Six eco-friendly home ideas
Kermit the Frog famously sang, “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” but today it’s easier than ever to green your home. Whether you’re undertaking a major renovation, a light spring cleaning or just bringing in a few new items to freshen your home, it’s simple to keep a few principles in mind when greening your living space and lifestyle.
There are countless benefits of going green. By now, we all know the drill: reduce pollution, reuse all items possible, recycle non-biodegradable products and conserve natural resources, etc. Helping maintain an ecological and environmental balance can seem overwhelming, but truthfully there are simple things everyone can do to go green.
Living a greener lifestyle reaps countless benefits. Many times, an eco-lifestyle means lower overhead expenses. Even if upfront costs are higher, sustainable products last longer, which means less replacement costs. Energy efficient appliances and products can also cut monthly expenses, which add up to big savings over a time.
Environmentally friendly products aren’t only better for the environment, less toxicity means they are healthier for humans, too. Studies have shown time and time again that conscious living leads to overall healthier habits.
One of the most important benefits of going green is supporting a more sustainable world, which means a brighter and longer future for your young loved ones.
In an increasingly global world, shopping locally is also an easy, ideal way to live green. Many times, buying from local companies means shipping methods and costs are cut down. Luckily, there’s no shortage of New Orleans businesses that can help green your home.
Seeing the Light
Most carbon consultants agree, the best way to decrease a carbon footprint is to make the change to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). It is an excellent, easy first step in greening any home. These bulbs cost several times more than regular incandescent light bulbs, but they last about 10 times longer, which means less lightbulbs in the landfill and less costs in the long run.
CFLs also use 75 percent less energy, which in the long run adds up to big savings. To swap one incandescent bulb for a CFL reduces carbon dioxide by 500 pounds a year.
Be sure to take advantage of New Orleans’ free Household Hazardous Waste Day on the second Saturday of May to get rid of unwanted household products that shouldn’t end up in the landfill. In addition to CFL bulbs, which contain trace amounts of mercury, dispose of old paint, batteries, used oil, broken electronics and more. Contact the City of New Orleans’ Sanitation Department in the Environmental Affairs department of the Sewerage and Water Board for more information.
In addition to mercury concerns, some people are turned off by the lack of warm glow of CFLs, but compact fluorescents have come a long way in recent years. The Environmental Defense Fund has an extensive lightbulb guide to help determine which bulbs fit your needs.
If you’re worried about extra upfront costs, there’s a simple solution for New Orleanians: Green Light New Orleans, a volunteer organization that installs spiral CFL light bulbs in homes in the Greater New Orleans Area for free.
Think Outside the Box
Green Light New Orleans has also expanded their free lightbulb program to offer assistance in building backyard herb and vegetable gardens, and free rain barrels.
If there’s no room to grow herbs outside your apartment, Nordic Kitchens and Baths, Inc. has a solution: The Urban Cultivator. Bring the perks of an outside garden into the comfort and convenience of your own home with a fully automated kitchen garden. The Urban Cultivator, which is about the size of a wine cooler that fits into the underside of a cabinet, is an indoor garden that can grow healthy, organic vegetables, herbs and microgreens in any kitchen.
Mild winters and temperate springs mean Louisianians can enjoy can outdoor spaces almost year-round. Landscape Images, LTD can help transform outdoor areas into a new living spaces. Incorporating nature into living is a simple way to think green.
Enclosing a front porch or veranda with shutters also makes a great outdoor room, and keeps heat out of the home in hot summers. LAS Enterprises offers powder coated shutters, which are made without chemicals and are fume-free. These aspects mean the process in which they’re made is environmentally friendly, and they’re completely locally made, a big bonus for the eco-conscious.
Let the Light Shine In
Simply opening the blinds can save on energy bills. During the winter, opening the blinds can save up to 10 percent just by letting in the sunlight.
Got older windows? Three words: Energy efficient windows. Locally manufactured, energy star rated, energy efficient windows can be made to look in character with any home – even the most historic ones.
“In the south, where cooling costs dominate a home’s energy costs, the most important factor to lowering your energy consumption is looking at window’s ‘solar heat gain factor,’” says Manufacturing Manager and Engineer of LAS Enterprises Richard Maia. “We buy the highest performing glass on the market to achieve the lowest solar heat gain possible without sacrificing visibility through the glass.”
In the end, LAS Enterprises’ main mission is to provide the look and aesthetics people love about wooden windows, but with superior performing technology and components.
If windows are the culprit for your home over-heating and new ones aren’t in this year’s budget, consider new window treatments or shades.
While there are hundreds to choose from, the Hunter Douglas Duette Honeycomb shades, installed by Wren’s Tontine Shade & Design, Inc. are a popular, unique design that bring in big savings. In the summer, they reduce the solar heat up to 80 percent and in the winter they reduce heat loss almost in half.
Cut out Clutter
Go green by opting out of junk mail and start getting paperless statements online. Spring is the perfect time to do some seasonal tidying. Donate items when possible instead of throwing them out.
Go through the pantry and make sure to toss out expired cans, bring older products to the front and remind yourself what you already have in order to prevent unnecessary spending.
Mattix Cabinet Works can help you rethink a cluttered kitchen with new cabinets that can not only maximize your storage space in a more efficient way, but also can help bring in light – and they offer installation. Louisiana Custom Closets is a local leader in helping customers straighten out cluttered clothing closets, but these organization experts can also help maximize pantry space – all on time and within your budget. When possible, ask about building materials and cabinets that are made from a sustainable wood products.
Seal it Up
Make an efficiency audit part of your spring cleaning check list. Diversified Energy uses advanced diagnostics, including thermal imaging, blower door testing and duct testing to detect deficiencies. These aspects not only enhance a home’s overall energy efficiency, but improve comfort and safety.
Diversified Energy’s BPI certified professionals can clean and seal a home’s ductwork as part of a comprehensive service plan to maximize energy efficiency and provide cleaner air quality in the process.
In New Orleans, lots of energy can be lost through old, drafty wooden flooring. If it’s time to retire your hardwoods or you’re thinking of going from carpet to wood, consider an eco-friendly option: bamboo flooring. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth. Floor & Decor offers more than 30 options of bamboo flooring. Their large selection of bamboo withstands wear and tear, is easy to maintain and will look beautiful for a long time.
After a decluttering, be conscious of new items you bring into your home. Look for home goods that are made from recycled materials and organic fabrics, sustainably and locally made. Lots of luxury items at JADE Interiors + Design on Metairie Road fit the bill, especially their eco-luxury throws by In2Green. Many times, these eco-friendly everyday items may be more expensive but will last longer, and the benefits to our future and the environment are priceless.
Diversified Energy: 273-7779, DiversifiedE.com
Floor & Decor: 891-3005, FloorAndDecor.com
Green Light New Orleans: GreenLightNewOrleans.org
JADE Interiors + Design: 875-4420, JadeNola.com
Landscape Images, LTD: 734-8380, LandscapeImagesLtd.com
LAS Enterprises: (225) 887-1515, LASHome.com
Louisiana Custom Closets: 885-3188, LouisianaCustomClosets.com
Mattix Cabinet Works: 486-7218, MattixCabinet.com
Nordic Kitchens and Baths, Inc: 888-2300, NordicKitchens.com
Wren’s Tontine Shade & Design, Inc: 525-7409, WrensTontine.com