Collectively, homes in the U.S. have a huge impact on the environment. They used 37 percent of the electricity in the U.S. in 2013, more than the commercial or industrial sectors. Greening up your home will help cut that power consumption and make a positive impact on the environment. Even though the use of solar and wind power increases every year, electricity produced with gas and coal still dominates.
Increasing the amount of insulation in the attic goes a long way toward cutting your energy usage year-round. It’s one of the easiest, affordable and durable ways to slash your energy consumption, which cuts greenhouse gases emitted from power plants. Homes with inadequate insulation in the attic lose heat quickly in the winter and gain it in the summer. Since cooling and heating bills comprise about half of your energy usage year-round, reducing the heat transfer from the attic makes financial and environmental sense.
Planting Trees and Shrubs
Deciduous trees and shrubs placed strategically in your yard will shade your home in the summer and let the sun warm it in the winter. They also help the environment by using excess carbon dioxide, the most common gas contributing to climate change. Choose plants native to your climate to minimize the care and supplemental water they need once they’re established.
Sealing Air Leaks
Air leaks drive up conditioning costs in proportion to the size and number. They’re often found around windows, exterior door frames, places where pipes and wires enter the home, the foundation and attic. Fireplaces may have leaky dampers inside the chimneys, and ductwork leaks are common with forced-air HVAC systems.
Caulk, expanding foam and weather-stripping will seal most air leaks. Fireplace balloons will stop air leaks up the chimney when you’re not using it. Make sure you have energy efficient doors for your home so no air leaks out at your home’s entrance.
New thermal or Energy Star windows will cut energy consumption measurably. By itself, glass has no ability to resist temperature change. When you upgrade to energy efficient windows, your energy bills will drop. Look for dual-pane low-e windows rated for your location. Homes in northern climates need to hang onto indoor heat, while homes in the south need to resist heat from entering. All zones need windows with low air infiltration.
These are tried and true ways to make your home more environmentally friendly by making it more energy efficient. Although they involve some effort and expense, you’ll make it up by having lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint.
Image Credit: Pixabay
Emma Sturgis, the authour of this post, is a freelance writer from Boston, MA