Top 10 Tips for a Healthier Home

by The House Team Of Mortgage Intellingence - Date: 2006-11-21 - Word Count: 685 Share This!

Kyoto Accord or not, it seems clear that Canadians are preparing to help lead the way in learning to live "green" - by adopting new habits and ideas that reduce the impact our lifestyles have on the planet. And if you make some changes as a homeowner, you'll have the added benefit of a healthier home. Here are our top ten tips for living green.

1. Install a clothesline.

Give your clothesdryer a summer vacation and you'll actually see the difference in your hydro bill. Install a clothesline: either the traditional long line or the more compact umbrella style. You'll be hooked. Clothes dry fresher, faster...and free. Your dryer is one of the worst energy hogs in your house, but the sun and wind are yours for the taking. The old English "drying lawn" is even enjoying a revival in garden design. (Drying pillowslips over lavender hedges was an old trick for a sound sleep!) Don't like the crisp texture of line drying? Soften towels, socks or jeans with a 5-minute tumble.

2. Use ceiling fans.

Far more energy efficient, economical, and quieter than air conditioning units -- ceiling fans can cool almost any home. It's ideal to put one above each bed for comfy sleeping, but make sure you put one in your stairwell too. Experts agree this is the best placement for overall cooling of the home. And in the winter -- reverse the blade direction to help keep your expensive warm air down in the main living quarters.

3. Protect your deciduous trees.

Trees are like natural air conditioners and water pumps. They cool the Earth by giving shade and recycling water. And nothing can cool your home more inexpensively and beautifully than shade trees. A house in the shade can be up to ten degrees cooler than its sun-soaked neighbour! If you aren't already enjoying the leafy benefits of mature trees, plant now for the future.

4. Choose natural materials.

Mother Nature's designs are hard to beat. Wood floors will keep you warmer in winter, and cooler in the summer. Ditto for pure cotton sheets, or wool, cotton or natural sisal carpets. Plus.. if you stick to nature's products when building or renovating -- you will eliminate all of that unhealthy off-gassing that plagues new homes.

5. Use eco-friendly cleaning products.

Vinegar and baking soda are your best cleaning friends. Vinegar will clean windows, clear away mineral deposits and lift stubborn dirt. Baking soda is a great substitute for powdered cleansers. More additions for your cleaning bucket: washing soda, citrus oils, soap, detergent, and eco-friendly bleach.

6. Use your windows wisely.

See how long you can go without air conditioning. Open your windows at night, and close them up and draw the blinds during hot sunny days. Be sure to think about cross-ventilation; open opposing windows or doors to help the cool breezes flow efficiently through.

7. Understand your appliances.

A microwave is far more energy efficient that your stovetop or oven, so use it whenever you can. When using your stovetop, match pot size to element, and take advantage of residual heat by turning off the heat before cooking task is completed. Only run your dishwasher when it's full, and use the energy saver option - it really makes a difference. Let dishes air dry after the cycles have run their course. In the laundry room, make sure you fill your washing machine to capacity, and use coldwater rinse always. Do not over-dry clothes in your dryer.

8. Look at your light bulbs.

Power saving light bulbs now available on the market use dramatically less energy. A popular one developed in Finland (Land of the Midnight Sun) casts a lovely natural daylight glow and is easy on the eye.

9. Use fewer paper products.

Save paper towels for the really nasty cleanups, but otherwise use and launder household cloths. When purchasing recycled kitchen and bathroom paper -- look for post-consumer content labelling.

10. Put your house to bed every night.

Turn off lights and lamps (use nightlights in hallways), turn off all machinery (televisions, radios, computers, stereos) too, and sleep well -- secure in the knowledge that you are taking good care of your home and planet.

The House Team is commited to providing quality information to help people make informed decisions about their mortgage financing needs.

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