What does the phrase Zero Waste Home mean to you? To me the phrase brings with it many
different connotations and definitely much more than the cleverly positioned trash jar on my
the countertop that many people might envision. To me, the idea of a Zero Waste Home is not only
ridding my home of excess waste by means of what is or what isn’t in my trash bin, rather it is an
idea that encompasses all of the waste that myself and family generate, especially wasted energy.
When choosing to lessen our impact, our sustainable lifestyle choices should go well beyond the
idea of the trash bin and composting. Since beginning my zero waste journey, I have worked to
make my home as efficient as possible in an attempt to limit the amount of energy my home is
using and wasting, saving money and the environment at the same time!
This post is sponsored by Habitat for Humanity and their supporting partners.
Not everyone has the privilege of owning a home.
Not everyone has the privilege of concentrating their efforts on lessening their environmental
Nearly 19 million people or 1 in 6 U.S. households spend more than half of their income on rent
or mortgage payments. This results in creating a burden that often requires families to make
difficult choices between paying for housing, healthcare, nutritious food, education, and
transportation. In many areas, a person working a full-time job, earning minimum wage, can no
longer afford a basic one-bedroom apartment in the United States.
The facts present an unfortunate reality that is very disheartening and is one of the many reasons
why I’m a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity. This year I hope you will stand with me
and support Habitat for Humanity and the Home is the Key campaign to raise national awareness
for the critical work of Habitat and the partners who make their work possible.
We as a society are becoming more aware of resources that are wasted as a result of the use of single-use plastics, food waste, and transportation. However, another big resource sink is our own homes. Energy costs American homeowners and businesses a substantial amount of money – about $190 billion per year, and of that massive amount, nearly 30% is wasted.
5 Ways to Reduce Energy Waste
Install a Smart Thermostat
Being the nerd that I am I often get excited about new advances in technology, technological
gadgetry, and other tech stuffs. Imagine my excitement when I learned that I could utilize
technology to help reduce my overall environmental impact while making my life at home more
comfortable. That’s why when the Nest smart thermostat was released, I could not wait to
purchase one for my own home and was quick to adopt the new technology.
Nest is an electronic, programmable, self-learning Wi-Fi enabled thermostat that optimizes the
heating and cooling of homes and businesses to conserve energy. Through the use of machine
learning algorithms, Nest is able to build a custom heating and cooling schedule for your home
based on your temperature preferences and knowing when you are away. It can regulate the
energy consumption in your home more effectively than a simple scheduling feature that other
thermostats might offer. After two independent studies, Nest found that 41 families saved 10% to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling.
Nest, a Google brand, partners with Habitat for Humanity by providing energy-saving technology to Habitat homeowners. Habitat and Nest have a shared belief that the affordability of a home is based not just on purchase price, but on how much it costs to heat and cool over the years.
Built on the shared beliefs that energy efficiency is a critical piece of building sustainable homes and communities and that innovative technology can help bring energy savings to those who need them most, Nest is making thermostats available for every home Habitat builds in the U.S. this year.
Nest is making a $250,000 contribution through the Home is the Key campaign, building on their commitment to make thermostats available to every home Habitat builds in the U.S this year. The Home is the Key house built in Atlanta this spring is EarthCents certified and will include Nest’s energy-efficient technology upon move-in.
Use Smart Outlets, Plugs, and Power Strips
There are many electronic devices in our homes that constantly use electricity, even when they are supposedly “turned off”. This is due to most devices remaining in a constant state of “standby” in which the device is waiting to be turned on. Devices like televisions, video game consoles, media players, and more. You could easily unplug each device after every use but the simpler, more realistic solution, is to plug these electronic vampires into smart outlets, smart plugs, or smart power strips. Smart outlets, plugs, and power strips work by completely cutting off power to the attached device or devices when you program it to do so. This could be based on a timer or your location generally. This saves energy and even adds extra safety precautions to your home.
Most smart outlets also are capable of providing energy monitoring and can easily connect to your home automation hub, should you have one. This allows me the chance to see just how much power I am using by leaving a television on a Netflix show for background noise, instead of using my mobile device which is likely close by.
Personally I am a fan of Google’s “Home” products as the included Artificial Intelligence is seemingly lightyears ahead of others I have tried. My mobile devices use Google’s Android Operating System so that helps as well but I also have friends with iOS and it seems to get along just fine with Google Home.
Use Energy Efficient or Smart Bulbs
I would likely imagine that most of the light bulbs in residential buildings are no longer
incandescent bulbs or worse. However, changing your old lighting to newer LED lighting that
uses far less energy to illuminate the same amount of area is another quick way to lessen your
Want to go a step further? Instead of using regular LED bulbs, purchase smart LED bulbs and
add a few more ways to save money and energy. Smart bulbs enable you to not only track usage
and energy consumption but also enable to you control everything about the light itself. With the
most basic smart bulbs you can create schedules or use your location to turn lighting on and
off. More advanced smart bulbs have custom dimming output features while some even allow
you to make the light any color you could imagine.
Also, don’t forget to properly recycle those old bulbs. Never throw them in the trash! Stores like Home Depot have recycling options for worn out LED lights.
Become that Plant Lady/Sir You Always Wanted to Be
Many people have used outdoor landscaping as a way of reducing energy costs for decades.
Growing up in flat Missouri, country folk would plant cedar trees around the north sides of their
properties to reduce the cold winter winds. This would greatly reduce energy costs. Planting trees
close to the home also helped in shading the home during the hot summer sun. The same applies
for indoor plants. Having plants indoors not only helps to increase air quality but they can also help keep rooms cooler in the warmer months. Not sure if this will be enough to notice any change in your utility bill, I’m just trying to help justify a reason for you all to buy more plants. Thank me later.
Line Dry Your Clothing
I remember as a kid running through the drying linens on grandma’s clothesline while she
meticulously hung sheets, towels, and grandpa’s overly repaired socks. I still remember the
smell. I never recall her ever using the dryer in the warmer months, in fact, I never really recall
her using the dryer ever but I’m sure she did on occasion.
Dryers account for 12% of our home energy consumption on average which is why
I suggest line drying clothing when you can. Don’t have a clothesline? No problem. Get a
wooden drying rack and dry them in your home – just be sure to open a window to reduce
Zero Waste living goes beyond the trash we produce. It encompasses every decision we make to overall reduce our environmental impact. Whether eliminating single-use plastics, wasting less food, or conserving precious energy.
In what ways do you reduce energy consumption in your home?