Ideas for Making Your Home & Life Greener

The Village's Sustainable Environmental Advisory Commission has held meetings and hearings over the course of the last year. Part of its mission is to provide information to residents. Here are a few helpful ideas learned in the last year.

Changing things at your home or business to achieve environmentally friendly objectives is commonly referred to as going "green." Adopting some new habits and practices - such as the ideas listed here - will not only save you money, but it's also good for the planet! 
  • Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and therefore more energy dollars, typically 46% of your utility bill, than any other system in your home. Reduce the use of heat or air conditioning by:
    • Setting your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer. Heat your house at 68 degrees or less and keep your air conditioning at 74 degrees or more.
    • Using a programmable thermostat will help you save even more.
  • Unplug! Many appliances and electronic equipment continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These "phantom" loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, telephone chargers and kitchen appliances. Avoid this energy drain by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water. Detergents have improved, eliminating the need for hot water (which accounts for 80% of the electricity used in a load of laundry).
  • Putting an insulation sleeve on your hot water heater retards the loss of heat, thus saving energy. (Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for this.) Draining the bottom foot of your hot water heater once a year removes sediment and improves heating efficiency.
  • Use energy efficient fixtures and bulbs.
    • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use 75% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than the typical light bulb. Technology and reliability have improved dramatically from the earlier versions.
    • LEDs consume far less energy than both incandescents and Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) and, unlike CFL bulbs, don’t contain any mercury, and last longer than either incandescents or CFLs. An added bonus? LED bulbs are now more affordable and widely available than ever before, coming in a variety of styles and temperatures (measured in units known as “Kelvins”) than ever before, including that warm glow that incandescents are known for, rather than that blue-white that used to be commonly associated with LED lighting.
  • Check the energy star rating of appliances and selected the ones with the lowest energy usage.
  • And remember what your parents told you: "turn out the lights" that are not necessary.

Go Green in the Holiday Season

With the holiday season just around the corner, here are a few simple tips to consider before you begin to shop for your family and friends.
  • Shop Locally

    Shopping within the community helps reduce emissions and contributes to the local economy.
  • Think Green

    When making purchases, consider buying items that are primarily manufactured domestically and/or use recycled or recyclable materials. When you purchase an item that is domestically manufactured and/or is manufactured using recycled or recyclable materials, you help cut down on the distance that an item must be shipped which, in turn, helps to cut down on pollution… and you’re helping keep waste out of landfills, which gives those used materials a new life and helps protect the planet for future generations.
  • Beware of “Greenwashing”

    When a manufacturer attempts to make an item look more eco-friendly by using terms like “natural,” even though it isn’t. To help determine whether a product is actually healthier or more natural, or whether it has been made in a more sustainable manner, take a moment to more closely examine product labels or the ingredient list, or look for certifications on the product. As just one example, if you are purchasing a piece of furniture, you can look for certain certifications, such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on the piece and/or in the product literature.
  • Recycle or Donate Your Old Electronics

    If you have a device that is no longer functional, recycle it at one of the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) Permanent Drop-Off Locations, One-Day Drop-Off Locations or through any one of a number of retailers or services that offer electronics recycling. (Visit for a list of locations.) If it still functions properly, you may want to consider donating it. To help ensure your privacy, make sure that any personal information (such as your contact list, text messages, photos and emails) has been thoroughly wiped from the device beforehand.
  • Upgrade to an LED Light Set This Holiday Season

    LED lights are more eco-friendly and energy efficient than incandescent light sets, which means that not only will you be helping the environment, but you’ll be saving on your electric bill as well. As an added bonus, The Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) and its member communities typically offer a free Holiday Light Recycling Program, which runs from the beginning of December through the end of January.
  • Reduce waste by remembering to recycle your paper and plastic shopping bags, gift wrap and other packaging, rather than throwing it out with your household waste