What’s The Big Deal With “Going Green”?
Whether you are a first time buyer or a seasoned veteran, it is worth remembering that buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you can make, and not just financially. The location, size and style of your house, along with what you choose to do with it, can have a huge impact on your ecological footprint.
Why “Go Green”?
There are a number of important reasons to go green with your home. The most significant being that preserving the world’s natural resources is the responsibility of every individual, both at work and at home.
- Setting a positive example for your community
- Improving efficiency and potentially lowering operating costs in your home
- Providing a cleaner and healthier home environment
You Can “Go Green” One Step At A Time…..
A lot of individuals and families these days are becoming more environmentally conscious. They want to make intelligent choices that conserve resources, preserve our environment, save money and energy. The question they most ask themselves is “where and how do I start??”. Taking small steps is a good way to begin “going green”. Here are a few easy ideas to get the ball rolling.
- Change lighting: Install compact fluorescent light bulbs in your home. They last longer than standard bulbs and use about a quarter of the energy.
- Conserve water: Buy low-flow showerheads that help conserve water.
- Start recycling: Set up a recycling station in your home, separating recyclable items into bins and composting organic materials.
- Need to light your walkway or garden path at night? Go for solar lighting that absorbs energy all day for illumination at night.
- Insulate your water heater. Doing this can save up to 1000 pounds of carbon dioxide and save you up to $40.00 per year. Also, keeping your hot water thermostat at 120 degrees will save up to 550 pounds of carbon dioxide and save you an additional $30.00 per year.
- Insulate hot water pipes so you do not have to run as much water waiting for hot water to reach the faucet.
- Turning off the water while brushing your teeth will save 4 gallons of water per minute. That adds up to 10,000 gallons per year for a family of four.
- Make sure furnace filters in forced air systems are clean. Dirty furnace filters restrict airflow and increase energy use. Cleaning them, or swapping them out each month during the winter can save you up to 5% on your heating costs. Also, schedule an annual checkup before the heat comes on to see that the furnace is properly calibrated.
- Save energy and wear and tear on your hardware by shutting down your computer at night. You’ll save an average of $90.00 of electricity a year. The Department of Energy recommends shutting off your monitor if you aren’t going to use it for more than 20 minutes and the whole system if you aren’t going to use it for more than two hours.
- Water your yard in the morning. The best time to water outdoors is in the morning, both to reduce water waste and to promote healthy plant & grass growth. Morning air is cooler, so less water is lost to evaporation than during the middle of the day. If you water in the evening, you run the risk of promoting fungi and bacterial diseases.
Taking a Bigger Step in “Going Green:. . .
- Insulate your Home. Are you uncomfortably cold in the winter or hot in the summer? Adding insulation creates a more uniform temperature and increases comfort. You may find a lot of energy being wasted right in your own home due to old or poorly installed insulation. You can increase the comfort of you home while reducing your heating and cooling needs up to 10% by investing in proper insulation and sealing air leaks.
- Convert to Solar. Save money in the long run by using a renewable energy source-the sun- to heat your water and home. Using passive solar design techniques to heat and cool your home can be both environmentally friendly and cost effective.
- Appliances. Replacing old, out of date appliances with new, “Energy Saver” appliances that are more efficient will noticeably reduce your yearly energy costs. Old appliances are one of the biggest culprits of wasted energy in our homes today.
- Lighting. Using florescent compact lighting wherever possible will result in long-term energy savings for your family.
- Ducts. Unfortunately, many duct systems are poorly insulated or not insulated at all. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills. Insulating ducts that are in unconditioned spaces is usually very cost effective. Sealing your ducts to prevent leaks is even more important if the ducts are located in an unconditioned area such as an attic or vented crawl space. In the summer, hot attic air can be drawn in, increasing the load on the air conditioner. In the winter, your furnace will have to work longer to keep your house comfortable. Either way, your energy losses cost you money.
- Heating & Air Conditioning. Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and drains more energy dollars than any other system in you home. Regardless of what kind of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system you have in you house, you can save money by properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment. When you are ready to replace an existing unit, remember to always select energy-efficient products when purchasing heating and cooling equipment. Geothermal, hydronic and radiant heating systems are other energy saving options that are worth investigating.
- Windows. Windows can be one of your homes most attractive features. If your home has single-pane windows, as almost half of U.S. homes do, consider replacing them. New double pane windows with high-performance glass (e.g. low-e or spectrally selective) are available on the market. In colder climates, select windows that are gas filled with low emissive (low-e) coatings on the glass to reduce heat loss.