What more can I do at home?


1. Recycle-mania.

In addition to filling the big blue roll cart and maximizing your curbside recycling, push yourself to recycle and reuse as many materials as you can. The Orange County A to Z Recyclery is a great resource for this challenge! Can you get to zero waste?

2. Compost the Most.

If you have yard space, start a compost for food scraps. This is great way to create rich soils that can add nutrients to your plant beds. Curious about how to compost or where to buy a bin? Orange County's compost at home page is here to help.

If a kitchen compost bin is more your style, there are companies that will collect your compost and clean the bin. CompostNow handles the compost at Town Hall and offers residential services. By composting your food, you reduce methane landfill emissions!

3. Does your home need an energy makeover?

If your home isn’t already certified (e.g., Energy Star), there are probably some upgrades you can make to reduce your energy consumption. Energy upgrades often include things like insulation, air sealing and lighting. Sometimes there are opportunities to replace thermostats or mechanical equipment. A home energy audit (or assessment) is a good place to start. Duke Energy offers a free home energy assessment and energy efficiency starter kit for owners of single-family homes. Whether you own your home or not, you may also be eligible for up to 15 free LED bulbs from Duke Energy. These bulbs use 66% less energy and last 24 times longer than traditional light bulbs!

Duke Energy can help with other energy upgrades as well. Their energy efficient rebates can help offset the cost of HVAC upgrades, insulation, and more.

If you're not eligible for Duke Energy's free audit service, you can also look for companies that perform home energy audits and energy improvements. Tip: Ask if the company will stand behind their projected energy savings.

4. Test the waters.

Similar to an energy audit, you can audit your home's water use. Try OWASA’s do-it-yourself water audit and track your savings through the Agua Vista online portal.

5. Make your own energy.

If you’ve done as much as you can to save energy and you’re looking to do more, see if your home is a good candidate for renewable energy. For our area, the most common type of renewable energy installation is solar photovoltaics (PV). To see if your home is a good candidate for rooftop solar PV, try Google Sunroof. Most solar system installers will give you a free rooftop assessment and quote. Solar water heating is also possible in our area. Tip: Ask the installer if the solar system will need to be removed for your next roof replacement. The timing of a roof replacement may be an important consideration for you.

Solar systems installed in 2019 are eligible for a 30% federal investment tax credit which will step down to 0% by 2022. Solar panel installations also raise property values by an average of 4.1% but this added value is exempt from property taxes in North Carolina. With net metering, the extra energy generated by your system can contribute to your electric bill.

If your home is not a good candidate for solar, then your property may be adding other important benefits like large shade trees. To go carbon neutral, calculate your home’s carbon footprint and consider purchasing carbon offsets.

6. Skip out on Single Use Plastics.

A great way to reduce the amount of waste you create is to get rid of those single use plastics! These are items like plastic silverware, straws, cups, bags, etc. that you use one time and throw away. These items often end up in landfills, streams and oceans. Here are some ways to reduce your waste:

75 million homes are using single use K Cups every day. K-Cups are not recycleable or compostable meaning every cup you throw away goes directly into a landfill. Reusable K cups are easy to buy and will save you money.

Another easy way to reduce your use of plastic is to skip the straw. Challenge yourself to skip the straw for a week and see just how much single use plastics you can drop.

Before getting take out, make sure to ask if they have compostable or reusable boxes, maybe even consider taking your own Tupperware!

More information: Plastic Free Challenge