Tips to green your home
In today's culture, going green has become more than just recycling and composting; going green has become a movement that has shaped the way people build and use resources in their businesses and homes. If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint while saving yourself money, here are a few ways you can lower your energy consumption and feel good about what you're doing for the environment.
Use CFLs: Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) that are Energy Star qualified. By replacing at least the most frequently used bulbs in your home, you can save up to $100 per year on your energy bill. If you have young children, consider adding a motion or time switch on their bedroom light switch to avoid their lights being left on too much. Be sure to shut off any lights not being used to also help save on your energy bill.
Major appliances: Throughout your home you have many big appliances, such as your furnace, stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, etc, that all consume a lot of energy. If any of these appliances are out of date, consider replacing them with an Energy Star qualified appliance. If you do not have a budget that allows for you to buy new, hire a professional to give your appliances, like a furnace and dryer, some maintenance and tuning to keep them all running smooth and as efficient as possible. When you use your washer, consider washing your clothes in cold water. This uses less energy and many detergents market soaps specifically for washing your clothes in all cold water.
HVAC check-up: Getting your HVAC serviced every two years by a professional will allow your heating (and cooling) system to run smoothly. Changing the filters frequently will also let your system run cleaner and more efficiently. By making sure to maintain, your system will last longer and will save you money in the long run.
Low-flow update:Your bathrooms and kitchen can get a great update by adding in low-flow faucets and showerheads. Low-flow does not mean low-pressure however; installation is as easy as screwing a new head onto your faucets and showers and your water consumption could reduce by up to 50 percent. Not only is this great for the environment, but it's also great for your utility bills.
Small changes, big impact: Don't forget the small but basic things like checking your windows and doors for leaks and checking that your attic and basement are well insulated and sealed. Every bit of heat (or cooling in the summer) that escapes your home is just like tossing money out the door. The loss may seem minimal but will add up over time. Plant trees in your yard to help improve your air quality, cool your home in the summer and act as windbreakers in the winter, all resulting in lower energy costs. When you're doing your next remodel, buy furniture that was harvested and built using sustainable products and repaint walls and décor with low VOC paint. VOC stands for volatile organic compound and can pollute your air with harmful gasses.
There are many changes you can make to your home to help save money and the earth. Share any other changes that you have made to help your home and family go green!
Written by Erik Braunitzer, a ProudGreenHome ACE and a member of the creative writing and web strategy department for Douglas Elliman.
Topics: Sustainable Products