You turn up your thermostat to heat your home, but the earth has its own thermostat in the form of the sun. The sun sends energy to the earth, and the earth absorbs the energy and heats up. Unabsorbed energy goes back into space, which causes the earth to cool down. While nature put this system in place, man impacts it through carbon emissions. So why should we reduce our carbon footprint?
Carbon emissions absorb energy, which slows or prevents the transfer of energy from earth to space, according to the EPA. When this occurs, the earth holds onto heat and temperatures rise. Without considering our carbon footprint and the environmental impact we’re making, habitats are being destructed and species are going extinct. Fortunately, you can learn how to reduce your carbon footprint at home with these 5 simple DIY projects.
- Create a Compost Bin to Feed Your Garden
You probably think your garden is already as green as could be, but that’s not always true. You likely use fertilizer to feed your garden, which is a major producer of greenhouse gases. Replace your fertilizer with compost to cut down on carbon emissions so your garden will be as green as your thumb.
To build a compost pile, gather:
- Carbon-rich materials, such as dead flowers and shredded newspapers
- Nitrogen-rich materials, including grass, vegetable peals and fruit rinds
- Garden soil
- Straw or cornstalks
Choose a compost site that’s at least 3′ wide and 3′ long. Spread the straw or cornstalks on the bottom of the pit. Put the nitrogen-rich materials on the pile next, and add a layer of soil. Put the carbon-rich materials on top and water the layers. Repeat this process until the post is 3′ tall, and don’t forget to turn the pile twice a month and spread it on your garden as needed.
Check out this free eBook created by Safer Brand on How to Compost.
- Install Solar Panels
Solar panels are not only good for the environment, but they can also help you save money. You can claim the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit and get a 30% rebate on your materials if you install solar panels. Start with a solar panel installation kit — kits include everything you need for the installation. For ease of installation, select a kit with a grid-tie micro inverter system. These systems are also safer than other systems and tolerate shade well, so you won’t have to worry as much about placement.
Secure your permits and get started with the installation. Run the conduit from your home to the location of the solar panel array and then bury it. Then, use concrete pillars to build a platform to hold the solar array. Mount the panels and angle the solar array in order to receive the most sunlight. Meteorological data can help you determine the angle. You should also wire the modules, connect the cables and ground the system. Complete the task by making the electrical connections inside your home.
- Create a Cool Roof With a Reflective Coating
Make your home cooler and help the environment by painting your roof with a reflective roof coating. This makes your home less reliant on air conditioning and can extend the life of the roof by decreasing its temperature.
Coatings come in acrylic, silicone and urethane, and they are available for various roof types. For a DIY installation, stick with an acrylic coating. This water-based coating is easy to install and adheres to most roof types. Spray, roll, or brush the coating onto your roof’s surface and clean it with water or airless spray units once the job is complete. You can also look into rebates and other incentives that certain utilities and agencies offer for cool roofs.
- Caulk Your Home
The average home has enough gaps and cracks to equal the size of a window. You can fix this problem by going through your home and applying caulk to all cracks. Choose the right caulk to get the best energy saving results, but avoid the water-based acrylic caulk which shrinks. Stick with silicone caulk for the best results.
- Install Low-Flow Showerheads
If you’re like the average homeowner, about 20-25% of your home’s water usage comes from showering. This much water uses a lot of energy, which increases your carbon footprint. Luckily, low-flow showerheads eliminate this problem.
To reduce your water usage, turn off the water and remove the plumping fixtures. Take the fixtures to the local hardware store to ensure you get the right size. Apply white plumbing tape to the thread of the pipe, put the rubber washers inside of the plumbing fixtures, and screw the fixtures on by hand. Once you’ve completed these steps, test the water. Make sure you don’t have any leaks in the pipes.
Now that you know how to reduce your carbon footprint at home, it’s time to get started. Choose a DIY project that will help you save the environment — and your bank account.