Green Home Facts

Home is where the heart is. But it's also the scene of extreme energy and water use, resource-intensive fixtures and furnishings, and a whole heap of chemical-laden cleaners. Greening your home both inside and out means searching for efficiency-boosting appliances, water-saving strategies, and eco-friendly alternatives to household goods and gear.

Energy in American homes gobble up about one-fifth of all the energy used in the US—60 percent in the form of electricity. All this energy consumption generates over 20 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas load. Heating and cooling accounts for 42 percent of your home's energy use; lighting and appliances (like your washer and dryer) devour another 36 percent; and heating water eats up about 14 percent.[1][2]

Energy out

About one-third of your home's heat slips through doors and windows[3], with doors alone accounting for about 11 percent of this air leakage.[4] A key cause of home energy waste? Inadequate Insulation in your walls, attic, and basement, which forces heating and cooling systems to labor overtime.[3] Stop up the leaks (or buy a greener home and you'll not only lighten your household budget but also your carbon footprint.

Kitchen clean and green

Your kitchen is your home's command central, but it's also the center of energy- and water-inefficiency and earth-harming cleaners. Your refrigerator alone accounts for 14 percent of the power your home consumes, more than any other kitchen or cleaning appliance. Your stove is another power drain.[5] What's more, a sizable portion of your water use (Americans consume an average of 80 to 100 gallons (0.38 m³) of H2O a day[6]) happens in the kitchen to scrub those dishes and counters spotless. Water-saving in the kitchen sink and elsewhere in your home can stop about 7,800 gallons (ca. 30 m³) of water from slipping down your drain unused each year.[7][8] Opt for green cleaners and the small amount that does drain away won't harm waterways or your health.

Burnish your furnishing footprint

Couches ,chairs, beds and your living room, bedroom, and den decor may be your pride and joy, but your prized furniture pieces are likely made partly of wood (a dwindling natural resource) and other eco unfriendly materials that sully indoor air.[9]

That gorgeous Oriental comes with its share of eco problems, as well. Most carpets and rugs are made of synthetic fibers[10] which are derived from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Not only are these petrochemicals potentially hazardous to human health, but using them also contributes to ecological hazards, such as leaks and spills related to oil exploration and refining.[11][12] Fortunately, greener choices exist to lighten your home furnishing load.

In The Bathroom

About three-quarters of indoor water use takes place in the with your accounting for about 28 percent of the total tally[13] your daily sing-fest in the shower racking up another 16.8 percent[14] Water-savers, like high-efficiency toilets and low-flow shower-heads can help preserve this precious resource.

Green dreams

Your bedroom is your sanctuary, but your sleep may not be as sound as you think. Not only do your bed and dresser use natural resources and harbor toxic glues and finishes, but your mattress and bedding also leave their mark on the earth and your health.

Most mattresses are derived from petrochemicals and from natural gas, which are nonrenewable resources, [15] not to mention being treated with fungicides, pesticides, and flame-retardants.[16] Sheets, pillowcases, and comforters are made from either synthetic or natural fibers, or a combination of both, and endure multiple earth-harming processing steps, including spinning, dyeing, weaving, scouring, and sizing.[17] Get a greener night's sleep with an eco-friendly bedroom.

Great Green Outdoors

There's nothing like fresh tomatoes and lettuce straight from the garden. Unfortunately, even homegrown produce often comes with an environmental cost as does your home's curb appeal—meaning that well-landscaped and manicured lawn you take so much pride in. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), American homeowners use 10 times more pesticides per acre of lawn and garden than American farmers.[18] Likewise, your yard—not to mention the remaining 50,000 square miles of lawns across America—require some $5.2 billion in fossil fuel-based lawn fertilizers; 67,000,000 pounds of synthetic lawn pesticides; and 580 million gallons of gasoline to power lawnmowers. What's more, depending on the city, 30 to 60 percent of fresh water in urban areas is used to water lawns—about 200 gallons (0.76 m³) of fresh water per person per day.[19][20][19] Put more green in your greenery with earth-friendly lawn and garden care.

Footnotes

1.US Energy Information Administration - Energy Kid's Page: Energy Consumption

2.US Department of Energy - Insulation Fact Sheet

3.US Energy Information Administration - Energy Efficiency

4.Keep Warm Illinois - Doors

5.US Energy Information Administration - End-Use Consumption of Electricity 2001

6.Ideal Bite - How many gallons of water does it take to wash a plate?

7.Flex Your Power - Showerheads

8.American Water Works Association - Water Use Statistics

9.Green Home - Alternatives to Old Growth; Virgin Lumber

10.Green Seal - Choose Green Carpet Report, page 3

11.The Green Guide - The Green Guide’s Carpet Product Report

12.Green Seal - Choose Green Carpet Report Pages 3-4

13.Eartheasy - 25 Ways to Save Water at Home

14.DrinkTap.org - American Waterworks Association: Water Use Statistics

15.Lifekind - Why an Organic Mattress? Compare the purity and environmental impact of an organic mattress to a mainstream, or “chemical,” mattress

16.Children's Health Environmental Coalition - Rest Easy on a Safe Bed

17.How Products are Made - Bed Sheet

18.US Environmental Protection Agency - Wild Ones handbook

10.US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Earth Observatory - Looking for Lawns

19.US Environmental Protection Agency - Green Landscaping with Native Plants: Wild Ones Handbook