Bedrooms offer many opportunities for saving energy and creating a greener, healthier environment. In this section, we first discuss components of bedrooms that have environmental attributes, including electronics equipment, furnishings, and flooring. Then, we discuss changes to everyday activities that you can make in the bedroom, including easy changes to cleaning, purchases, and habits.
Choose energy efficient ENERGY STAR® labeled products when purchasing electronics for your bedroom,
- DVD Player
- Cordless Telephone
ENERGY STAR® products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
For more information on ENERGY STAR labeled electronics, go to:
When choosing furnishings for your bedroom, from the furniture to decorations, consider environmentally preferable products. Environmentally preferable products are those that are considered to be "greener" overall than their conventional counterparts.
Recycled content is one factor in determining an environmentally preferable product. Consider furniture made from recycled content or reclaimed materials, and pieces made from sustainably harvested materials such as certified hardwood. Other environmental attributes to consider include: reduced energy use during the products production and use; conservation of resources; and reduced impacts to air, water, and land. Furthermore, environmentally preferable products contain fewer or no toxics or hazardous constituents, including those that can result in indoor air quality issues such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products including upholstery, paints and lacquers, adhesives, and solvents. Some VOCs contribute to outdoor smog, as well as indoor air pollution. Formaldehyde is an example of a common VOC that is used in the manufacture of furniture and materials, including most types of particleboard (used as shelving, in cabinetry, and furniture); hardwood plywood paneling (decorative wall covering, cabinets, and furniture); and medium density fiberboard (used for drawer fronts, cabinets, and furniture tops). Other types of VOCs include benzene, xylene, toluene, to name just a few. Look for products that contain low or no--VOC finishes and adhesives.
EPA launched the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) program to help the federal government "buy green," and to stimulate demand for green products and services. Environmentally preferable purchasing means including environmental considerations into buying decisions, along with traditional factors such as performance and price. EPA's EPP Program has summarized information about popular environmentally preferable products and services, including environmental attributes to look for, procurement guidance, tools, case studies, and other useful resources. Although geared towards the federal government (and its own institutional, mainly non-residential, buildings), this program can also help consumers identify EPP products and places to buy them.
For a database of environmental information on EPP products, including furnishings, go to:
PLEASE NOTE: Linking to this database does not constitute "endorsement" of these products or companies on the part of the EPA.
When choosing the type of flooring for your bedroom, you should consider environmentally preferable products, whether it be carpeting, wood floors, tile, or another alternative.Carpeting
Many people are aware of the health and environmental concerns associated with carpet, including
indoor air quality, chemical emissions from manufacturing and disposal operations, and solid waste
impacts. A variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be emitted from carpet itself or from
accompanying materials (e.g., adhesives used during installation), particularly if installed
improperly (although VOC emissions from new carpet typically fall to very low levels within
48 to 72 hours after installation when accompanied by good ventilation). In addition, over
four billion pounds of carpet enter the solid waste stream in the U.S. every year, and the
bulky nature of carpet creates collection and handling problems for solid waste operations.
The variety of materials present in carpet makes it difficult to recycle, although several
carpet manufacturers have instituted take-back and recycling programs. When choosing a carpet,
some environmental attributes to look for include:
- Low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- No toxic dyes
- Sustainably grown/harvested material (i.e. wool carpeting)
Find out if the product has met the Carpet and Rug Institute's (CRI) Green Label/Green Label Plus (GLP) requirements. The Green Label program specifies emission limits for certain chemicals from carpet, cushion, and adhesives, and provides a list of manufacturers who have met the standard. The Carpet America Recovery Effort can provide information and advice on recycling and other options for your old carpet.
For more information on using environmentally preferable carpets in your home, go to:
PLEASE NOTE: Linking to these lists does not constitute "endorsement" of these products or companies on the part of the EPAOther Flooring Alternatives:
Should you decide to have a non-carpeted floor, consider floors made of sustainably grown or harvested materials, such as cork or certified hardwoods. In addition, consider using reclaimed lumber as a wood flooring option. Hundreds of building material reuse stores sell high-quality flooring salvaged from construction and renovation projects. Most stores are open to the public. The Building Materials Reuse Association's Web site contains a directory of member reuse stores. Habitat for Humanity operates many reuse stores around the country. Online marketplaces for these materials, such as PlanetReuse.com and AmericanBuilderSurplus.com, provide listings for reused and recycled materials. If you decide to tile your floor, remember to used low-VOC adhesives and sealants, and consider using tiles made of recycled content.
It is increasingly common for manufacturers to make green claims about flooring.
However, you should do a bit of research to determine if flooring alternatives advertized
as green really are. Some things to look for include:
- Certification -Wood that is labeled as sustainably harvested should carry a well-known certification.
