When it comes to improving the environment, it begins with you. From using an alternative cleaning material to recycling, making some minor adjustments at home can add up to significant benefits for the planet, not to mention improve your happiness and health.

Even though you have probably heard it before, the best way you to a green home is to recycle as much as you can and cut down on what you are consuming, such as bottled water. Roughly, 208 million tons of waste is generated every year. Every little bit will help, so why not start saving today?

 

Energy-Saving Light bulbs

Trading in a single incandescent light bulb for an energy-saving one will prevent more than 400 pounds of greenhouse gas being emitted into the air. When choosing a compact fluorescent bulb, make sure you choose the right color, size, shape and brightness for your space. All of them are different, so it might take a couple different tries to determine which one you prefer the best.

Eliminate Bottled Water

Many people refuse to give up bottled water because they love the taste so much, but there is a better alternative. Consider buying a filtration system that you can install underneath the sink. Purchase one of those BPA-free bottles that has a removable lid. Your bottle can go with you wherever you go. Even though you don’t have to give up bottled water completely, you want to try and keep it to a minimum if possible. Try opting for a reusable bottle instead.

Appliances

Many people often overlook how much of a difference their appliances can make. By getting rid of your old appliances and switching to Energy Star products, not only will you save on energy bills every month, but you will also save the environment in which you live. Consider upgrading your refrigerator, dishwasher, air conditioner, fans, washing machine, dryer, home electronics, dehumidifier, office equipment and more.

HVAC System

Getting one of the new high-efficiency HVAC units can help save on your energy costs as well. Opt for one with a SEER of 13 and 90 percent AFUE. You want to make sure you get the right size for your home. If the unit is too large, you are spending more than what you need, the unit is going to be a lot noisier and it isn’t going to stay on long enough per cycle to allow it to operate efficiently.

In times of high humidity, it isn’t going to have sufficient time to dehumidify the air in the home. Your air ducts need to be as straight and short as possible. The ducts should be sealed with mastic, not duct tape. Have the ducts professionally pressure tested to see what your leakage is. You want to aim for less than 10 percent. Opt for a pleated media filter that has a MERV rating of 6-12 to maintain the lifespan of the equipment and improve the quality of air in the home for everyone.

Low Maintenance and Durable Exteriors

When it comes to the siding on your home, look for materials that are durable, such as a fiber-cement siding to help reduce the need for painting the exterior and preventing rot. Try using a plastic or wood composite deck material to help minimize the need for having to reseal the structure every year.

The main goal is to make sure your home is as energy-efficient as possible. By taking small steps today, you can start to see the difference in no time. As you continue making changes around your property, the savings will continue to add up for you.

Michael Roden is from The Beechwood Organization, one of the largest developers of homes in New York.