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Homeowner Tips to Live More Sustainably

Save Water

According to the EPA, the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home and roughly 70 percent of this use occurs indoors. As an environmentally conscious consumer living in a drought-prone area, it’s important to consider how much water (conservation) and how we use water (efficiency) in our daily lives.

When it comes to your home or investment property, there are many things that you can do to reduce and improve the efficiency of water usage. Here are a few tips, ranging from high to low cost:

Catch Your Rain Water

When it comes to outdoor water use for gardening and cleaning, rainwater catchment is an effective way to reduce your utility bill. These systems can range from a simple barrel at the bottom of a downspout, to multiple cisterns with pumps and filtration systems for domestic use. Rainwater harvesting systems can range from less than $100 to thousands of dollars depending on the size and functionality of the system. More sophisticated systems can serve as an alternative water source for non-potable water usage indoors (i.e. laundry or toilet water).

As an added bonus, your local government or water district may be offering incentives to install water catchment systems. Check for a local rebate program here.

If you keep your rainwater system within certain guidelines, you’ll save on costs by avoiding Building Permit requirements. Learn more about those guidelines here. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out this blog to learn about the process of installing a larger system from a local Santa Cruzian.

Install Water Saving Devices Throughout Your Home

There are a variety of minor installments that you can make around your home to reduce your water usage. Your local water district or government may even provide some of the tools needs for free! Water saving devices include efficient shower heads, faucet aerators, leak detection tablets, hose nozzles, and more. Find out what perks your water-provider offers here.

Save Electricity

Have you considered solar? If so, this may be one of the best times to buy: you will be able to claim solar tax credits on your federal return and the amount of tax credits that you can claim will begin to drop over the next 4 years:

  • 2016 – 2019: The tax credit remains at 30 percent of the cost of the system. This means that in 2018, you can still get a major discounted price for your solar panel system.
  • 2020: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 26 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes.
  • 2021: Owners of new residential and commercial solar can deduct 22 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes.
  • 2022 onwards: Owners of new commercial solar energy systems can deduct 10 percent of the cost of the system from their taxes. There is no federal credit for residential solar energy systems.

To read more about the pros and cons of installing solar panels in Santa Cruz, take a look at this article.

Looking for other ways to save electricity? Check out this great recourse!

Reduce Waste

Did you know countries that the US traditionally sent waste to (particularly recyclable waste) have begun to reject American trash? In January of 2018, China enacted its “National Sword” policy, banning the import of most plastics and other materials headed for that nation’s recycling processors. Before this, Chinese waste centers had handled nearly half of the world’s recyclable waste for the past quarter century.

As Santa Cruzians living near the shore, many of us are especially sensitive to trash’s negative impact on the sea – microplastics in fish bellies and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are alarming examples of the negative impacts of waste. As people all around the world grow increasingly sensitive to the implications of all of this garbage, a movement of people striving to live with less waste has emerged. Below we’ve provided some resources that you can use to learn more about this growing lifestyle movement.

  • Click here for a few tips to start assessing your current situation and taking steps towards reducing waste.
  • You can find a comprehensive list of products that can help you to reduce waste here.

Here is another Zero Waste blogger that provides tips to get started towards reducing waste.

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