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Tips to Make Your Home More “Green”

April 24, 2009

We hope this information will give you some ideas on how to save money and at the same time help save our environment. 

Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs:  Replace your incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).  By replacing even your five most frequently used light bulbs, you’ll save $100/year.  If every family in the USA did this, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by one trillion pounds!

Program Your Thermostats:  Save 10% on your heating and cooling costs just by setting your thermostat back when you’re not home and while your sleeping.  Program your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher in the summer and 62 degrees or lower in the winter.  Remember programmable thermostats only save money if you program them! 

Plug Air Leaks:  Air leaks are the greatest energy waster in the home, but they can be simple to seal.  Install weather-stripping and caulking to stop those expensive drafts and improve comfort.  Look for gaps around windows, doors, electrical outlets, utility penetrations and around penetrations in the floor of the attic.  If you have a pull-down stairs or whole house fan located in the floor of the attic, install an insulation box above each to prevent energy loss.  If you do not use the whole house fan, consider removing the fan and installing sheetrock to eliminate the hole in your ceiling!

Tune-Up Your HVAC:  HVAC maintenance is the key to healthy and efficient heating and cooling.  Get a professional tune-up each year.  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. 

Go Low-Flow:  Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to save resources without sacrificing water pressure.  An efficient showerhead will save a family of four up to $285.00/year.  Exchange your toilets for 1.6/1.4 gallon per flush types.  The newer technology also provides two button types, which use even less water by giving flushing options for all liquids versus solids in the bowl. 

Optimize Your Water Heater:  Water heating accounts for 20-25% of an average household’s annual energy expenditures.  If you don’t have one already, put an insulative jacket around your water heater and insulate the waterlines  around the water heater.  If using a gas water heater, remember to keep the insulation pulled away from the flue on top of the water heater.  Also, consider turning the thermostat on the water heater down to 120 degrees. 

Plant a Tree:  Shade trees can significantly lower your cooling costs by up to 25%.  In addition, properly placed trees and shrubs act as windbreaks, shielding your home from cold winds and reducing heating costs by 20%. 

Buy Energy Star:   When replacing your appliance, 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. 

Request a Blower Door Test:  A blower door test will uncover the hidden holes and cracks that are the main source of energy loss in your home.  For example, an open fireplace damper can let 8% of your heating costs slip out the chimney.  A certified Home Energy Rater (HERS) can conduct the test and also provide you with the information you need to make your home more efficient and comfortable. 

Check Insulation:  Make sure there are no areas in your attic floor with inadequate insulation.  Creating an effective building envelope starts with adequate insulation, especially at the ceiling levels in the home.  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 and also create comfort issues.

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