What is sustainable living and what does it look like?

Sustainability is a term with various meanings, but the most common thread in all definitions is the protection of the environment and yet improve the overall quality of life.  The Real World Coalition in 1996 said “The environment must be protected…to preserve essential ecosystem functions and to provide for the wellbeing of future generations; environmental and economic policy must be integrated; the goal of policy should be an improvement in the overall quality of life, not just income growth; poverty must be ended and resources distributed more equally; and all sections of society must be involved in decision making”.

What does Sustainable Living Look like?

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR offers residents ways to home improvement, remodeling, and renovation.  These ideas create ways to make your home more energy efficient and cut costs. All the while improving indoor air quality and leading to a healthier home. Not only will you have a healthier home, you’ll be protecting the environment through energy efficiency.

How do we live Eco-friendly or in a sustainable living manner?  Start simple. No need for drastic lifestyle changes. It is as simple as installing high efficiency shower heads or energy efficient lighting such as LED’s that use up to 80% less energy over the course of its lifetime.

Water savings could be as high as 5,000 gallons of water a year and $100.00 savings annually. (www.epa.gov) As far as LED’s are concerned, they can last minimum 3x longer or even up to 25x longer.  A traditional 60W incandescent lightbulb is about $4.80 a year in energy cost vs $1.00 for an LED. 

There are other simple easy ways to live in a sustainable manner. Here are some tips from Home Performance with Energy Star.

Typical sustainability improvements recommended by Home Performance with ENERGY STAR include:

One of the most popular methods to improve home energy efficiency is to add insulation along with air sealing.  Some homes are not well insulated and older homes may not be insulated at all.   Proper insulation provides for even temperatures throughout the house enabling it to heat and cool properly. 

For the St. Louis region, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends:

  • Attic insulation: R49; approximately 12–17 inches, depending upon type
  • Wall insulation: R18
  • Basement/crawlspace wall insulation: R11

Making it easier!

There are government programs that that are offering tax credits and abatements, bond financing, grants and rebates to make upgrades easier to make. For example, the EarthWays Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden can help you make your home comfortable, healthy, energy efficient and economical to maintain!  Bottom line: being eco-friendly isn’t going away and is becoming mainstream more than ever with many advantages.

— article by Anita C. Hale


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