube trays or small jars for future meals and sauces. Use reusable jars to store items instead of plastic storage bags or plastic wrap.

Cook in bulk: If you’re making a dish, make it twice as much and freeze half for another day. It’s not twice the effort, but it’s half the prep time and saves in gas/water/electricity and fewer trips to the grocery store for last-minute dinners.

Don’t buy canned legumes: Need black beans for a soup or dip? Buy dried. They are not only cheaper, they provide more flavor. They need to be soaked overnight in four times the water, and you’re not adding aluminum cans to the garbage pile.

Most importantly, buy in season and if possible, local: Not only will the food taste better (it’s fresher and hasn’t traveled far), it’s cheaper and doesn’t leave the carbon footprint due to the fossil fuels left from food transport trucks, trains and ships. Occasionally, you might have to be creative using kale instead of romaine for your salad in winter.

– Eric Sayers, executive chef at The Cypress of Hilton Head

You don’t have to live like a hermit to enjoy a greener lifestyle. With a few simple changes, you can make the home you already live in cleaner, greener and more energy efficient, all while reducing your energy costs.