By Larraine Roulston:
Next in our Room by Room series is the living/dining room, where the family spends much of its time. Green ideas that apply to this area can be applicable to other rooms as well. These include using LED lights, and keeping your drapes open during the day and closed at night during the winter.
GREENING THE LIVING/DINING ROOM & HALLWAYS
Begin by placing small “Lights Out” signs on upstairs and downstairs light switches to remind everyone to save energy when leaving those areas. Lower the automatic thermostat heat setting for the period between your bedtime and 15 minutes prior to your normal rise time. If you leave your home for several days during the cold weather, turn down the heat and invest in a timer to control the light(s) during your absences.
Good insulation and weatherstripping provide a double payoff for both winter and summer by keeping your home warmer during winter and cooler during the summer. Insulation made from recycled denim is an eco-friendly choice.
When winter winds blow, remove or cover any window-mounted air conditioning units. Windows and patio doors can be covered with a see-through plastic film which will increase thermal resistance (R-value). Easily applied with double-sided tape, the plastic creates a dead air space between the film and the window.
Gail Lawlor, owner of Energy Matters suggests, “Be sure to caulk all cracks on baseboard, window and door trim, and to caulk foam gaskets to the wall behind the electrical covers and add safety caps on all the unused plugs on exterior walls. Air sealing makes your home more comfortable and saves energy.”
Flat screen TVs draw energy even when plugged in but not turned on. Connect this unit to a power bar with your DVR plugged in as usual to allow programs to be recorded.
Purchasing vintage home furnishings can add charm to your decor. Estate sales, antique shops or even second hand stores may have just what you are looking for in the way of tables or sofas. Stylish accessory ideas using sustainable materials can be found as well at eco-friendly home accessories. Choose rugs woven from all-natural fibers and those free of synthetic dyes.
When painting, opt for zero or low VOC (volatile organic compounds) or refurbished paint. If wallpapering, choose paper rolls with water based inks that are solvent free and made from managed forest trees. While painting, avoid cleaning paint brushes and rollers after each use by placing them inside plastic bags and sealing them with twist ties to keep air out. Brushes will remain pliable. If your painting span is longer than a day, bag them and place in the freezer.
If you have the luxury of a fireplace, there are choices in eco-friendly logs to investigate on 5 Green Fire Log Options — Roundup | Apartment Therapy. Each of these logs is uniquely made with natural or recycled materials and will create less carbon emission.
Larraine authors children’s books on composting at www.castlecompost.com