Canada's Condominium Magazine
The global shift toward green energy and eco-friendly products, materials, etc. is having a tremendous impact, and it is easy to get caught up in that and want to make dramatic changes all at once. Unfortunately, that is not always feasible with rising costs of living and other expenses. Plus, organic materials are costly, and major changes in appliances and utilities can be expensive. However, we do not have to change every aspect of our lives all at once. Taking things slowly can make it much more affordable and less overwhelming.
Start with energy-saving changes, such as caulking the windows and putting up a Nest or other programmable thermostat that allows you to check and control your home’s temperature remotely. It will learn as it goes, adapting to your preferences and schedule, and you can program it to turn off whenever you are away.
Invest in energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances (you can change these out one at a time, if necessary). Make sure that you are unplugging small appliances, cell phone chargers, etc. when they are not in use. Even when they are turned off, they are still absorbing electricity. Although they only use a small percentage of electricity when turned off, that small amount multiplied by many different electronics over time can amount to a great deal of electricity (and money). You can use the Kill A Watt meter to find out exactly how much electricity is being wasted by electronics on standby mode.
Once you have accomplished the basics, move through your condo, one room at a time until you have accomplished your entire list. Regardless of how long it takes to finish the whole project, the important thing is to get started because every little bit helps.
Ready to Go Room-to-Room, But Where to Begin?
Start from the Beginning: The Entryway
I recommend starting with the entryway. After all, it is the first thing you and guests see when walking through the front door. Reorganize your entryway and spruce it up. Place a tray of pebbles near the door to hold shoes and boots. Bring the outdoors in with some plants. This eases the transition from outside to inside, making your home feel less closed-in. It also reduces inside temperatures.
The living room may be your starting point if you do not have an entryway. The main thing is to start with the first thing you see when you walk through the door. If you work your way from front to back, then you will be more aware of the changes, feel more accomplished, and be less likely to give up on the project (which can happen when we do not feel that our efforts are amounting to anything). It can also be helpful to keep a list of tasks and mark them off as you go.
The Living Room
If you have carpet, be sure to vacuum often. Carpets are made of fibers, which attract dust particles, dust, mold, pet dander, etc. This can be detrimental to your health and your environment. Invest in a HEPA filter as well, as it can remove 99 per cent of allergens and dust particles. If you have plans to renovate, consider replacing your carpet with wood floors.
Take on some DIY projects. Make custom shelving using wood made from renewable resources, bamboo, cork, etc. This can add a personal touch to your home while also cutting down on clutter and products made from nonrenewable resources. Broken lights, appliances, and pipes should be repaired quickly to avoid waste and damage. The building manager or owner will likely be responsible for any repairs.
Replacing your refrigerator can go a long way in reducing your carbon footprint. Refrigerators typically generate 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Make sure it has a good EnerGuide rating, as that will ensure that it is energy-efficient. As with lighting and electronics, you will want to keep up on maintenance and repairs to eliminate waste and further damage from prolonged issues. Replace your other appliances, such as your dishwasher, as well. Energy-efficient appliances use approximately one-third less water, so choose one with an energy star rating.
Use organic produce and other organic products, which are grown without the use of pesticides, which are harmful to your health as well as the environment. Carrying reusable shopping bags and travel cups is also a smart option, as it eliminates waste. Spruce up your kitchen with a small herb garden, where you can grow the herbs and spices that you use most.
Be sure to turn water off quickly when it is no longer being used, and check frequently for any necessary repairs. Leaks, broken pipes, etc. should be fixed immediately to avoid damage and waste. A drip, if not promptly repaired, can amount to 55 liters per day and over 20,000 liters per year. Install low-flow showerheads as well, as they can save 15 liters of water or more per minute. Invest in eco-friendly towels, such as bamboo and hemp, which are natural and mildew-resistant.
The Laundry Room
This room is similar to the kitchen, where you will want to replace your washing machine and dryer with energy-efficient models. Another option could be to install a retractable clothesline on your balcony so clothes can be dried in the sun rather than wasting extra electricity powering a dryers. Otherwise, energy-efficient dryers can reduce electricity use with various settings for optimal use. Look for biodegradable detergent that is made from plant-based rather than petroleum-based ingredients. These detergents are better for your health and better for the environment. They also do not cause rashes and other side effects.
Use fabrics with natural fibers instead of synthetic materials. Hypo-allergenic pillows are a fantastic option. Avoid mattresses that contain harmful glues, pesticides, and flame retardants. Instead, choose those with natural fibers, which have built-in protective properties. They also attract fewer dust mites and bacteria.
Turn your patio into a private oasis with native plants and flowers, and use an odourless composter. Native plants typically require less watering and maintenance, as they thrive in local conditions. Try your hand at container agriculture and collect rain water to water your plants. You can also make your own natural pest control using organic ingredients.