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25 Homeowner Tips for Going Green


Ecology Environment Save Earth Organic or geeks holding a sign that says Go Green

Going green, aka being eco-wise, is about celebrating creation, being good stewards of our shared planet, and passing those values onto the next generation. There are many little things we can do in our Santa Barbara homes to play our part in reducing landfill waste, cleaning the air, and preserving the natural landscape. The effort doesn’t stop at recycling.

Just follow these 25 homeowner tips for going green:

1. Replace old appliances 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that if just 10 homeowners replaced their older appliances with EnergyStar®-qualified ones, it would be equal to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees.

2. Install and USE your programmable thermostat 

About 6 out of 10 households have programmable thermostats, but few people use the automatic function. Maintaining a certain temperature in your home is one of the many ways you can save the planet (and some $$$).

Farmer selling organic veg at market on a sunny day at a local farmer's market

3. Support your local economy and shop at your farmer’s market

That’s easy for those of us who live in Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market offers some of the freshest produce on the West Coast. Yum!

4. Insulate your hot water heater

A simple insulating jacket placed around your hot water heater can help cut down on energy use.

5. Clean your air filters monthly

Remembering to clean your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) air filters monthly can make a big difference.

6. Plant shade

Focus on the east and west-facing areas of your home and plant shady trees there to prevent the most brutal heat intrusion during summer months.

7. Install dual-pane energy-efficient windows

If you haven’t already, replace your windows with dual-pane energy-efficient ones, focusing on those that receive the most intense sun exposure first.

8. Wash your dishes after hours

Try and use your heat-generating appliances in the cool evenings.

9. Install aerators on faucets 

Especially here in California, drought country, installing aerators on your faucets, toilets, and showerheads can cut your annual water consumption by more than half. Aerators can be simply screwed onto the faucet head, creating a non-splashing stream and often delivering a mixture of water and air.

10. Make sure your toilet is a low-flow model

Do you know that toilets installed 15 years ago use more than twice the amount of water than the newer low-flow models?

11. Replace your light bulbs

 Using the EnergyStar®-rated compact fluorescent light bulbs all over your house can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one trillion pounds.

A compost bucket with compost inside

12. Compost

Buy a compost bin and use your kitchen waste to fertilize your garden or yard.

13. Plant a garden

It’s good to remember where our food originates, and it doesn’t have to be huge or complicated.

14. Stop using disposable bags

One of the most important tips for going green: Invest in reusable bags. Plastic bags tend to disrupt the environment in serious ways. They get into the soil and oceans and slowly release toxic chemicals. They eventually break down, with the unfortunate result being that animals eat them and often choke and die.

15. Buy a reusable water bottle

Reusable water bottles can be used for all sorts of liquids such as juice, iced tea, alcoholic beverages, or soft drinks. Reusable water bottles reduce plastic waste and contribute to saving the environment. Easily portable, water bottles make for convenient use.

16. Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot

Warm water needs to be heated and heat requires energy. Roughly 75% of the energy required to do a load of laundry goes into heating the water. Using cold water saves energy, putting less pressure on electricity grids. Plus, cold water can make your clothes last longer.

17. Turn off lights when you leave the room

And don’t turn on lights at all for as long as you can — open your curtains and let the natural light in.

18. Drive the speed limit

The reason is painfully obvious: This is a time for conservation and moderation. Our nonrenewable fossil fuels, like those used in gasoline, are dwindling at an alarming rate. As far as energy consumption is concerned, the optimum speed for cars is 35 to 45 mph. Even better, walk or ride a bike for errands two miles or closer.

19. Pay your bills online

Not only is it greener, but it’s also a sanity saver. Refusing to bring waste like paper bills into our homes is a lot better use of our time than trying to reuse or recycle it.

20. Put a stop to unsolicited mail

Sign up to opt-out of pre-screened credit card offers.  While you’re at it, go ahead and make sure you’re on the “do not call” list, just to make life better.

21. Reuse scrap paper

Print on two sides or let your kids color on the backside of used paper.

22. Conduct your own home energy audit

Your own simple but diligent walk-through and spot many problems in any type of house.

 23. Support local restaurants

It’s good for the environment. Local food doesn’t have to travel as far to arrive on your plate. It benefits the local economy, including supporting local farmers and other producers. It encourages sustainable agriculture. 

24.  Unplug unused chargers and appliances

Today’s digital versions of coffee makers, microwaves, and food processors are constantly sucking down energy. Chargers for phones, laptops, toothbrushes, and more add to your electric bill every minute they’re not actually in-use.

25. Use cloth instead of paper to clean your kitchen

Re-purpose old towels and t-shirts and cut them into small cleaning cloths. Extra points if you use cloth napkins instead of paper.

I would love to hear from Santa Barbara homeowners who have additional tips for going green. Feel free to share in the comments section of this blog. While you’re here, why not check out my featured listings? See something you like? Then call me at +1 (805) 886-9378 or email me at


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