How Green is Your Home?

Electric bills. Water bills. The rates seem to be increasing, as well as the total month’s usage. If you have ever wanted to follow a “greener” footprint, consider changing how your home is impacted by sunlight, heat, leakage, and the use of water. You may be surprised to find eco-friendly practices do not always take fancy gadgets or require great expenses. In the name of saving money, you can rely on the following practices to lessen your home’s impact on the environment

LED Lights: Those who suggest that a compact fluorescent lamp or light (CFL) is energy-saving, are correct; however, it is important to know CFLs also contain toxic mercury, which complicates their disposal, and questions their use. The safest choice is the light-emitting diode, known as a LED light. While a CLF light will last 8,000 hours, LEDs may exceed 24,000 hours, and save you over $500 each year. After you replace a LED light, you can either throw it in the trash or recycle it.

South Facing Windows: We all have one room in our home that is difficult to maintain at a comfortable temperature. Most likely, the room in your home is facing south. Instead of turning up the air conditioning or heat, the solution is to ask, “Do I use blackout drapes, sun-controlled films over the glass, or ask how efficient my windows are?” With other warm rooms in the home, especially the kitchen, a similar thought process can help you stay comfortable and ease your energy bill.

Programmable Thermostat: One of the most useful tools in your home is a programmable thermostat. Depending upon the season, you can “set” your thermostat to a comfortable temperature while you are in the home, and thus ease your bill while you are sleeping and at work. With the ease of your smart phone, you can install an “Internet thermostat,” which can be remotely changed by providing new instructions or scheduling each day of the week.

Insulate Your Attic: The attic is one location we rarely venture into, due to the excessive heat of summer or the frigid temperatures of winter. Experts claim the attic can exceed a 50-degree temperature difference. Without a tight seal, the air in your attic can affect your HVAC’s thermostat and increase your usage. The first step is to ensure your attic is properly insulated. If you are seeking the ability to use the space and save money, too, consider investing in an attic fan, and possibly putting foil on the walls and ceiling. Various other options are also available.

Tankless Water Heater: If you have a water heater, the electric or gas will heat up to 70 gallons of water for your eventual use. This implies your water heater is wasting energy. A better option is to install a tankless water heater, which will only heat the water when needed. As a smaller unit, it will last longer and benefit your overall annual savings.

Energy-Efficient Appliances: The Energy Star label verifies to customers that its product—such as a dishwasher, washing machine and dryer, oven or refrigerator—saves water and energy. While sales at certain times of year and rebates are available to reduce the overall cost, there is one factor to consider when buying Energy Star gas appliances. You may say, “Our home does not accommodate gas.” But think about how many times your home has lost power in the last two years, and your solution. If you had gas appliances and a gas tankless water heater, your family would be able to remain comfortable in the home, use water, have the ability to eat “normal meals” and sleep in their bedrooms.

Rainwater Collection: As homeowners transition from shingled to metal roof systems and gutter guards, clean rainwater is running no further than either to an underground pipe or saturating one location in both corners of the home. How often are you using hoses to water your vegetable and flower garden, trees and potted plants? One eco-friendly solution is to start collecting your annual rainwater. Would you also invest in buying a larger tank or an above-ground barrel? Once you see the frequency with which you use the barrel, you’ll soon want something larger, I promise! Take advantage of the gifts Mother Nature provides and look at green living from a different perspective! You, too, can have a “greener” home in more ways than just two or three!