Welcome to our Sustainability Starts at Home series, which aims to help you live a more sustainable and eco-friendly life! We hope you’ve taken the time to read our most recent blog, Eco Resolutions for the New Year, to help with creating healthy habits inside your home! Maybe you installed some new energy-saving appliances, replaced your old light bulbs with LED ones, remembered to turn your lights off, lessened water use or used one of our other tips. Today’s blog focuses on how to take energy efficiency outdoors. Continue reading to discover 10 tips to help you bring energy efficiency outside your home!

1. Plant a native garden

This summer, soak in the sunshine with your little ones and plant a native garden in your backyard! Plants native to your local area will already be acclimated to specific conditions like rainfall, temperature, and seasonal changes. Native plants will also attract wildlife, birds, and insects to support natural, pre-existing ecosystems, making them easy to maintain and sustain! To see a list of native pollinator plants for the Waterloo Region, click here.

Did you know… Kitchener-Waterloo Region is officially a Bee City committed to protecting pollinators across our community. The more our community can plant pollinator-friendly flowers, the better!

2. Grow your fruits and vegetables

Growing your fruits and vegetables is a fantastic life skill to share with your kids; you don’t need much! All you need is a little patch of dirt or a planter box, a sunny place to keep it, and a little free time! This is an excellent project to teach kids where fruits and vegetables come from and how they grow. You can also tell them how planting your food reduces carbon emissions. Before you start, check out this video series on growing sustainable food sources at home.

3. Compost in your backyard garden

A lot of household waste, particularly in the kitchen, holds a wealth of nourishment for our gardens and, in turn, our families! It’s likely that 50% of household ‘garbage’ can be redirected toward a more nourishing and fruitful end. Building a backyard compost can help enrich your soil, reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, and help eliminate methane emissions. Plus, if you grow your fruits and vegetables, a well-composted garden helps your produce grow more vigorously and produces more nutritious food! Check out this simple guide on how to make garden compost for your backyard.

4. Harvest rainwater with a rain barrel

A rain barrel collects runoff water from your roof and allows you to repurpose it for other uses like watering your lawn or plants. Runoff water is better for your garden because it is not chlorinated! Not to mention, the barrel adds a uniquely rustic look to your outdoor space.

5. Eco-friendly lawn tools

The irony of lawn tools is that they often destroy the same outside spaces we hope to maintain and manicure. Gas-powered outdoor equipment emits carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds. Switching to battery-powered lawn tools can help lessen the impact. We encourage homeowners to invest in a cordless electric lawn mower, watering can, cordless chainsaw, battery-operated drill, eco-friendly lawn trimmer, and more!

6. Furnish your yard with eco-friendly patio furniture

You can make your backyard eco-friendlier by finding sustainable furniture solutions. Use local resources to purchase gently used backyard furniture, such as a Habitat ReStore, Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji! Second-hand shopping will save you money and is better for the planet!

7. Solar landscaping lighting

Landscape lighting can help improve your home’s security, illuminate pathways, brighten outdoor living spaces and complement the overall landscaping. We encourage you to invest in solar when choosing exterior lighting for your backyard. Solar-powered landscape lights work the same as solar panels on your roof – capturing energy from the sun’s rays and converting it into electricity. Not only are they cost-efficient and easy to install, but they’re also more energy-efficient than traditional lights. It is also a fun way to design your space!

8. Setup a clothesline

In the warm summer months, when the weather is dry and sunny, you and your clothes can hang outside together and enjoy the benefits of the sun. Air drying your clothes disinfects and keeps your whites whiter, and it is a natural fabric softener that is static-free and spring scented! You save money and energy, all while avoiding wear and tear on your clothes from the dryer.

9. Break out the bike

It’s no secret that vehicles produce many gasses and pollutants into our atmosphere. That’s why we encourage you and your family to dust off the bikes, pump air in the tires, and get cycling! Riding your bicycle to school or work, your neighbor’s house or your local convenient store contributes zero pollutants to the community! PLUS, bicycles require fewer materials to manufacture and, in addition, are a great source of exercise for the whole family!

10. Install Solar Panels on your rooftop

Installing solar panels on your roof is a significant upgrade that can significantly reduce energy bills. Solar panels convert light energy from the sun to usable electricity, powering your home and appliances.

Activa offers Net Zero homes with built-in and ready-to-use solar panels installed on the rooftop, allowing you to generate as much energy as you consume!

Ready to take the next step towards an eco-friendly home?

Invest in an ENERGY STAR® Certified, Net Zero Ready or Net Zero home in the Waterloo Region!

At Activa, all Townhomes are ENERGY STAR® certified, so your home is designed to be as much as 20% more energy-efficient than those built to minimum building code requirements. They feature energy-saving measures, such as insulation upgrades, higher-performance windows, better draft proofing and more efficient heating, hot water and air conditioning systems, for increased savings and comfort.

Net Zero Ready comes standard in all single detached homes so that your home is optimized to generate as much energy as an average family consumes annually– all it needs post-closing is energy-producing technology like solar panels to be installed! To take energy efficiency to the next level, upgrade your home to Net Zero with built-in and ready-to-use solar panels installed on the rooftop. This renewable energy source provides low-carbon, sustainable energy by generating electricity from the sun, saving you money over time.

To learn more about our ENERGY STAR® certified homes, click here.

To learn more about our Net Zero Ready homes, click here.


Looking for more eco-friendly tips?

Check out our blog post, 21 Tips to Live More Sustainably at Home, to learn more! Have a tip for us that we haven’t mentioned? Send a DM to @BuiltByActiva on Facebook or Instagram to share with us!