Live simply

Human beings can make thousands of decisions in a single day, and its no wonder that we sometimes experience what is known as “decision fatigue.”

One of the simplest ways to make your life easier — and more eco-friendly — is by taking some of those decisions off the table and making the machines and electronics in your homework for you. Three words: Simplify your home.  We aren’t the Jetsons yet by any means, but it’s 2015 y’all, and it’s time.

Here are five easy ways to simplify your home by making a few easy one-time decisions, and creating a greener home with very little effort in the process.

1. Adjust your hot water tank to 49C or 120F.

The default setting for many hot water tanks is  60C or 140F, but you can save almost a quarter of the heating cost by lowering it to 49C or 120F. Any higher than that and you’re wasting water by heating it unnecessarily, any lower and you may find an increased risk of some bacteria in your home.

2. Use a cold water wash.

For everyday loads of laundry, set your washer to use a cold water wash. It’s been proven that they are just as effective at cleaning clothes and removing stains (sometimes, in the case of protein-based stains like blood, more effective) than warm or hot washes. The average household can save approximately 350 lbs of carbon each year simply by switching to cold water washes. Save the hot water cycles for items like kitchen cloths than may need disinfecting.


3. Use exterior motion detector lights and timers.

Rather than leaving exterior lights on all night, use a motion sensor to light up your yard as needed. Rig holiday lights to an automatic timer that turns on at dusk and shuts off at midnight so you aren’t wasting energy lighting up your house for no one to see.

4. Turn off the auto-dry feature on your dishwasher.

You can save about 15% of the energy used by your dishwasher simply by letting dishes air dry instead of using the dishwasher’s heated dry cycle. Letting dishes air dry also protects any plastic items you may have washed, and prevents any food particles that got missed in the wash cycle from being baking on.

5. Use a smart thermostat.

Automated thermostats like Nest allow you to customize the heating and cooling cycles of your home with the touch of a finger. These devices learn the routines of your home and make adjustments in advance, lowering heat during periods the house is unoccupied, as well as responding to pre-determined schedules. You can even access the thermostat remotely from a smartphone.  I mean it’s no flying car, but still — pretty cool!

Here are five easy ways to simplify your home by making a few easy one-time decisions, and creating a greener home with very little effort in the process.

Feature image courtesy of Joe St. Pierre

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.