The trend toward green homes has been going on for quite some time, and that is good news for future communities – and the planet. Builders are increasingly using greener building techniques, designing homes that are more energy efficient and reducing the carbon footprint of the communities they plan.

In the meantime, however, there are countless numbers of existing home. If you live in one of these older homes, you will need to create your own green revolution, and that may not be as hard as you think. Here are 9 relatively painless ways to make the home you live in cleaner, greener and more energy efficient.

  1. Explore more environmentally friendly heating and cooling sources. Some energy sources are better than others, so do your homework and choose your heating and cooling system and energy supplier with environmental responsibility in mind.
  2. Start a garden. If you are tired of mowing the lawn and using potentially harmful fertilizers, why not dedicate part of that green space to food production? Starting a garden in your back yard is good for the environment and for the health of your family.
  3. Plant indigenous species. Trying to force non-native plants and flowers to flourish in an inappropriate environment is an exercise in frustration, so go indigenous instead. Focus on grasses, plants and flowers that are already adapted to the climate you live in – your lawn will thank you.
  4. Set up a composting system. If you have the space, a compost bin system in your back yard could reduce your food waste almost to zero. If you are pressed for space, there are kitchen composters that can do the job right from your kitchen counter.
  5. Turn the heat up (or down). You have more control over your energy usage than you think, and it all starts with the thermostat. Turning the temperature up a few degrees in the summer and down a few in the winter could save you a ton of energy and help the environment.
  6. Reduce the amount of waste you generate. With landfills overflowing and recycling rules changing, reducing waste at the source has never been more important. Recycle everything you can, reuse and up-cycle old furniture and clothing and avoid products with excessive packaging – all of these things can reduce the amount of waste your household generates.
  7. Price out solar panels. The cost of solar energy has been dropping rapidly, even as the technology continues to improve. If you have not priced out a solar conversion in a few years, you may be surprised at how affordable the process has become.
  8. Make your own natural cleaning products. Household cleaning products are often filled with artificial ingredients and potentially harmful compounds, but you do not have to use them. You can make your own natural home cleaning products for a lot less – and feel a lot better about using them.
  9. Get an energy audit. If you want to make sure your home is as green as possible, an energy audit is a good place to start. A formal energy audit could uncover deficiencies and inefficiencies you missed, and addressing them can reduce your utility costs and help you live a greener lifestyle.

The green revolution in home building is well underway, and that is good news for the future of the planet. But you do not have to wait for the revolution to reach your doors – there are steps you can take to make your existing home cleaner and greener, so you can do your part to ensure a brighter future.