Keeping a Green Household: Tips and Tricks
If your home wasn’t designed to be a sunlight-harnessing, gray water-using, eco-friendly mecca, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it greener!
Seal and Insulate.
You don’t have to set your thermostat to sub-Arctic temperatures to save a good chunk of money on electric bills in the colder months—promise. Look for drafts by holding a stick of incense to the edges of windows, doors, and areas like corners and chimneys. If the smoke wavers, you’ve got some weather-proofing to do. Caulk where you need to for a quick and effective fix.
A lot of your weather-proofing can be done on the cheap. You can buy window insulation kits for a few bucks at your local hardware store, or you can even hire a pro to come install “low-e” film on your windows. Another way to insulate without making a leak in your wallet: make homemade draft snakes. They’re fun for kids to make, and all you need is scrap fabric and sand or beans for filling.
Finally, invest in some window coverings: opaque curtains or drapes help seal heat in during the winter and keep things cool in the summer. If your home doesn’t have carpet throughout, find some rugs or carpet so your feet aren’t freezing in winter.
Take Advantage of Government Weatherization Grants.
If you don’t qualify for a low income weatherization grant (which average out to $6500 worth of improvements per household), you can still receive a tax credit for insulating your home. You’ll be reimbursed for up to 30% of the costs (up to $1,500).
Use Your HVAC System Wisely.
Your heating and cooling system can be a life-saver—but it can also kill your budget. Minimize your HVAC use to save energy and money.
Use your ceiling fans to circulate air. If the fan blades turn counterclockwise (the default setting), they’ll circulate cool air. Most fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the blades: clockwise-turning fan blades circulate warm air.
Invest in a programmable thermostat, and make the most of its customization capabilities:
Remember to have your HVAC system checked at least once a year, and change your furnace filter as much as necessary. (Check the filter each month, then change it when needed.)
You can also change your water heater’s settings to minimize wasted energy. Most systems are automatically set at 140 degrees F; set yours at 120 degrees, and you can save 3 to 10% of your energy bill.
If your HVAC system is outdated and is actually wasting energy, upgrade to a newer, Energy Star-certified system. It will save you lots of money in the long run, and you’ll probably get a bit of help from government tax credits or grants for installing an energy-efficient appliance.
Small Steps Lead to Big Energy Savings.
Okay, you might have heard these tips before—but they work.
Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs—they use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer. And as they’ve become more popular, there are plenty of styles to choose from.
Use power strips to charge your electronics. Turn off the power strips when you’re not using them. Easy!
You saw this coming, didn’t you? Turn the lights off when you leave the room. (7 is the magic number: it takes 7 seconds for the act of flipping the light switch off to be more energy-efficient than leaving the light on. If you’re truly just poking your head out of the room, don’t worry about it.) Also, learn to love natural lighting and you’ll keep your eyes from getting tired and your bank account from becoming depleted.
Check Your Progress.
It’s great to have goals, but they’re easier to stick to when you can actually track your progress on your way to them. Find an energy meter that will tell you just how much energy you’re using—you’
Atom enjoys writing about home, garden, and home improvement. He works in Oklahoma City, OK with Blue Have Pools. Fore more information, visit http://bluehavenokc.com