7 idea for reducing your environmental impact in 2017

Finding ways to minimize your environmental impact is a great idea for homeowners. Not only do you help out mother nature, but you can achieve immense savings by lowering monthly utility bills and other expenses.

There isn’t any single step that is best, and instead your most effective route is to look for a few positive changes to make. This year, go green by following these helpful tips:

1. Insulate your attic
There are a few ways you can insulate your attic and this is a great idea for homeowners. Heat naturally rises, and a layer of fiberglass insulation or other techniques can keep warm air from escaping through the top floor of your house. In the summer this is also effective for keeping air-conditioned air in the parts of your house that you spend the most time.

Remodeling Magazine found that opting for attic insulation is the most cost-effective home improvement project for your house. On average, homeowners saw a $116.90 return for every $100 spent on installation.

2. Weatherstrip the downstairs
Once you’ve insulated your attic, your next step should be to weatherstrip your windows, doors and other openings. Even miniscule cracks can allow heat to escape from your home and require you to run your furnace at a higher temperature. Your local hardware store will have a number of different tools for sealing up any gaps, allowing you to heat your home as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, oil and natural gas prices are expected to rise in 2017 and beyond. These are projected to be small increases but will still have an effect on your utility bills. 

3. Find ways to drive less
Unlike other sources of fuel, the EIA predicted that gasoline prices will remain relatively stable in the next year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for opportunities to drive less. The emissions from your car contribute to local environmental issues and to global climate change, and fewer trips to the pump is still a way to save some money. Schedule a school carpool for your children or see if there is a way to get to work using public transportation or on a bike.

Biking to work is a great way to save money on monthly fuel expenses.Biking to work is a great way to save money on monthly fuel expenses.

4. Shop local
Outside of your home, how you spend your money can have a major environmental impact. Food and goods from around the world come with the external cost of increased air pollution and a big carbon footprint. 

Shopping locally also benefits your community, which comes with its own benefits. This can sometimes be a bit more expensive but the rewards are certainly noteworthy. That said, even choosing to support neighborhood businesses a few extra times a month makes a difference.

5. Upgrade your home appliances
Outdated appliances can use a shocking amount of electricity, and the most modern models also come with added bonuses and capabilities. A smart thermostat, for example, can make it easy to control your heating bill even when you aren’t home. A new fridge, washer and dryer set or other appliance can also be more efficient.

When it comes to other utilities, be sure to keep furnaces and filters as clean as possible. Your water heater, meanwhile, might be due for an upgrade. An electric tankless water heater can provide your home with endless hot water while also lowering your utility bills.

6. Recycle more
Finding ways to recycle is important for minimizing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, dumps or beyond. A shocking amount of plastic finds its way to the oceans each year, and being responsible about recycling is a small but essential step to limit this environmental issue.

“A shocking amount of plastic finds its way to the oceans each year.”

Beyond curbside recycling, there are ways you can save some money that benefit the earth and follow a similar ethos. There are a number of common household goods that can be reused or repurposed. 

You’ll end up buying fewer items at the store while limiting the amount of stuff that ends up in the garbage.

7. Look for small changes
Overall, taking small measures throughout the year is a help to the environment and your monthly expenses. Encourage your family to turn the lights off whenever possible, lower the thermostat slightly or to bring a reusable bag to the store. As trivial as they may seem, these add up in a meaningful way.

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