Moving Green in Houston
There are many reasons to move to Houston, Texas, and one of them is that Houston has been named one of the greenest cities in the country.
If you’ve irececided to make the Bayou City your new home, there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint in the process. From packing setting up your home’s electricity with an efficient energy provider such as Direct Energy, here are some tips on how to conduct an eco-friendly move.
Before You Start
Don’t put packing off until the last minute. If you start the process several weeks beforehand, you’ll have time to go through everything and determine what you really need. Only pack the items that are necessary. Hold a garage sale or donate extra items to a local charity. Not only will this allow you to declutter your life, but by bringing less with you, you reduce your fuel usage in the moving process.
While You Pack
If you’ve ever moved and felt like you were drowning in cardboard boxes, then you’ll be happy to learn of these alternatives. There are many options for recyclable packing materials. For starters, look around your house and see if there are any containers that you could use in place of boxes. There are also several companies that will rent plastic crates to prospective movers and ship around the country. You simply send the crates back once the move is done.
Even with cardboard boxes, there are still ways to reduce waste. Instead of buying brand new boxes from your movers or hardware store, see if any businesses in your community have boxes that you can use. Websites like UsedCardboardboxes.com do just that. They collect cardboard boxes that are on their way to the landfill and repurpose them for movers. You can buy kits complete with tape and packing materials just like you would from the moving company, but at a fraction of the cost. To further reduce waste, you can return the boxes once you’re done with them.
Instead of using bubble wrap, packing peanuts or foam wrap, look into some of the more biodegradable packing materials. Packing peanuts were previously made with polystyrene, but green packing peanuts are made from bioplastics, which are derived from renewable sources like corn starch and vegetable oil. Geami wrap, which is made of recycled paper, is another eco-friendly alternative.
Before you buy anything, see what you have around your house. Blankets, towels, and other linens can be great for protecting your fragile belongings in any environmentally friend way.
On the Move
There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint once you’ve actually begun the move. We’ve already discussed decluttering to reduce fuel usage, but packing the car and/or moving vehicle is also an important way of reducing waste. Keep in mind that you want to make as few trips as possible.
If you are moving you car or vehicle cross country, consider shipping by rail instead of by truck. Freight is generally a much more fuel efficient option.
When looking for a moving company, consider one whose trucks run on biodiesel fuel. Biodeisel is fuel made from either animal fat or vegetable oil, and is much more environmentally friendly. Make sure to ask the moving company what their trucks use when getting an estimate. Also, make sure to get estimates from several different companies to find the most cost and fuel efficient options.
Once You’re Home
There are many ways to make your new Houston home as eco-friendly as possible. First things first: recycle your packing materials!
Then, have someone come to the house and examine doorways and windows to see where air might be leaking. This will reduce the energy you use to cool or heat your home.
Instead of using incandescent light bulbs, consider Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CLFs), which use significantly less energy. Even better, try Light Emitting Diod lightbulbs (LED), which are even more energy efficient.
Pick an energy company that is as committed to sustainable energy use as you are. With multiple options aimed at helping you save on Texas electricity like Free Weekends , Direct Energy provides the tools to help you use less. Their online insights tool, Direct Your Energy actually breaks down your usage by appliance so that you can understand your bill better and make adjustments to save.
Bring in houseplants to improve the air quality throughout your new home.
If it’s not too cost prohibitive, install new energy efficient windows which will provide better insulation. Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and ENERGY STAR appliances, which have met eco-friendly criteria set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Also, unplug appliances when you’re not using them to further reduce your energy usage.
Green in Houston
If you need tips for making your new home environmentally friendly, stop by Houston’s Green Building Research Center. Established in 2009 by the city’s Department of Public Works and Engineering, the GBRC provides resources for anyone in the community who wants to go green. With over 50 interactive displays, the GBRC showcases a wealth of information about environmentally friendly building practices. You can even take home samples of recycled and refurbished materials.
The Green Building Research Center is just one way the city of Houston has affirmed its commitment to sustainability. The Environment Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership once named Houston as the number one municipal purchaser of green power in the nation. With 186 Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings, Houston is currently number four in the nation. Houston’s City Gardens and Farmers Market Initiative endorses urban farms and gardens. The city recently partnered with Urban Market to start a weekly farmer’s market at City Hall in an effort to encourage residents to buy from local, sustainably sourced vendors.
While you are on the quest for knowledge, make sure to visit Direct Energy’s Reduce Your Use University, a comprehensive learning center with tips for energy efficiency than can save you money and reduce your carbon footprint each month in your new home.
Acknowledging the growing need for public transportation, the city of Houston has invested in new transportation technologies. Houston has expanded its rail system, and incorporated electric cars into its municipal fleet. The city has also installed bike-share kiosks throughout downtown Houston and recently won a U.S. Department of Transportation grant to expand and better link the city’s bike paths.
Houston’s dedication to environmentally friendly urban design is one of the many reasons new residents are flocking to it. If you are one of those prospective residents you might as well start building green habits before you even start your move.