Going from Guzzler to Green: 4 Possible Makeovers for Creating an Energy-Efficient Home
No matter what color the paint on the side of your house may be, every home could stand to be a little more “green.” The truth is that homes are some of the leading contributors to global climate change and, unless we start making some pretty big corrections soon, we’re going to find out what it’s like to live in a world where 100° is considered cool weather. Luckily, you won’t have to purchase a new house just to find something a little more eco-friendly; a few remodeling projects and some helpful gadgets will go a long way to giving Mother Earth a helping hand. Here are four things you can do to turn your home into a lean, mean, green-machine.
Replace your incandescent bulbs
Conventional light bulbs are rather amazing. They use the controlled “burning” of a tungsten filament surrounded by inert gas to create sustained visible light. But despite the neat science behind this great invention, the fact of the matter is that they are wasteful and inefficient. The average bulb only converts about 10% of its electrical energy into visible light, with the rest bleeding out as unwanted heat. At the same time, incandescent bulbs tend to only last about 1,000 hours, which may seem like a lot, until you realize that those hours translate into less than two months total of continued use. New LED lights tend to last a little bit longer. In fact, depending on whom you talk to, they could conceivably last 25,000 hours before needing to be replaced, which is about two decades longer than a conventional bulb. Also, they use 80% of their energy for light. Thus, a house with LED bulbs will be able to cut back on energy use and waste, all at once.
Replace your plumbing fixtures
Most people are perfectly happy using the plumbing that came with their homes. The problem is that unless your home was built within the last few years, there’s a pretty good chance that your plumbing fixtures are wasting much more water than they need to be. For example, toilets account for nearly 30% on average of the water used in the home according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Showers and baths make up another 20%. By simply replacing these inefficient fixtures, you can cut down on your water use significantly. High efficiency toilets are able to do the job of regular toilets, but by using 20% less water. Low-flow shower heads can get you clean with 70% less water. Both are inexpensive to purchase, relatively easy to install, and guaranteed to help you save the planet. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, “If one out of every 100 American homes were retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, that would save about 100 million kWh of electricity per year—avoiding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions: equivalent to removing nearly 15,000 automobiles from the road for one year.”
Get a high-efficiency furnace
Furnace technology has come a long way. Older furnaces have been known to waste 35% off their fuel according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Home. New models, however, are able to reach efficiency levels upwards of 90%. Purchasing and installing a new furnace may seem like a daunting task, but the returns that you’ll see on your heating bill should more than make up for it.
(Editor plug: In addition to the above tip, another way to cut down your home heating oil costs and improve fuel oil efficiency is to invest in a little Green Plus® for Home Heating Oil.)
Automate your home
Perhaps the best green-makeover you can give to your home comes in the form of home automation. An automated home is one that makes use of various energy and time saving devices, such as smart thermostats that can learn your behavior and habits, occupancy sensing lighting that can turn themselves off when no one is in the room, and smart power strips that can eliminate phantom power drain from appliances that are plugged in but not in use. Several home automation providers offer great home automation packages at affordable prices. Reviews for Vivint, Nest, and other home automation companies have been fairly positive so far, but it’s best to do your research to find which company will fit your situation best. Either way, home automation is a great way to conserve energy in your home while saving money.
Turning your home green does not require any paint, but it does require commitment and effort. So do your part and encourage others to do the same. After all, changing out a few light bulbs is a small price to pay to start saving the world.
Biofriendly Blog wanted to thank David Glenn for his insightful and informative blog post. David is a technology and green enthusiast with over 30 years experience owning his own home-building business. If you would like more information on David or his company, you can contact him on Twitter.