Conservation doesn't have to be as hard as you think. It's all about conscientiously making simple, everyday decisions. Take these five easy swaps: They'll only take a few moments of your time, but when you're done, you'll be well on your way to a managing a sustainable home.
Swap disposable goods for reusable goods
Look around your house: Do you have oodles of plastic sandwich bags, wrap and utensils? What about disposable water or drink bottles? Once upon a time, in a more sustainable land, none of these products existed. The fact is, it's not that hard to swap out your disposable goods for linens, washable tableware, reusable Tupperware and water bottles. You'll cut back drastically on your home's waste, and you'll save a pretty penny when you stop needing to replace all those disposable goods.
Swap meaty meals for meatless ones
You probably don't think about it very much, but the energy cost of raising commercial livestock is outlandish. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, raising livestock contributes significantly to deforestation, and the greenhouse gases produced by livestock are greater than those produced by all means of transportation. The good news is that you don't have to become a vegetarian to make a difference. Simply cut back on your weekly meat consumption. Have "Meatless Mondays" or skip meat at lunch every day.
Swap hot-water washing for cold
Heating up the water in your home requires a lot of energy. To get a handle on this energy sapper, check your hot water heater and make sure it's set to a maximum of 120 degrees (most are set to 140), and remind your family to keep showers short. Then, switch your laundry setting from hot or warm water to cold. Your clothes will get just as clean as long as you're using a cold-water detergent, and you'll save a lot of energy by not heating the water.
Swap electrical appliances for battery- or solar-powered
Modern technology is a wonderful thing, but all the newfangled gadgets can be a real energy drain. Do what you can to unplug. Opt for solar-powered chargers for your cell phone, tablet and laptop. When you're in the market for a new appliance, look for battery-powered options, and stock up on rechargeable batteries. Unlike the rechargeable batteries of the past, today's varieties can be recharged hundreds of times, making them a much more practical option than before.
Swap incandescent light bulbs for LED lights
If you're still hanging onto your good ol' incandescent light bulbs, or even if you've upgraded to CFL bulbs, it may be time to make the switch to LED lights. The initial cost of the bulb is a little higher, but each provides between 30,000 to 50,000 hours of light (a huge bump up from the 1,000 to 2,000 provided by incandescent bulbs). LEDs are roughly 90 percent recyclable, and they don't have the annoying warmup period of CFL bulbs. Plus, after you've taken the time to screw them all in, you won't have to give your lighting another thought for a very long time.