Making Your Home an ECO-Home
There are several ways to save money while at the same time do the environment a favor by improving the energy efficiency of your home. You simply need to be aware of how you can change your habits and most effectively optimize the energy use and efficiency in your home.
Below are some ideas to consider when going green; by following this advice you will save money and reduce environmental impact in the process.
- Turn down your water heater and you will save on the cost of heating water to higher temperatures which are unnecessary
- Unplug unused chargers and stop drawing energy when they are not being used
- Install CFL’s – these spiral-shaped light bulbs are known as compact fluorescents; they use less than a third of the energy of regular bulbs and last ten times longer. They will pay for themselves in lower energy bills after a few months.
- Install low-flow water fixtures to reduce the unnecessary a heavy flow of water from your taps and showers
- Upgrade to energy star appliances that were designed by the EPA to be energy efficient
Turn Down Your Water Heater
- Who doesn’t enjoy a long, hot shower after a long, hard day? Unfortunately, it’s also true that hot water heaters are big energy and dollar guzzlers.
- But take heart: Lowering the temperature on your water heater from 140 to 120 degrees will reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10%. Give it a try. Many people find that tweaking the dial to save energy and money can become addictive.
- Viorika Prikhodko / Istock
Unplug Unused Chargers
- Even when they aren’t charging anything, plugged-in cell phone, laptop and other chargers continue to draw electricity. Americans throw away about 8% of our annual electric bills this way, wasting billions of dollars.
- The solution is simple: just unplug them, or plug them into a surge protector and flip that switch when your device has pulled enough juice.
- Steve Beckle / istock
- The little spiral-shaped bulbs known as compact fluorescents use less than a third of the energy of regular bulbs and last ten times longer, paying for themselves in lower energy bills within months. If every U.S. household replaced just one regular bulb with a CFL, the amount of energy saved could light 2.5 million homes for a year.
- The good news is CFLs now come in a variety of colors and styles, including flood lights, candelabra sizes and much more.
Install Low-Flow Water Fixtures
- Decades ago, toilets used 5 gallons per flush, but these days more efficient models are readily available. So-called low-flow models use less than a gallon, and work great. American Standard, Toto and Kohler are leaders in the field.
- Also save water and money, and still have ample water pressure, with a low-flow showerhead, which can slash bathing-water consumption 50 to 70 percent. The devices are simple to install and start at around $8. Low-flow faucets are also a great option.
Upgrade to Energy Star Appliances
- Energy Star was designed by the EPA to take the guesswork out of appliance buying. Look for the blue-and-white label, which means the item is at least 10-50% more efficient than standard models (depending on the class of product). That means lower energy bills and less pollution.
- More than 18,000 products in 35 different categories are covered in the Energy Star program, and most major manufacturers participate. Energy Star is a fixture in the showrooms of most retailers coast to coast.
Put in Low-Water Plantings
- Green carpet’ grass lawns take a huge amount of water in dry climates, which leads to both high water bills and a lot of hassle and worry. Plus, the possibility of mandatory water restrictions means the yard may end up looking like a barren wasteland.
- Instead, plant drought-tolerant native shrubs, trees and grasses. They won’t require nearly as much water and will serve as habitat for local wildlife. Using low-water plantings even has a catchy name: xeriscaping.
- In desert climates, cacti and similar plants, especially native ones, can add great beauty. You can also use stones, rocks and other features to add interest.
Get Smart About Heating and Cooling
- With high prices for heating fuels and electricity stalking the nation, it’s good to know that there are some easy ways to save money in the area of climate control. That’s significant, given that most households shell out 50 to 70% of their energy budgets on heating and cooling, according to the Department of Energy.
- What to do? Simply installing a programmable thermostat will save you approximately $150 a year, according to the EPA — that means it will pay for itself in just a few months. In warm temperatures, resist the temptation to set the air conditioning too low, and be vigilant with heating when it’s chilly.
- Aiming for 78 degrees or higher when you’re at home while reduce your cooling loads 10-20%. When you’re away, make it 85 degrees and save an additional 5-12%. In colder weather, for every degree you lower the thermostat, you’ll save between 1 and 3% of your heating bill.
Use low-water plantings outside your home that require less water than other types of plants that are non-native to the environment that you live in
- Complete a home energy audit to check for cracks in caulking, efficient sealing on ducts and windows; use draft snakes that can save up to 10% on cooling and heating and costs.
- Install a programmable thermostat and use it to cut the heat in wintertime while you’re away from home working or when sleeping. this can quickly save you money
- Additional insulation in ceilings, attics and walls can save up to 30% on heating and cooling costs
- Heavy drapery can help to insulate the home in the window areas where heat is most likely to escape and the cold to enter. The drapery will also provide a barrier to sunlight in the summer which can cause unwanted heat in the home