Sustainable Home and Sustainable Living – How To Begin Your Transition

by Chantelle Christine

What is sustainable living and how can you start living sustainably? Lets take a look at some of the ways to begin your transition into a more sustainable lifestyle.

The definition of sustainable living is to live a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources as well as one’s personal resources. Sometimes, just the thought of living a sustainable lifestyle can be overwhelming due to the media’s portrayal of the subject or even the negativity towards the stereotypical ‘hippie’. Some who live sustainably go to such extremes that anyone looking in from the outside sees the idea as crushing. Others don’t think it’s necessary and are even against it from the start. The largest factor is the common misconception that because a lot of the popular sustainable items such as electric cars are extremely expensive, it’s impossible to be sustainable on a budget. Surprisingly, that’s not always the case. There are plenty of economical ways to do your part in taking baby steps towards saving our planet. Living a sustainable lifestyle is a personal choice that anyone can make without breaking the bank.

 

Energy Efficient Home Appliances

One easy transition to a more sustainable home is simply swapping your old gas appliances for electric ones. Fall is coming, how ’bout them leaves? Electric leaf blowers will work up a sweat on your behalf. If your mower is on its last legs, why not go for an electric lawn mower? Some will spew, “why in the world would I downgrade to electric yard tools?” For starters, you no longer need to run to the gas station each and every time you need to clip the grass. No more fumes in your garage! Electric appliances and cars have come a long way in the last 15 years. Some of the electric yard tools actually top the Consumer Reports ratings when compared with their gas-powered cousins.

Although a lot of electric yard equipment has in fact drastically improved throughout the years, there are appliances at home that are surprisingly still better to remain gas. Converting coal to electricity uses more energy than equal parts gas. Thus, some appliances are less efficient when ran through electricity. In most homes, the kitchen and laundry room make up about 30% of the overall home’s energy usage. Because of this, it is important to go for the energy-efficient models. Not only will it help you contribute towards a more sustainable lifestyle, it will also save you money on both your electric and gas bills. Fridges and microwaves are already electric but just buying a newer model can make a significant impact on your monthly financials. Within the last 15 years, the cost of running a fridge has halved. Your fridge also happens to be the second most energy-intensive appliance in your home. Just some food for thought.

Appliances that should remain gas-powered include:

  • Washer and Dryer
  • Stove/Ranges
  • Furnaces
  • Water Heater
List of appliances you should swap for electric:

  • Lawnmower
  • Snowblower
  • Chainsaw
  • Leaf Blower
  • Grass Edger

 

Benefits of Going Green

Like everything, there are negatives and positives to going green. Many people don’t consider electric because they hold the misunderstanding that electric power is not a good alternative to gas-powered tools in terms of output or reliability. Regardless of what the uninformed think, a lot of the newer electric tools and appliances available today are just as good as the outdated gas ones, if not better. There are many pros when going green, and they aren’t too difficult to find. For one, electric appliances are a lot less noisy than gas appliances. Can you imagine a Saturday morning when you don’t get woken up by your neighbor’s lawnmower? Well, going electric means quieter neighborhoods for everyone. Not having to go to the gas station to fill up a gallon or two bi-weekly is definitely a benefit in itself. The smell of toxic fumes in your car, your garage, and on you are no longer a threat. In hindsight, it is also much safer not to have flammable gas stored at the base of your home. A lot of the electric lawn mowers and brands today are being directly compared to the gas models. They have been found to be just as good with many non-biased review sites having a preference leaning towards the electric models. Electric appliances in general also don’t need tune-ups, or as many, whereas gas appliances are a boar and a hassle to maintain. Electric lawn equipment generates no tailpipe emission which means you are living a more sustainable lifestyle while maintaining a lower carbon footprint.

 

Going Green Disadvantages

The major downside to a lot of quality electric home appliances is that they are usually more expensive than their gas counterparts. Many times the gas equipment comes with additional features you don’t see in the electric equivalent, at least not in the same price range. Truthfully, there are some situations where electric home appliances are not as suitable as gas. For example, if you have a large yard, electric lawnmowers and other necessary equipment might not be for you. The batteries could possibly not last long enough to finish the job without having to change or recharge. This can easily be overcome but stands as a con nonetheless. If you have multiple electric appliances from the same manufacturer you may be able to interchange the batteries. With multiple charge points, you will always have one ready to go for when the prior depletes.

Unless you have a lawn stretching multiple acres, going green has many more pros than cons. Although transitioning to a sustainable lifestyle can be more expensive from the start, it can save you thousands in the long run. No gas, little to no maintenance, and no stress. As it turns out, gas fumes can lead to severe headaches and other significant symptoms.

Beginning your sustainable home design with your appliances is a good way to start lowering your carbon footprint. You can start living a more sustainable lifestyle within your budget without having to go to extremes. Simple things like changing your lawn equipment is better for your health, your family, your community, and the earth.

