How to Make Your Home More Sustainable Today… for a Better Tomorrow

Brian Hogan
Jun 5, 2021 8:30:00 AM

When you consider what it means to reduce your personal carbon footprint and lead a more sustainable lifestyle, chances are you think about how fuel-efficient your car is, how often you travel by air, how much beef you eat, or how much plastic you contribute to the environment. 

Stone and Cedar Siding Lake Home  Exterior with large and ample windows to let the natural light shine through

While you wouldn’t be wrong, there’s another area of sustainability that should be top of mind, and that’s the level of sustainability you maintain every day at home. This includes how much water and non-renewable energy you use as well as how much waste you generate, and what you do with it. 

In recognition of World Environment Day, we’d like to offer a few relatively simple strategies to make your home — and consequently your everyday life — more sustainable.

Sustainability Defined

A sustainable lifestyle includes actions and practices that help minimize your carbon footprint or the amount of greenhouse gases generated by your lifestyle and actions. It’s a key concept to grasp and embrace if we want to take a collective step toward addressing climate change. 

But the term sustainability means so much more. The UN World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

“Sustainable practices support ecological, human, and economic health and vitality,” according to the UCLA Sustainability Committee. “Sustainability presumes that resources are finite and should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences of the ways in which resources are used.

“In simplest terms, sustainability is about our children and grandchildren, and the world we will leave them.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Your Sustainable Home

There are many ways to make your home environment more sustainable, ranging from simple changes you can tackle yourself to investment projects that help boost the long-term value of your house.

If this seems daunting, we have good news: even small changes can have a major impact over time, and there’s no timetable for sustainability — so don’t stress, and feel good about making the changes you can make at your own pace.  

Simple changes

  • Switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs: Swap conventional incandescent lightbulbs for energy-saving bulbs like light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Energy-efficient lightbulbs last far longer and use much less electricity than regular bulbs.  
  • Install a programmable thermostat: Save on monthly heating and cooling expenses by using a programmable thermostat to control the temperature of your house 24/7, whether you’re at home, at work, asleep, or on vacation. 
  • Seal air leaks and ducts: If warm air leaks out of your home during the winter and into your home during the summer, you’re wasting a lot of energy and money. Seal air leaks around windows, skylights, and doors, then find and seal gaps in the ductwork of your heating and cooling system. 

Bigger commitments 

  • Install low-flow faucets, showerheads, and toilets: Save gallons of water every day by replacing every faucet, showerhead, and toilet with a low-flow alternative. Simply look for the EPA’s WaterSense label: a WaterSense faucet uses a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute, reducing water flow by over 30 percent without sacrificing performance. 
  • Add extra insulation: Adding extra insulation is one of the best ways to keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. A home energy audit shows exactly which areas of your home (attic, basement, exterior walls) are prone to energy waste. 
  • Start composting your organic waste: It feels strange to throw organic matter away in a plastic trash bag where it will keep for decades. Turn your organic waste into rich organic material for your garden — and reduce your curb garbage in the process — by starting your own backyard composting pile.    

Rooftop Sunroom with energy efficient windows and skylights

Investment projects

  • Install energy-efficient windows and doors: Lose less energy through your windows, skylights, and doors by installing new, energy-efficient windows, skylights, and doors that reduce energy waste, put money back in your pocket, and make your home more comfortable during extreme weather.
  • Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances: If you really want your home to be more sustainable, trade your outdated, energy-sucking appliances for new, high-efficiency ENERGY STAR models that can accomplish the same tasks using far less energy. Before you buy, look at the list of “most efficient” ENERGY STAR appliances for 2021. 
  • Make the switch to renewable solar energy: If you like the idea of generating your own electricity from a clean, renewable source — sunlight — while greatly reducing your reliance on non-renewable coal-powered electricity, you’re not alone. Solar panels aren’t just more popular than ever before, they’re the way of the future. You can even store extra energy in a solar battery bank for that proverbial rainy day. 

Learning and Guidance

To help you get started on the path toward greater sustainability at home, we’ve compiled a shortlist of helpful resources:

For more home-related trends, tips, and advice from the team at Hogan Design & Construction, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, catch up on our weekly blog, or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.