Start small, and soon your efforts will snowball, saving you substantial money.
Are you doubtful that your conservation efforts can make a difference in the grand scheme of greening? Does modifying your home seem like a monumental task? Just one lifestyle change has a powerful impact on our planet. Many solutions are easy to implement and will save you money long-term. Here are five to launch your transition to an eco-friendly home.
1. Power down
The Department of Energy reports that five to 10 percent of home electricity is sapped by devices that stay plugged in round-the-clock. Computers deplete considerable power, even in stand-by mode. Other energy vampires are washers, dryers, TVs, VCRs, DVD players, radios, stereos, cordless phones, coffeemakers, toasters, and lamps.
It may be impractical to unplug devices where outlets are hard to reach. However, you can connect the appliances to power strips. Then, you can shut off devices with the flick of a switch.
2. Swap bulbs
Many websites giving green advice recommend changing from incandescent light bulbs (ILBs) to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). In fact, in four years, ILBs will be off the market. According to The Simple Dollar, a ban on ILBs that began in 2014 will be complete by 2020. While it’s important to keep ILBs out of landfills, CFLs have five shortfalls:
- CFLs contain mercury, a hazard for both the environment and people if they break. For this reason, when the bulbs burn out, you must bring them to a recycling center.
- They must warm up to reach peak illumination, so they’re not suitable for areas where you need prompt, bright light, such as a dark stairway.
- CFLs are subject to defects that allow ultraviolet light to leak, posing a threat of skin cancer when used at a distance of less than 1 foot.
- They aren’t compatible with dimmer switches.
- In cold temperatures, CFLs are either too dim or don’t work.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) don’t pose these problems. They last five times longer than comparable bulbs and work with dimmer switches. The only downside is their cost. Amazon.com sells a 6-pack of 60-watt LEDs for $18.15, roughly $3 per bulb. However, when you consider their longevity, you reap enormous savings. According to The Simple Dollar, by replacing 20 incandescent bulbs with LEDs, you can save roughly $3,260 over their lifespan of 23 years.
3. Eliminate leaks
The EPA calculates that leaky toilets and faucets can waste at least 90 gallons of water a day and 10,000 gallons per year, equal to washing 270 loads of laundry. Go through your home and sleuth out the water thieves. Then enlist the help of a plumber to stop the leaks.
If you ignore the drips and trickles, your pipes can incur further damage, requiring more expensive future repairs. By fixing water leaks at their onset, you increase the value of your home and its sales appeal. Plumbing is part of home inspection.
Gaps around doors and windows leak air, wasting heat during winter and cool air in summer. Weather stripping can save 10 percent on your heating and air conditioning bills and prevent wasted electricity.
Replacing worn strips is simple. Bring a piece with you to a home improvement store so you can match it. To remove the stripping from a newer door, just pull it out of the groove in the door casing. An older door may have strips nailed in place, removable with a hammer.
To apply new weather stripping, cut it to the proper length. On a new door, insert it into the groove. You can retrofit an older door with self-adhesive foam or rigid strips nailed in place. Here’s a brief how-to clip.
4. Reduce water usage.
The EPA advises that if every US household used water-efficient fixtures, our country would save 3 trillion gallons of water and $18 billion dollars per year. Low-flow fixtures conserve water without diminishing performance. WaterSense products, endorsed by the EPA, are 20 percent more water-efficient than average fixtures.
A WaterSense label indicates that a fixture meets strict EPA criteria for efficiency and quality. By having one installed, you can save over $110 annually on your water bill and $2,200 over the life of the toilet. You’ll also be conserving roughly 13,000 gallons of water per year. Utilities provide rebates and vouchers that lower the purchase price.
HomeAdvisor states that the average cost of replacing a toilet is $361, though prices can range between $213 and $508. Installed by a plumber, the job should take two hours.
If you take 7-minute showers daily with a water-efficient showerhead, you’ll use 60 percent less water. You’ll save 175 gallons per day and 2,000 gallons per year. A low-flow showerhead won’t compromise the strength of your water stream.
Replacing a showerhead is easy. With the faucet turned off, twist the fixture to the left using a wrench or pliers. Once removed, clean the pipe threads with a damp rag. Then insert the new showerhead, and twist it to the right.
5. Install a geothermal system
Geothermal energy is generated by a ground-fed climate system that both heats and cools your home. Having one installed reduces utility costs and fossil fuel use.
With an HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) system, a pump uses considerable energy to move heated and cooled air. The pump transfers heat between outdoor air and your home.
A geothermal system moves heat from below ground level to your home. Installation begins with burying a pipe at a depth of 10 feet. At this depth, below the frost line, the ground temperature hovers at 57°F. The pipe serves as a conduit for fluid.
Inside your home, a pump pushes water through the pipe to the geothermal unit, serving as both a furnace and air conditioner. The unit contains refrigerant and the underground heat to modify air temperature. Standard ducts then circulate the air. An added device termed a “desuperheater” uses excess heat to further warm water at no additional cost.
A geothermal system reduces the amount of energy required to keep your home comfortable. Think of cooling a Florida home on a 100°F day or warming a Michigan residence on a 0°F night. When you start at 57°F, less energy is needed to get up to speed.
An HVAC company can do the installation for you. Choose a contractor that guarantees their work and warranties the parts used, such as One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning.
Easy Being Green
Kermit, the puppet frog, laments that it’s not easy being green. Perhaps it isn’t for amphibians, but it is for human beings. Start small, and soon your efforts will snowball, saving you substantial money. Simultaneously, you’ll reduce pollution and the wasteful use of natural resources. Hop to it, and you’ll reap immediate benefits!
Meghan Belnap, the author of this article, is a freelance writer from Oklahoma.
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