The next installation in the proper green home living is your indoor air quality. There are many things that contribute to poor quality that can lead to serious health issues, both instantly and over time.
I call this category the “non visible” budget item because you will generally not see immediate changes when altering some of things on my list. What you will see down the read are reduced doctor’s bills, healthier children and happier people (and pets) in your space. Technically, this is probably the category that will have the largest effect on your budget, it is just really spread out.
So, to green up your home, let’s start with some simple things that have very little impact: pay attention to your shopping. There are many choices available these days, but not all are good. I will leave the food related items for another post.
Cleaning products. Most products out there are filled with chemicals that not only harm you furniture, floor and clothing in the long run, but they also contribute to ongoing off gassing. Small particles will settle in your system when cleaning and long after while breathing in that “clean home” smell.. Other chemicals are absorbed through your skin. Try to leave the commercial brands aside and consider vinegar for glass type surfaces wiped up with newspaper. When using the later, you can use very little vinegar to get a sparkling mirror, glass table or stove.
Use Sal’s suds or other simple pure soaps for most other cleaning around the house. You will be amazed how long a one gallon container will last you… serious savings in your grocery bill here. I have not found them in a store in a while, so order them online: http://www.drbronner.com/DBMS/SAL.htm
There are many more simple ways to use non-toxic cleaners. I will pick this up again at a later post, but simply research some green cleaning tips if you need more right now. You can also push the limit by making most of this on your own, particularly soaps. One of my favorite books is “Better Basics for your Home”. http://www.anniebbond.com/
Next is the use of actual chemicals, mostly used for pest control. In south Florida this is a hard one to beat, but ask your technician for non or less toxic options. The market has advanced quite a bit. There should be no charge to make your green, clean and easy to breathe with this path. Do your part by planting at least 12 inches away from your exterior wall, limit and wood installations that can serve as a bridge to your building (a 12” gap is good here, too), remove all food leftovers from easy access and weatherize your doors and windows. There are also simple screens available to control some of our flying pests.
Use peppermint to deter ants, it will also help to naturally scent your home. Lavender is a roach deterrent. Line the openings with powdered boric acid. This is harmless to pets and humans alike but will kill all small insect that cross it by suffocating them.
Last important air quality tip, and there is really no excuse for this one, is to change or clean your AC filter at least once a month. Newer units have little reminders linked to their thermostat, if not, mark the filter so you can remember the date and make it a game, who will remember the closest to a 30 day period to change the filter. Use the better filters; you want to look for the MERV rating. Home Depot and the like will sell a MERV 8, this is standard. If you find a hypo allergen model, this will likely have a MERV 11. MERV 13 is available and can easily be ordered online. I generally find my best deals for boxes of 12 on eBay…
For more tips, keep checking back or contact me to get a custom analysis of what you can do to green your home.
Sebastian Eilert. www.SebastianEilert.com
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