We just celebrated one year owning a house! You may have recalled us moving from our post last year about tips for an eco-friendly move. Our house is tucked away on a quiet street in a modest suburban neighborhood. It wasnâ€™t advertised the house as a green home either. In fact, this 1924 colonial did not scream modern ecofriendly house to us either.Â But after living here for one year, weâ€™ve unveiled ecofriendly things in our house left behind by the previous owners. In this post, weâ€™re sharing the ways to live more sustainably at home and things you can do to make your home more sustainable.Â
Our home buying experience was brutal, so we feel very fortunate to have a home after many years of renting! The previous owners of this house lived here for about 40 years! While we didnâ€™t know them, they left the house in incredible condition. From the yard, to the appliances, to small details, weâ€™ve compiled the a list of what the previous home owners did to create a modern ecofriendly house.
Ways to Live more Sustainably: The Yard
The house we purchased does not sit on a large piece of land. There are still plenty of ways to make our small outdoor space more sustainable. The previous homeowners improved the land in several ways to provide a modern ecofriendly house.Â
No front lawn
While this might seem odd to some, the previous homeowners did not keep a front lawn, but rather a front garden. The beds are filled with shrubs, flowers, and small, decorative trees. The American method of maintaining a lawn is quite resource intensive, requiring many chemicals and fertilizers, constant watering, and cutting. It can be labor intensive for the homeowner as well as for the land. In fact,Â most of the grass on lawns today is not native to North America, so itâ€™s no wonder that it takes so much upkeep.
Occasionally we will need to weed the front lawn or replant flowers. By planting some native plants, the front lawn is able to look like an inviting place for birds and insects, while requiring less maintenance for us!
While many associate irrigation systems with large golf courses and athletic fields, irrigation systems have actually been used for thousands of years. First invented by the Mayans, irrigation systems were built to move water to crops in water scarce regions. Irrigation works because water is directly supplied to the source of the plants. By having an irrigation system in place, our landscaping gets water without having to worry about water migration or evaporation. For anyone in NJ, we used J&P Irrigation!
It really clicked for me that the previous homeowners sought out ways to live sustainably at home when I realized there was a compost bin in the yard. It was full when we moved in! This means they did their part to ensure that their food waste and lawn clippings were going to good use. Luckily for us, we get to keep utilizing the compost bin and use it throughout the yard.Â
Tree-lined street means less running the AC
My husband told me that the previous homeowners probably did not have anything to do with the trees on the street. But the owner worked for the town so maybe he petitioned! I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Having a tree-lined street helps us reduce the temperature of our house in the summertime, meaning we can run the air conditioner less. They also look really pretty while the seasons are changing!
Things we did to make the house more sustainable:Â
Raised garden beds
While heâ€™ll never admit to being handy, my husband built us some beautiful raised garden beds! Weâ€™ve been bragging about them all over Instagram and I am absolutely in love with them. We removed some of the shrubs in the backyard to make room for these beds, which is great because they produce food for us.Â
This year we are growing mostly herbs, radishes, and tomatoes. Next year, we want to get into growing some more of our own food. It would be great for us to grow our own vegetables if we can get the growing conditions right! Learn how you can create and maintain a sustainable garden in our post here.
Wildflowers for Pollinators!
In our front garden beds, we planted wild flower seeds to attract pollinators and other species. Now that itâ€™s summertime, these flowers are in bloom and the variety gives a nice color to the bed. Pollinators are great for the environment and for growing your own food. If you have a garden, planting wildflowers is one of the best ways to live more sustainably at home.
Rerouted the irrigation lines into the garden beds
With support of our local irrigation company, J&P Irrigation, we were able to hook up drip lines into our garden beds! This saves us from having to water the plants daily and keeps them growing strong!
We always composted in our apartment. Now we are able to leverage some of the ways we composted in the apartment in our house. We run the Vitamix Food Cycler and feed it to our compost bin to help keep the microbes active! Weâ€™ll continue to do this so we can feed our plants!
Ways to Live Sustainable at Home: Look at Your Utilities
Since most heating runs on natural gas, having a multi-unit heating helps us conserve energy. We frequently only leave the heat on in one level of the house, which is typically the area of the house where we are located. The multi-unit heating system allows us to save on our energy bill.
Energy Star Electric appliances where possible
Many of the appliances in the home were replaced before we moved into the house, however there were a few that were left. The previous homeowners ensured that each appliance was Energy Star compliant, which helps us with our utility bills. This included our hot water heater, microwave, refrigerator, washer and dryer, and air conditioner.
The appliances that were not replaced are still quite old! This indicates that they waited until things needed to be replaced before they were replaced. Using what you have is almost always the most sustainable option. However, when appliances need replacing, seeking out energy efficient options is one of the easiest things to do to make your home more sustainable.
We are keeping up with this same practice to wait until things need to be replaced before replacing them. One day we hope to upgrade to a more energy efficient stove top, but we will use what we have for now!
Radiators converted to baseboard heat for more efficient heating
Because we live in an old home, there were many things that needed to be updated over the years to create a modern ecofriendly home. One of the most important updates is to convert from our radiator heat to base board heating. While this isnâ€™t always inexpensive, it helps distribute heat more efficiently.Â
Things we did to make the house more sustainable: The Utilities
We try to leverage our ceiling fans and windows as much as possible. By keeping our heating and cooling temperature low or high (depending on the season), we are conserving energy.Â In the wintertime, we also use draft blockers on the doors and windows to keep the warm in air in the house! We also want to look into fixing our fireplace to use it as an additional heating source.
In the future, we are looking into converting our energy source to solar since it is a popular option for New Jersey residents. There are many government incentives that exist that may make this option more tangible in the near future! Many state and federal programs exist around renewable energy sources so that residents can create modern ecofriendly houses across the country. Be sure to check out your state or local laws to see what incentives are offered to you.
While we really lucked out with some nice perks to this home, it didnâ€™t come furnished! Some ways we made our home a modern ecofriendly house was by leveraging our townâ€™s local buy nothing page. This helped us get furniture and decorations for our house. We ended up with a thrifted dining room set that matches the aesthetic perfectly! We also thrifted art or reframed what we had.Â When we purchase new things for the house, we make sure to look for plastic-free things and higher quality items that will last.
There are many ways to live sustainably at home, and weâ€™ve shared many tips on the blog before. Even if youâ€™re not in a home, you can check out some of our articles like apartment composting, looking for an ecofriendly rental, or sustainable kitchen products that can be used whether you are in an apartment or a house!Â
We are looking forward to many more years to come, and create a truly modern ecofriendly house! We are always looking for more things to do to make our home more sustainable, so be sure to follow along in our journey!