How to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

By Lesley Green
A young boy is looking at the seedlings that he's planted and that are starting to grow.

Earth Day is April 22

What goes on outside your window can have a big impact on what happens inside your home. Severe weather, like high winds and heavy rains, can cause considerable damage forcing you to turn to your home insurance for help in covering the costs of repairs.

But have you ever considered how the reverse may be true too? What happens inside and around your home may affect what happens outside your window.

What Canadians think of climate change

Most Canadians agree that climate change is real. A June 2020 survey of Canadians found that 87% of those polled believe global warming is factual, although thoughts on what causes it – human activities (64%) versus natural changes (23%) – differs.

Another poll, a global United Nations survey released in January, found 75% of Canadians believe climate change is an emergency. The survey also asked respondents where they feel their government should focus attention to address this emergency. The following are some Canadian-specific findings noted in the results:

  • 80% support policies to keep the ocean and waterways healthy
  • 79% support forest and land conservation efforts
  • 73% want to see more solar, wind, and renewable power initiatives
  • 73% support policies to reduce food waste
  • 69% support making businesses pay for their part in pollution
  • 68% want to see more investment in green jobs and technology
  • 67% want to see a focus on more clean electric cars and buses or bicycles
  • 66% support policies to reduce energy waste in homes, buildings, and factories

While the UN survey results speak specifically to efforts Canadians would like to see the government tackle, some can also translate into initiatives that individual homeowners can do as well.

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10 tips for an eco-friendlier home

  1. Dispose of household hazardous waste properly. Paint, paint thinners, motor oil, antifreeze, fuel, disinfectants, and anything else that could be toxic should never go down any pipe in your home. Ask your town or municipality about hazardous waste disposal options.
  2. Landscape your outdoor living space to minimize hard surfaces, so rainfall is absorbed into the ground rather than running off into the stormwater system. And, where possible, choose native plants and groundcovers to your region.
  3. When it comes to food, Love Food Hate Waste Canada (LFHWC) encourages you to plan it out, keep it fresh, and use it up. Before buying groceries, see what you already have on hand, create a meal plan, and write out your grocery list. Properly store food once purchased and revive (or repurpose) food that may be slightly past its prime. Finally, use it up if you don’t finish what you’ve made. LFHWC estimates that 63% of the food we throw away or compost could have been eaten. That’s about $1,100 a year per household.
  4. Part of keeping your food fresh includes making sure your refrigerator and freezer are working at optimal temperatures. BC Hydro says for your fridge, this is between 2 C and 3 C, and your freezer should be at -18 C.
  5. Whether it’s a refrigerator, freezer, or another household appliance, or perhaps it is new windows or doors for your home, look for products with the ENERGY STAR® symbol. These products are certified energy efficient.
  6. Green your commute. The David Suzuki Foundation says that transportation drives 24% of the country’s climate-polluting emissions. Where possible, ride a bike or walk. And, if you need to drive, the next time you go to buy a new vehicle, consider a battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, or hybrid vehicle.
  7. As we head into the summer season, use ceiling fans to your advantage. They help cool down your home, don’t use as much electricity and reduce the need for air conditioning. Also, use curtains to block the heat during the afternoon to keep the hot sun out.
  8. Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat can reduce heating and cooling costs by 10% per year.
  9. Ensure there isn’t any hot air leaking into your home (or cool air leaking out). Seal any cracks and openings as well as any leaky doors or windows.
  10. Wash your clothes in cold water, and instead of using your dryer all the time, try to hang dry your clothes occasionally. And, for times when you use the dryer, use dryer balls because these little wonders of wool decrease drying time (and the need for fabric softener sheets). On the topic of heated dryers, skip the heated dry on your dishwasher too.

Despite what Kermit says, it is easy to be green

Many eco-friendly initiatives that you do around the home can help you to save your hard-earned money. If you then layer in fuel-efficient driving techniques when you’re behind the wheel, you’ll be saving even more. Maybe Earth Day should be every day for the sake of your wallet?