- Sealing and coating chemicals -Avoid flooring coated or sealed with a formaldehyde-based chemicals, which emit VOCs, or polyurethane, which contains a class of chemicals that cause or aggravate asthma (diisocyanates). And ask the retailer or supplier how they assess the validity of formaldehyde-free claims.
- Shipping distance -A long shipping distance reduces the environmental attributes of flooring due to transportation energy use and GHG emissions, especially for heavy materials such as flooring.
- Maintenance -Consider maintenance issues when selecting your flooring materials, and avoid options that require frequent maintenance or harsh chemicals for cleaning or waxing.
A special note about bamboo: Bamboo is currently very popular because of its aesthetics and its green reputation, which is based on the fact that bamboo is fast-growing and bamboo harvesting does not destroy the bamboo root system. However, much bamboo is imported and has a long shipping distance. Due to the popularity of bamboo, it is increasingly displacing forested areas. In addition, bamboo strips are commonly sealed with formaldehyde-based chemicals. Finally, bamboo lacks the certification systems established for wood flooring. Thus, although some bamboo may be truly "green," homeowners need to investigate the source of bamboo and make their own assessment about the bamboo's attributes relative to alternatives.
Using Environmentally Preferable Cleaners
Cleaning products are necessary for maintaining healthful conditions in the home. But many cleaning products can present health and environmental concerns, including eye, skin, or respiratory irritation, or more serious issues.
When purchasing cleaners, look for signal words on product labels. Try to avoid most products labeled Danger/Poison (indicating that they can be lethal when ingested in very small quantities), as well as products labeled as Corrosive, Severely Irritating, Highly Flammable, Highly Combustible, or Strong Sensitizer. Also, when possible, try to select cleaning products that are labeled as low-VOC, readily biodegradable, bio-based (such as citrus- or pine-based products), and solvent-free. Some products' environmental claims have been verified and certified by a third-party group (such as Green Seal or Scientific Certification Systems).
Several simple, non-toxic, and inexpensive household substances can also be very effective for most types of household cleaning jobs; these substances include white vinegar, baking soda, mild liquid (e.g., castile) soap, lemon juice, and borax. (Note that vinegar and lemon juice are acidic, so they are useful for removing mineral deposits and wax or grease build-up, but they should not be used on all surfaces.) Recipes for making natural, non-toxic cleaning formulas are available on the Internet, at Web sites such as thegreenguide.com and care2.com.
Check out EPA's environmentally preferable cleaners Web site for information to help you choose
household cleaners with reduced health risks. For information on specific green household
cleaning products, go to:
EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database of Environmental Information for Products and Services
EPA Design for Environment Program partners and products
National Institutes of Health Household Products Database
PLEASE NOTE: Linking to these lists does not constitute "endorsement" of these products or companies on the part of the EPA.
Reducing Energy Use
There are several things you can do to save energy in the bedroom:
Televisions and other electronic equipment draw power even when they are turned off.
Plug electronics into a power strip and turn off the power strip when not in use.
Use fresh air cooling strategies before air conditioning, including ceiling fans and
window fans. If you install a room air conditioner, choose one that carries the
- Replace bulbs with EnergyStar labeled bulbs.
- Turn out the lights when you are not in the room.
- Regular cleaning - Dust mites, pollens, animal dander, and other allergy-causing agents can be reduced through regular cleaning. For instance, vacuum your carpet and fabric-covered furniture regularly to reduce dust buildup, preferably using a vacuum that has a HEPA (High efficiency Particulate Air) filter.
- Professional carpet cleaning - When having carpets professionally cleaned, find a service that uses a non-chemical and low-water process, and run fans afterwards to make sure that the carpeting dries quickly.
Choose durable products and materials -
Choose durable items (including clothing and furniture) that are less likely to wear out or
break prematurely. Although durable products may cost more initially, their extended
life span often offsets the higher cost, and saves money over the product's life.
Buy locally or regionally produced products -
Using locally produced products reduces the demand to ship materials typically sourced and
manufactured long distances from their ultimate use. This helps support the local economy
as well as reduce air emissions.
Choose sustainably grown/harvested materials -
Choose sustainably harvested wood and materials made of a rapidly renewable resource
(e.g., wool bedding, fiber clothing) or organically grown materials (e.g., organic cotton bedding).
Buy used or repurposed goods -
You can find good furniture, clothes, accessories, and other used bedroom items at your
local thrift store, antiques store, and online.
- Donate or sell used items - Consider donating any used clothes or furniture you no longer want to a charity, or selling them to a consignment or thrift store or at a garage sale or on a internet-based community resources, such as the Freecycle Network, Craigslist, and eBay.
For additional information on green products and materials, go to:
EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) - http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/epp/
EPA Sustainability Program: Materials links - http://www.epa.gov/smm/
Link to Whole House for information on windows and doors, heating and cooling, air sealing, insulation, hot water heating, and lighting.