Top 5 Electric Lawn Mowers according to Best Machinery:

  1. GreenWorks 25142 10 Amp 16-Inch Corded Lawn Mower
  2. EGO Power+ Lawn Mower – 4.0Ah Battery and Charger Kit
  3. Sun Joe MJ401E 12 Amp Electric Lawn Mower
  4. BLACK+DECKER MTC220 3-in-1 Trimmer/Edger and Mower
  5. WORX 14-Inch 24-Volt Cordless Lawn Mower

Top 5 Cordless Leaf Blowers from Healthy Handyman:

  1. Greenworks Variable Speed Cordless Blower
  2. DEWALT DCBL770X1 Battery-Powered Blower
  3. TECCPO 20V 310CFM Lightweight Cordless Leaf Blower
  4. EGO Power+ LB4800 Battery-Operated Leaf Blower
  5. UKOKE U03LB Cordless Electric Power Leaf Blower

I personally just invested in my first set of electric lawn equipment for my new sustainable home. We got an electric lawnmower, an electric leaf blower, an electric saw, an electric edger, an electric snow blower, and an electric inverter for emergencies. I was actually pleasantly surprised by their power and durability. Although not all brands are created equal, I liked that EGO has the capability to use any of the batteries interchangeably. When one battery gets low, I just plug in one of the other five. There is absolutely no downtime in between charges as multiple are consistently fully charged and ready to go. Honestly, because my lawn is not at all considered small, I had my doubts when beginning this transition. Those doubts were quickly cleared when my husband first got to play with his new toys.

 

Sustainable Lifestyle

Living a sustainable lifestyle is so easy just about anyone can do it. You don’t have to go to such extremes and become a vegan to do your part. While beneficial in its own ways, small things like recycling can make a serious environmental impact as well. Recycling not only creates less waste in landfills, but it also allows manufacturers to create new products without digging up new, scarce, natural resources. Simply reusing items rather than using disposable alternatives decreases waste. A good example would be water bottles. Instead of buying turtle-killing plastic bottles from the grocery store, buy yourself a reusable tumbler or mug. Whatever floats your boat, just don’t float the turtles. How many paper towels have you gone through this month? Look into washable washcloths. Feel free to reuse glass jars for storage or even desserts. Getting your family involved in reducing your home’s waste is one of the first steps in living a sustainable lifestyle.

How to Live Sustainable:

  • Turn off the lights and other electronics when leaving the room. Add dim switches to your home to save on energy expenses.
  • Replace bottled water with a filter and reusable cup.
  • Instead of driving, start biking, running, carpooling, or using public transportation.
  • Shop locally at farmer’s markets with reusable totes instead of using plastic bags.
  • Change your bills to paperless. No one likes junk mail anyway.
  • Swap paper towels with washcloths and rags.
  • Reduce waste by creating less waste.

 

Going Green Solar

You don’t need a high-costing solar roof to begin your transition into living off the sun. Small things like solar outdoor lights or solar-powered phone chargers are things that exist in 2019. Going solar will save you money while saving our planet. There are a lot of great low-costing solar energy products on the market today.

Possible Solar Powered Items:

    • Solar lights for garden, patio, deck
    • Solar street lamp
    • Solar lantern
    • Solar cell phone charger
    • Solar window charger
    • Solar wireless keyboard
    • Solar Bluetooth speakers
    • Solar flashlights
    • Generator with solar panels

Check out some awesome products from MUO’s site.

While toys are fun and all, many of these listed are utilized daily. In my new home, I’ve installed solar street lights in order to see my driveway at night. I also intend on buying solar lights for my garden as well as for my deck.

 

Are Solar Panels Worth It?

Although pricey, a solar roof is a great option because it can lower your electric bill and even possibly earn you money back. Solar panels reduce your carbon footprint and help you live a more sustainable lifestyle. In many cases, adding solar panels can also add value to your home. There are federal tax incentives as well as state incentives for people that go solar. For many people, a solar roof is basically free as the electricity savings outweigh the monthly loan payment towards the panels. Check with your local solar installers and make sure to research your region-specific tax rebates and incentives.

I am currently in the process of trying to get solar Tesla panels installed for my home. Many companies are willing to give you free estimates and are upfront about your potential savings. In my case, a 7.6 kW system would cost right around $7,000 after rebates and incentives. With the available lenders, that’s less than $60 monthly for a system that will completely take me off the grid!

 

Sustainable Cars

The average American drives 13,474 miles in a year. In retrospect, that is a lot of emissions and air pollution. Electric vehicles are better for the environment due to their lack of exhaust emissions. Regulation is pushing forward with electric cars and we will soon see them become the standard. While once true, buying an electric car today doesn’t have to be too expensive.

Affordable Electric Cars:

    • Smart Fortwo Electric Drive
    • Ford Focus Electric
    • Nissan LEAF
    • Volkswagen e-Golf
    • Fiat 500e
    • Chevrolet Volt
    • Honda Clarity
    • Kia Soul
    • Chevrolet Bolt
    • Hyundai Kona

Electric cars certainly aren’t for everyone. Where many people see pros, others see cons. What you should know is that transitioning to a fully electric vehicle is another unnecessary extreme. Driving a plug-in hybrid or even a mild hybrid will significantly benefit both our planet and your wallet. Anyone can live a sustainable lifestyle while staying within their limitations. Work with what works best for you when building your sustainable home. You can’t do everything, but there’s always a place to start.

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