Another month, another room! This time, we are going to help you ‘green’ your living or family room space. Since a lot of time is spent here, it’s important to make sure that you’re making the most of your eco-friendly options. If you’ve been following the Room to Room Challenge, you might’ve noticed that some of these tips are applicable to all rooms.
· Choose your wall color wisely · Look for reclaimed furniture or pieces made from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) wood, which uses responsibly-sourced trees · When cleaning, pick plant-based ingredient products · Purchase sustainable-fabric woven carpets and floors made from sustainable materials · Finally, freshen your room with homemade essential-oil based fresheners, or spread around some air-cleaning plants (you can do this throughout the entire house)
Now, here are some small tips specifically tailored for your living room:
1) Look at your curtains. In the winter, it’s good to have thicker curtains to preserve as much heat as possible in the house and save energy/gas. In the spring though, it’s good to utilize all of that extended natural light, so look for something a bit lighter in weight, and also transparent. This will allow as much sunlight into the room without overheating the space, and save electricity.
2) Since most families spend a lot of time in the living room, when it’s time to finally turn on the lights, make sure that you’re using either compact fluorescent or LED lights in all lamps. Each bulb can save you up to $45, use 75 percent less energy and last up to seven years, when compared to a regular 60-watt light bulb. Those that have the Energy Star label are best.
3) If you have children, and you have a corner of the room set up as a playroom for your kids, try to purchase simpler toys, and those made with the least amount of chemicals and toxic plastics. Wooden blocks and sticks are a good alternative for building games – once again, purchase those made from sustainable materials or reclaimed wood. If that is not entertaining enough, buy some simple cards, board or educational games (depending on the children’s ages), and engage in the fun! Also consider donating your old toys or collecting 'new' ones for children in need, for organizations such as Second Chance Toys (In NYC and NJ). No need for perfectly usable toys to end up in dirty landfills.
4) When it comes to your TV, size may matter to your husband, but how efficient the device is should matter, too. Since TVs can be major energy-guzzlers, look for a TV that has an LCD or plasma screen. Most models that have the Energy Star label can be as much as 40 percent more efficient than a standard model. The requirements for larger sets are even higher – 60 percent.
5) In order to lessen the frequency of your trips to the local video rental store or Red Box, see if your cable service provides Movies on Demand. This still lets you stay on top of the recent releases, but saves you some time, gas and unnecessary car trips, which can really add up.
6) Speaking of TVs and being energy-efficient, don't forget to always turn off your TV, cable box and lights when leaving the room. Remember that turning off your TV does not turn off your cable box. You need to power that off, too, in order to reap the benefits of saving energy. Your audio system may also be sucking up a lot of energy. If the light is on, that means that the device is using electricity - turn it off when not in use. The easiest way to ensure that everything is turned off without unplugging each thing one by one, is to invest in a good power strip. Plug all of your essentials into one, and at the end of the night, flip the switch. Everything turns off at once - nothing is simpler than that.
7) Lastly, check your thermostat. Is it blasting heat or cold air? Do you need it that hot or cold? Determine a temperature that's comfortable for your family, and set your thermostat on an automatic schedule where the heat or AC goes on at a certain time, and turns off when not needed; for example, at night. This will guarantee savings on your monthly power bill (especially over time). If you need help choosing the right temperature, or you want to know how much money you are wasting/could be saving monthly, use the free consulation services of your energy provider, such as PSE&G. They can tell you what you're doing wrong, and how you can fatten up your wallet by making small changes.
Have you been following our How to Go Green, Room by Room Challenge? If so, how are you doing so far? Let us know!