If you’ve recently purchased a home and you’re starting to think of all the responsibilities that come with being a homeowner, you might be wondering what you can do to reduce your newly acquired property’s impact on the environment. The annual carbon footprint of your home is defined as the total amount of carbon that the home is responsible for releasing into the atmosphere during a 12-month period, both directly and indirectly.
Now, apart from using a fireplace or your oven/stove, the amount of carbon being directly released by your home will not be significant. It’s all of the services, utilities, and resources that are consumed by the home’s inhabitants which combine to create the majority of the footprint. So, those are the areas that need to be worked on. Along those lines, here are 7 ways to set your new home up for the lowest-possible carbon footprint.
1. Install Solar Panels
One city where you can see an example of widespread solar adoption is San Jose, where a city-funded Sustainability Plan has created mandates that are pushing local businesses and residents to strive towards a solar-powered future. According to Semper Solaris, the top solar company in San Jose, many of the area’s homeowners have been able to completely neutralize their carbon footprint through a multi-faceted approach, starting with a home solar installation. As a leading provider of solar in San Jose, Semper Solaris has seen first-hand the positive economic and environmental impacts that solar power can have. Residents of Southern California can find solar panel systems and installation services on their website at SemperSolaris.com.
Solar panels provide the cleanest method of electricity generation and are often the only feasible way for a home to generate its own free and renewable energy – aside from installing wind turbines, which are only suitable for large properties that receive substantial wind speeds. Since energy is one of the most commonly used residential resources, finding ways to reduce or eliminate your dependency on grid-supplied, non-renewable energy is one of the most effective ways to give your home a lower carbon footprint.
2. Reduce Artificial Lighting Dependency
Even if you have a solar panel system, you still don’t want to use more electricity than you have to, particularly when it also involves using up light bulbs. By making your light bulbs last longer, you’re reducing the amount of pollution that goes into the dump. If you don’t have a solar panel system, limiting your dependency on artificial lighting will be especially effective in reducing your home’s carbon footprint because you’ll be reducing your grid-supplied power consumption.
Since the majority of the power that flows through the grid is not produced by renewable energy, you’re directly raising your home’s carbon footprint when you use more electricity, and lighting is one aspect to address. Adding skylights, extra windows, and more transparent curtains can help you bring in more sunlight and reduce your dependency on artificial lighting.
3. Install Smart Showerheads and Faucets
Water is another commonly used natural resource in most homes, so it makes sense to reduce your water usage as well. How does that reduce your home’s carbon footprint, you ask? Every water treatment plant and utility provider will use a certain amount of electricity to pump and purify every gallon of water that flows through your home, and most of those utility providers are using non-renewable energy to make all of those processes happen.
Smart showerheads and faucets strategically and precisely dispense water to let you bathe and wash your hands in a way that uses the lowest amount of water possible. Some of these devices can also be controlled by apps to accommodate user preferences related to stream type, water pressure, and temperature.
4. Get a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats do for your HVAC system what smart showerheads do for your shower – they optimize the amount of energy used to heat and cool your home. While automated thermostats that maintain a set temperature within the home are nothing new, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely via an app and are also programmed with algorithms that allow for automated adjustments within various energy-preserving modes selected by the user.
Smart thermostats are particularly useful for reducing your carbon footprint if you don’t have a solar panel setup. However, even if you do, they’re still a worthwhile addition to any smart home due to the convenience that they add. Plus, a home solar panel system can be routed back into the grid to supply power to local utility providers, thereby providing the homeowner with a monthly profit in exchange for their surplus power. So, optimizing the energy usage of your HVAC system or any other part of your home would also slightly boost the check you receive from the utility company for the surplus power you’re supplying.
5. Ensure Optimal Insulation and Weatherization
Upgrading your home’s insulation or having it professionally inspected and weatherized is another step you can take to reduce the burden on your HVAC system and lower your electricity usage or increase your surplus power dividends.
This is a very straightforward process that involves contacting local weatherization or HVAC specialists. The good news is that many of those companies will also perform solar installations. For example, the aforementioned San Jose-based Semper Solaris provides solar, HVAC, and roofing services throughout Southern California.
6. Join the No-Mow Movement
The “no-mow” movement consists of a growing portion of the population who have opted to no longer grow and mow real grass lawns. The name comes from a slang version of “no more” (pronounced as “no mo”) and the double-meaning becomes clear (and slightly comical) when you envision a group of protesters with signs chanting “No mo lawns, no mo lawns.”
So, is not having a lawn really a serious way to reduce your home’s carbon footprint? Well, when you consider the fact that you’ll no longer be putting gas in a lawnmower, that alone is enough to give it a carbon-reducing impact, not to mention the millions of dollars and megawatts of energy consumed by the fertilizer and lawncare industries.
7. Get a Home EV Charger
Getting a home EV charger helps you reduce your personal carbon footprint while you’re at home, hence its inclusion on this list. Of course, this is only an applicable suggestion if you already have an electric vehicle or are legitimately preparing to buy one in the near future, which is why it’s also last on this list. Nonetheless, it’s a worthy addition to any eco-friendly home and every EV owner should have one as a matter of convenience.
Don’t Forget to Plant Some Vegetation on Your Property!
Planting various forms of vegetation such as bushes, trees, and plants on your property will not only improve the aesthetic value of your home’s exterior, it will also give the planet a tiny boost in oxygen-producing greenery. While recent discoveries indicate the forest biomasses as a whole are nearly carbon neutral – they consume a little more carbon than they generate – trees do have a net positive impact on the environment and are essential in any strategy for fighting climate change and curbing carbon emissions.
This is a particularly useful tip if you own a large property, as some people have successfully planted entire forests on their properties. Of course, establishing a bustling ecosystem on your estate will also create an instantly noticeable improvement in your surrounding environment while also helping the Earth as a whole.