Green HOA Tips
Irvine Home Owners Associations (HOAs) have a unique opportunity to encourage residents to take individual action to be positive and productive environmental stewards by sharing green tips and links to green programs, services and rebates.
With ‘going green’ being the new way of living, Irvine HOAs are in a unique position to save money while positively impacting the environment through influencing how common areas are maintained and how their residents consume resources and community resources.
How Can My HOA Be Green?
1. Water conservation
- Switching an old standard toilet to a dual flushing or low flush toilet can save more than half the amount of water used. Water efficient toilets only use 1.6 gallons per flush compared to standard toilets which use 3.5 gallons per flush.
- Installing aerators on faucets and shower heads is an easy low-cost and effective way to conserve water. Adding motion censored faucets can also help you save even more.
- Xeriscaping refers to landscaping and gardening in ways that conserve and reduce water usage. Drought resistant and indigenous plants do not require a lot of water and are very low maintenance. Using a high efficiency nozzle for plant watering can also reduce water usage. Visit www.irwd.com for rebates on high efficiency nozzles.
- A natural grass lawn requires a lot of water and maintenance. A greener alternative is artificial turf which requires no maintenance or irrigation at all. Artificial turf is made with synthetic fibers, but it is made to look like natural grass. The Irvine Ranch Water District offers turf removal rebates.
- A rain sensor is an irrigation shut-off device that prevents an automatic sprinkler system from turning on during and after a rain storm. It helps prevent plants and grass from being over watered and, more importantly, prevents unnecessary water usage. Rebate programs are available through www.socalwatersmart.com.
2. Building Design
- Using outdated appliances can be costly because they waste energy. Replacing old appliances with Energy Star appliances can help save money and energy. Look for the Energy Star tags on appliances to see their energy efficiency ratings. For information on rebate programs on home appliances, visit www.socalgas.com.
- Paints that have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contain harmful chemicals that are damaging to the environment and humans. When VOCs enter the air, they react with other elements to produce air pollution which can cause breathing problems, headache, and even cancer. Buying and using paints that are low or free of VOCs can prevent the harmful effects.
- Solar panels use natural sunlight to generate and supply electricity. Using solar power reduces our dependence on other sources for electricity. Visit www.gosolarcalifornia.org to learn about rebates and incentives. The City of Irvine also has a No-Fee Solar Permit Program, which waives permit and plan check fees for solar systems in Irvine.
- Constructing smaller buildings and rooms reduce environmental impact. Smaller areas mean less energy needed to maintain those areas. Other benefits of smaller spaces may include open space preservation, greater cost-savings, lower taxes, and less maintenance.
- Instead of throwing away unused or unwanted items, try to find ways to reuse them. Reusing items will help reduce the amount of trash going into landfills and limit the need for new natural resources. The City provides many more useful tips on how to reuse.
- Reducing what you buy and use can decrease waste and energy as well as increase savings. Reducing also helps you to become a smarter consumer and think before you buy.
- By composting food scraps, yard trimmings and other organic waste, nature’s cycle continues. Along with reducing amounts of solid waste in landfills, composting has several other benefits that include conserving natural resources, reducing weeds, reducing run-off of fertilizer and pesticides into storm drains.
- Recycling is one of the easiest and effortless ways to go green…and it pays! Collecting recyclable materials and bringing it to buy back centers or recycling bins help conserve natural resources, reduce waste, reduce energy usage, and reduce pollution. The City of Irvine provides many drop-off locations.
- Going paperless will not only be more convenient, but it will also reduce unnecessary waste from cluttering office and home space and reduce waste from going to the landfill.
4. Energy Conservation
- Lighting accounts for close to 20 percent of the average home’s electric bill. Changing to CFL light bulbs costs little upfront and provides a quick return on investment.You can also save by using more natural light during the day, turning lights off when you leave the room, and installing motion sensor lighting in common areas.
- A home energy audit evaluates the energy efficiency of a house and can help you identify the best ways to improve energy efficiency in the home. This can be performed by either a professional energy auditor or yourself. For more information on Do-It-Yourself audits, visit www.energystar.gov.
- Heating and cooling in the home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other household system. Shade structures can provide natural cool air to homes without wasting energy or money. Whole house fans are great alternatives for air conditioners. Energy efficient windows are another option that can yield longer term savings.
- Cut your utility bills by an average of $50 per year and save 7,000 gallons of water each year simply by replacing your old washer with a high-energy efficiency one. There are other ways to save without having to purchase a high-energy efficient washer and dryer. Setting the washer on warm wash and cold rinses can save up to 90% more energy than hot water washes. Instead of using the dryer, try air-drying.
- Instead of leaving electronics on standby mode, unplug them when not in use. Leaving electronics on standby mode still wastes energy. Alternatively, use power strips to turn off all appliances when not in use.
- Pool pumps are the 2nd major source of energy consumption for most households and having your pump running frequently can be costly. Installing automatic timers for both the pool heater and pump can save a lot of energy. Timers operate the heater and pump in several short cycles instead. Better yet, try a solar pool heating system which is more environmentally-friendly.
- Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient than standard heaters because they do not have standby loss, which is the energy wasted to maintain a specific temperature in the tank. Standby loss accounts for up to 20% of a home’s annual water heating costs. Another advantage to tankless heaters is that they do not waste water.
- Biking is a great alternative to driving when you are traveling short distances. This can decrease vehicle emissions, save money, and provide exercise. Visit OCTA for more information as well as information on bike related events and news.
- Using public transportation or carpooling will help reduce air pollution and save on fuel costs. Taking public transportation far exceeds the combined benefits of using energy-efficient light bulbs, adjusting thermostats, weatherizing one’s home, and replacing a refrigerator. Carpooling can save commuters about 1,200 miles on their vehicles, reduce CO2 emissions by over half a ton per year, and save on vehicle maintenance costs. Visit OCTA for traveling options and to plan your next trip.
- Make your next event green! Have recycling bins and food waste bins for composting for guests to toss their recyclables and food waste into. Instead of using regular plastic utensils and paper plates, use biodegradable products which can be composted. Have guests bring their own cups or mugs for drinks instead of using plastic cups. Use solar power when possible to power lights, music or other electronics.
- Workshops are a great way to educate and encourage more green practices. The City also hosts free workshops (such as Smart Gardening 101 and the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project) for residents.
- Get your community together for a clean-up day. Pick up any trash or recyclables around the community. Clean your home and try to recycle more rather than tossing items in the trash. Donate or trade items with neighbors or host a neighborhood garage sale.
- Conventional cleaning products have health and environmental implications. Instead of using these products, try using natural products (many of which are already in your homes) to clean. For an all-purpose cleaner, mix ½ cup vinegar and ¼ cup of baking soda into ½ gallon water. For more cleaning solutions visit eartheasy.com.
- Household hazardous waste can be very harmful to the environment as well as your health. Instead of leaving unused or opened HHW materials in your home, take it to the Household Hazardous Waste Center located on 6411 Oak Canyon in Irvine (Tuesday – Saturday, 9am-3pm). The center accepts automotive fluids, batteries, cleaning products, computers and cell phones, fertilizers and herbicides, compact fluorescent light bulbs, medications and medical sharps, paints, just to name a few. Visit oclandfills.com or more information and HHW Center hours.