Are you one of the many homeowners wondering how to go green in 2014? While many people want to live green and have good intentions, it can be almost overwhelming to figure out where to start and what will really make a difference. But, it’s important to remember that little changes can make a big difference in improving the health of both our planet and your family. Here are a few environmentally-friendly ways to make your home more earth-friendly this year:

  • Meatless Mondays – You might not realize it, but swapping out meatloaf for a vegetarian dish on Monday can be a big deal. Experts say adding in just one meat-free meal each week for a family of four has the same impact as driving a hybrid car. Raising livestock produces a huge amount of greenhouse gases, so cutting back even just one night a week can make a difference.
  • Shop for Sustainable Meat – When you are eating meat, look for sustainably-raised cuts of beef. Even though this term isn’t USDA-certified like organic is, it generally means that the animal was given plenty of room to roam and it wasn’t treated with antibiotics or hormones. Be sure to check the label while you’re grocery shopping to see if they say free-range and organic, as well as hormone- and antibiotic-free.
  • Swap Household Cleaners – Switching to green cleaners can reduce indoor air pollution. Products that are plant based can minimize exposure to both allergy and asthma triggers, and they are an excellent alternative to chemicals that can be harmful to your health.
  • Donate Old Clothes – When clothes get old, outdated or just don’t fit anymore, donate them to a thrift store or list them on instead of just throwing them out. For each item of clothing that is donated, it is estimated that 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced, based on the fact that you don’t have another item being produced while one is headed to the landfill.
  • Upgrade Your Insulation – Adding insulation to ducts, walls, windows and doors in an older home can reduce your energy use by as much as 20 to 30 percent. With new construction homes, like those built by Keystone Homes, you can expect your home to be fully insulated. In addition, Keystone Homes adds caulking and sealant around doors, windows and baseboards to eliminate heat loss. You can also try adding thermal shades to your windows, which retain heat in the winter and block the heat from the sun in the summer, or install a draft guard on your exterior doors.
  • Choose Safe Cookware – Non-stick pans are convenient and easy to use, but they can be harmful if you scrape the coating and it gets into your food. A safe alternative is to choose pots and pans made out of cast iron, stainless steel or enamel-coated cast iron.
  • Microwave Glass Instead of Plastic – Use glass or microwave-safe ceramic containers instead of plastic for cooking or reheating foods in the microwave, because chemicals can leach into your food when it is heated. Many plastic dishes contain hormone disrupting chemicals, as well as the damaging bisfphenol-A or BPA. Plastic containers labeled with microwave-safe just mean they can withstand a higher temperature without losing their shape; it doesn’t mean they are safe for your family.

Keystone Homes prides itself on building affordable, quality-built homes that are both family and environmentally-friendly. Visit Keystone Homes’ website to learn more about the methods it uses to promote green living in its new homes in Augusta.

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