Whether they’ve ever visited a farm or not, every homeowner has a herd of hogs – energy hogs, that is. The biggest energy hogs are water heaters, HVAC systems, major appliances and lights. If any of these items in your home have a little age on them and you’ve not been giving them regular maintenance, you may be losing up to 50 percent of your energy efficiency. The good news is that you can put your energy hogs on a diet without breaking the bank as you evaluate how to budget for some of the more expensive ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Something as small as what you use to clean with can make a big difference to the environment. Some green cleaning options would be using vinegar as an alternative. Using baking soda as an alternative for any abrasive cleaning that you need to do instead of using a comet type material or maybe using salt in addition to the vinegar are good cleaning alternatives.
If you want to go green with your next remodeling project, you have lots of choices. Whether you want to go with eco-friendly products in your remodel or all the way down to energy efficient appliances and even energy efficient lighting. They can really make your project eco-friendly.
Angie Hicks says, "A great way to improve energy efficiency in a remodel job is just to make sure your house is sealed well. Check for air leaks and that doors and windows are sealed well, vents are sealed well, but also be sure that you’d got a carbon monoxide detector in your house too because you don’t want to get your house sealed too tight and you end up having issues with carbon monoxide. "
Low-ticket ways to go green:
- Programmable Thermostats – Available for as cheap as $30, but a good one on average will cost around $100. Programmable thermostats can automate your home’s temperature to be lower when you’re not there or when you sleep. You can also manually adjust your temperature, and that doesn’t anything but time and attention.
- Seal it up – Seal any window or door drafts to keep you warm air in and the cold air out.
- Paint – Use paints with a low VOC rating, they are better for the environment.
- Insulation – Having the right amount – and right type – of insulation will help your home retain the work your HVAC system does year round, but more than half of homes in the U.S. are not properly insulated.
If you are thinking about going green for your next remodel project, look for highly rated Certified Green professionals. That is someone that’s certified in eco-friendly projects.
Eco-friendly contractor Tony Rubeo explains, "Green seal certified is a third party independent firm and what they do is they look at the product and the services that you offer and if those meet their criteria then you can earn the certification for becoming Green Seal. It’s not a certification that can be bought; it’s earned so it’s strictly by the products and services you offer."
When you are thinking about remodel, also think about energy efficient products; whether it be Energy Star appliances, energy efficient heating and cooling systems, as well as tankless water heaters, for example. And the key to these kind of projects is that you can do them in stages to meet your budget.
We visited with consumer Jud Brouse about the improvements he has been making to his home over time and the benefits he has seen from them. Jud says, “We had done some things a few years ago like we replaced the furnace with a high efficiency gas furnace and we replaced the air conditioner with a high efficiency, but that was partly because we needed to and so we just went to the higher efficiency when we did.” Jud continued, "Another thing we had done was we replaced the insulation in the attic with some new quite thick stuff so they liked that. So between the windows, the furnace, the air conditioner and insulation, we kind of hit all the big things. The year before last for June, July, August, September and October our electric bill was around $800 something and this year it was more like $560. I think it was hotter and we did spend less.”
Higher ticket ways to go green:
- HVAC system – If your system is 10 years or older and is in need of repair, you may be better off with a newer, more energy efficient unit. Ask a reliable local expert and do the math to determine when replacement is most economical.
- Water Heater – Prolong the good life of your heater by emptying a quart of water from it every few months. This will remove sediment that left to build up will reduce the unit’s efficiency. If it’s been working longer than10 years and is having trouble, replacement could be the best option. Talk to a reliable expert and do the math.
- Major appliances – If you are replacing any major appliance, check their Energy Star rating to save on your energy bill.
- Flooring – Bamboo and cork flooring are popular eco-friendly options because of the source material’s ability to regenerate quickly. Hardwood floors are also a good option