There’s a common misconception that making a home eco-friendly means investing in huge renovations and installing things like expensive solar panels. In reality, the key to creating an eco-friendly home is making a series of small changes over time.

While you might choose to invest in green architecture in the future, there are plenty of affordable changes you can make now. Here are six tips for making your home more eco-friendly without stressing your mind or your budget.

Conduct Routine Maintenance

Conducting routine maintenance on your home’s core systems will keep everything running efficiently. As such, your furnace, air conditioner, dishwasher and other appliances won’t have to work as hard to do what they’re supposed to. This means that they’ll consume less energy and last longer, mitigating your consumption on several levels.

According to the experts at Morris Jenkins, scheduling annual inspections and tune-ups is an effective way to save money and prevent costly repairs. Create a reminder at each change of season to have an expert inspect your systems to keep them running efficiently.

It’s also beneficial to create a seasonal checklist for things like cleaning the gutters, replacing missing shingles, tightening pipes and faucets, and checking for drafts.

Monitor Water Consumption

Cutting back on your water consumption is one of the best ways to make your home (and lifestyle) more eco-friendly. Start with some habit changes and goals, such as taking shorter showers, turning the water off when you brush your teeth and ensuring your dishwasher and laundry machine are full before running them.

To make lasting changes to your water consumption, replace outdated appliances with Energy Star upgrades. You can also swap out faucets and toilets with low-flow alternatives to dramatically reduce your home’s water consumption.

Eliminate Phantom Energy Use

Many people are surprised to discover that their appliances and devices still consume energy even when they aren’t in use. This phenomenon is known as phantom energy use and is driving up your power bill.

The best way to eliminate phantom energy consumption is to unplug phone chargers, televisions, and small appliances when they aren’t being used. You can also use power strips to simplify your efforts, turning off multiple appliances with the click of a button.

Use Sustainable Gardening Techniques

Most people view gardening as an eco-friendly hobby, but that’s not always the case. In fact, there are several ways that gardening can negatively impact the environment rather than help it.

Improve your garden’s eco-friendliness by planting native plants that are meant for your zone. Endemic plant life will require less maintenance to thrive, which naturally cuts back on consumption. Install a rainwater harvesting kit and use recycled water to keep your garden hydrated. Finally, avoid using chemical treatments and create a compost to nourish your garden instead.

Turn Down the Water Heater

Turning down the water heater (and thermostat) by a few degrees will yield a big difference in your consumption. You should also consider using cold water for your laundry for another dramatic reduction in energy use.

If your water heater is due for an upgrade, consider swapping it out for an on-demand or tankless water heater. This small, wall-mounted device heats water when you need it, rather than working hard to keep water warm all day long.

Use Residual Heat

Finally, take advantage of the residual heat from your oven during the colder months. When you’re done cooking, leave the oven door open for a while as it cools off. The heat from your oven will disperse into your home, putting less stress on your furnace. Make this approach even more effective by using fans to distribute the air.

With these simple tips, you can make your home more eco-friendly. Not only will these small habit changes make your home greener, but they’ll also make it more affordable to maintain.

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