Take steps to reduce your carbon footprint outside—it's a lot simpler than you think.
home exterior cedar shingles and Hardie Artisan planks
Credit: Anice Hoachlander

In addition to its foundation, walls, and beams, your home is built on the decisions you make. Some are big ones—replacing the roof or the water heater—while others are smaller, daily choices that arise every time you step in the shower, flick on the lights, or do the laundry. But all of them affect the environment. To help you live lighter and more sustainably, we enlisted the help of experts. From instant and inexpensive upgrades to long-term investments, this room-by-room guide offers eco-friendly ideas with lasting style.

Check the Windows

Windows are the eyes to your home's soul, and the source of many an energy leak: They can account for up to 30 percent of the amount used for heating and cooling. Triple-pane windows are ideal (that's what ultra-low-energy, or passive, houses often have), but installing storm windows is an affordable alternative. "They're like wearing an extra layer in the winter," says Marco Vincent, architectural project manager at Marvin.

Apply Weather Stripping

An 1/8-inch gap along the front door's threshold is the draft equivalent of having a two inch hole in the wall. Homesealing (weather stripping windows and doors) can reduce your energy bill by 10 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Painted cedar shingles and durable Hardie Artisan composite "planks" cover the Virginia home by Moore Architects, PC, pictured above.

Use a Push Mower

Gas-powered landscape tools, such as mowers and trimmers, generate more than five percent of urban air pollution. A manual push mower emits zero emissions, makes less noise, and helps you stay fit and healthy, yourself.

Let Clippings Lie

Yard waste, including bagged grass and clippings, eats up a full 20 percent of our diminishing landfill space. After you mow your lawn, leave the clippings behind. They'll nourish the soil and help keep moisture from evaporating, reducing waste, water use, and the need for fertilizer.

Keep Your Gutters Clear

Over the seasons, our homes are exposed to a deluge of water from rain showers to snow storms. And, if left unattended, a blocked gutter can turn into a big roof problem: Water gets trapped under shingles, causing rot and leaks in your home, and even flooding basements and other interiors. Keep yours cleared and cleaned, and replace the system when needed. Galvanized steel, copper, and aluminum are the preferred materials; however, experts recommend that you choose one that is most durable for your climate.


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