Architecture + Design

1. Be “Passive” aggressive: If you’re not quite ready to Michael Phelps headfirst into full “Passive House” standards, you can still take a leisurely dog paddle in the right direction. Minimize the amount of temp-controlled air leaks in your home by replacing door thresholds that gap, swapping out old windows for new, double-paned ones, or covering your existing panes with a reflective coating or some cute drapery (it exists). While you’re at it, button up the rest of your home by fixing leaking toilets and faucets or installing low-flow shower heads.

2. Get smart: 
Leaving lights on in empty rooms is a small oversight that causes big jumps in both the size of your carbon footprint and the cost of your energy bill. Take a second to flip the switch when you step out (think of how proud your parents will be that their constant nagging made a difference). Already got cozy on the couch for a movie marathon? New tech like Amazon’s Echo can control your home’s lighting and heating systems (“Alexa, hit the lights.”). Excuses = eliminated.

3. Slow the flow: 
No argument--a square cut of perfectly green grass is nice, but Utah is a desert, after all. Consider tearing out some of that precious (and water-sucking) sod and replacing it with water-wise plants and native grasses. It’ll spare you the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, help you save on your water bill, and to a little som’in-som’in for the planet—not to mention they’re kinda, very pretty. (Might we suggest: Shimmer Evening Primrose, Wasatch Penstemon, or Prairie Sky Switch Grass.)

4. Get some sun: Whether or not solar panels make fiscal or environmental sense for your home depends on a few factors: the climate you live in, your roof’s layout, and whether or not your state offers rebates. Google’s Project Sunroof can give you an instant estimate to better determine if going solar is right for your house.

5. Start small: Enroll in online statements for your bills and get off as many junk mail lists as you can. Buy cloth napkins instead of paper and switch to cloth diapers—your local landfill will thank you. Bring your own bags to the grocery store (and actually remember to bring them in). Donate to—and shop at—your local thrift store. Start a compost. Collect rainwater for plants. Stop using disposable plastic bottles. Start recycling. It’s easy, and every step in the right direction is one well taken.

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