According to the Environmental Protection Agency, buildings in the U.S. account for 39 percent of the nation’s total energy use. Homes and offices have a major impact on the natural environment as well as the economy. This is why “going green” is a popular renovation project for many homeowners. By installing simple solutions, people can reduce their individual carbon footprint while also saving money on monthly utilities.
1. Light bulbs
Replacing incandescent with compact florescent light bulbs is one of the easiest changes you can make in your home. According to the U.S. General Services Administration, CFL’s use one third of the energy of an incandescent bulb and last 10 times longer. They fit in your regular lamp fixtures, so no alterations are necessary. The biggest deterrent is the color. Many homeowners prefer the warm glow of standard bulbs. However, the impact you make by switching is worth the color change.
By fitting your windows with retractable screens, you have control over the amount of light and air that enters your home. This is especially crucial in summer when your air conditioning unit is pumping out cool air. As ultraviolet rays beam through your windows, they increase the temperature of your home in a greenhouse effect. Retracting screens act as indoor climate control by filtering out those UV rays. But best of all you can open your windows, pull down the screens, and enjoy fresh air ventilation without the bother of bugs. Plus, you can turn your a/c off, saving even more energy! For motorized screens, the addition of a sun sensor will automatically deploy the screens when sunlight is detected, preventing excessive amounts of light from entering the home. Your air conditioner’s sensors will tell that the home is cool and, therefore, will not waste extra energy trying to account for sunlight.
Adding retractable screens is one way to reduce the temperature in your home. Another way is to automate your thermostat. Keep the temperature at 78 degrees Fahrenheit or above in the summer and 68 or below in the winter. This will reduce your energy consumption and save you money, even if the few degrees don’t seem consequential. Automatic thermostats will make these changes for you. You can also program the system to cool or warm (depending on the season) during the times of day when no one is home. If you and your spouse go to work and the kids are off to school from 9 to 5, set the system so that your heating or air conditioning takes a break during those hours.
During the winter, change your furnace’s filter monthly. Buildup of dust blocks the airflow, making the unit work harder. If you’re in the market for a new furnace, look for one with an Energy Star seal of approval. These models are energy efficient.
You can also install ceiling fans to avoid using the air conditioning as long as possible.
4. Water fixtures
Water-saving faucets, shower heads and toilets are all over the place nowadays. Replace your existing fixtures with low-flow models. Most water-saving toilets have two functions: one for solid waste and one for liquid. This ensures it won’t get clogged. You can also install aerators on your faucets. These devices spit out air along with water to maintain pressure and reduce consumption by 50 percent.
You can also save water by changing habits. Instead of hosing down your driveway, for example, use a broom. Turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth and do dishes by filling the sink rather than leaving the water running.
Consumer culture is driven by upgrades. The latest phones and newest trends prompt shoppers to buy more and throw out their old items. This habit stocks landfills, creating a dump out of the environment. Change the habits of you and your family by donating, recycling or selling items you don’t use. Rather than tossing that desk, give it to a thrift store. Many thrift shops employ volunteers and raise money for a good cause. Do your research to find a good group.