Make Your Home Green
No, you don't have to build a new house to live in a green home. In fact, the greenest--and most affordable--thing you can do is make your own home more energy and water efficient. (Imagine all the materials you are saving by not building a new house). Your home should also have healthy indoor air to be green.
So, do something good for your family, your pocketbook, and the environment. A few simple changes in your house can go a long way to combat both high energy bills and global warming. To be green, you've got to be efficient.
Top 10 Ways to Make Your Home Green
1. Use CFLs
Replace your incandescent light bulbs (the cheap ones you probably got at the grocery store) with ENERGY STAR® qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). By replacing even your five most frequently used light bulbs, you'll save $100 per year. Find out exactly how much you can save (pdf). If every family in the U.S.A. did this, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by one trillion pounds--there are 12 zeros in a trillion! More on energy-efficient lighting.
HVAC maintenance is key to healthy and efficient heating and cooling. Get a professional tune-up every two years. It will cost around $100, but will save 5% to 10% on your heating and cooling bills. Also, clean or replace your filter every month. Dirty filters block normal airflow and significantly reduce the efficiency of the system, which wastes your money.
If you don't have one installed already, put an insulative jacket around your hot water heater, and insulate the pipes around the water heater. Insulative jackets cost between $10 and $20, and you can get pipe insulation for less than $1 for six feet. Also consider turning the temperature on the water heater down to 120 degrees. It will save you money and prevent scalding.
7. Plant a Tree
Shade trees can significantly lower your cooling costs by up to 25% . They also make your home more comfortable, and provide habitat for song birds. In addition, properly placed trees and shrubs act as windbreaks, shielding your home from cold winds and reducing heating costs by 20%.
8. Buy ENERGY STAR
When replacing your appliances, select ENERGY STAR qualified products. When replacing your water heater, furnace, or air conditioner, you should also select ENERGY STAR qualified products. You will save 10-30% on the operating costs vs. non-ENERGY STAR equivalents. Find out exactly how much you save.
11. And a Bonus...Check Insulation
Make sure that there are no areas in your attic floor with inadequate insulation. Insulation is your 'Great Wall of China' against heat loss. Imagine the effectiveness of the Great Wall in protecting against invaders if it had a 300 foot gap in it, or only stood a couple of feet high. Insulation works the same way. Even a small area with limited or no insulation, or insulation that has been damaged or compressed, can significantly decrease the effectiveness of the area's insulation. How much insulation do you need? Follow the Department of Energy's recommendations.
Find out more about green building, including tax incentives and other rebates to make your upgrades more affordable.
Content updated on 2/27/2007