How to Make Your Home a Fine-Tuned Green Machine

Anyone who searches for green options for their home does so for several reasons:

  • To benefit the environment
  • To save money
  • To improve the health and happiness of their family
  • To increase the value of their home

There are many green suggestions that can do all of the above—some with very little effort and expense and others that are costlier.

The Payback Factor

Before making any change, green or otherwise, look at the payback factor. This is the time it will take for the change to pay back your investment. For instance, if you buy a low-flow showerhead for $30 (based on the high end of prices) and you see a savings of $10 per month on your water bill, the showerhead will have paid for itself in three months.

Replace Old Appliances and Use Them Wisely

Home appliances are estimated to account for 13 percent of a home’s total energy cost. Therefore, outdated and low-efficiency appliances can be a huge drain on a household’s energy usage.

  • If your air conditioner is over 20 years old, then its energy efficiency is most likely far below that of modern models. Consider replacing your air conditioner to see better results on your energy bill. Also be sure to regularly replace filters and clean coils and ducts.
  • Older dishwashers also use much more water than newer models. Not to mention, the fact that modern dishwashers also clean better. Only run your dishwasher when you have a full load to cut down on water waste.
  • Consider line drying all or most of your clothing, and your energy bill will drop dramatically. Your dryer is one of the biggest energy hogs in your entire home.
  • If you must use the dryer, only do so on low heat, with full loads, and always make sure the lint trap is clean so that it runs efficiently.

Updating the Windows and Roof

If you have a drafty home, that means money is racing out of the cracks and openings in your home. Consider having an energy audit where a company locates your biggest problem areas. In many cases, the problems will be in the windows. Single pane windows do very little to prevent energy loss and should be replaced.

  • Double pane windows are expensive, with much of the cost coming from labor, but once they are in place, they can save as much as $200 per month in heating and cooling costs.
  • These windows will not only increase energy efficiency but will add automatic value to your home.
  • Replacing windows in the basement is particularly important due to the drafty nature of a basement as well as the likelihood of water leaking through and causing flooding and foundation problems.
  • Once the new windows are installed, increase the energy savings by opening the blinds during the day to allow the sun to warm the room. Close the blinds at night to retain this heat. Energy efficient drapes are another option and help to stabilize temperature.
  • Cool and warm air can also leak through cracks and gaps in your roof. Make sure to inspect your roof for any of these types of issues. If water is coming through the ceiling or walls, then that is a sign that your roof is in need of repair.
  • There are also special roof coatings that can be applied to your roof that reflect heat from the sun to help lower your home’s temperature and cut down on energy usage.

Solar Panels

It is a myth that only warm climates benefit from solar panels—some areas simply need more delicate placements than others. There are a number of factors that will affect the initial cost of the panels as well as the benefits that you will see from them. Weigh the pros and cons very carefully.

  • Since proper placement is vital to solar energy, it is important to have a professional review your home and roof to determine where you will want to face your panels.
  • Some people use solar batteries for nighttime use—collected energy is stored in these batteries during the day so that you do not rely on the utility company at all. If you choose not to do this, you will still use regular electricity once the sun goes down.
  • Typical savings vary based on a number of factors, but the average homeowner should see benefits almost immediately. The solar panels paying for themselves in as little as ten years.
  • Leasing the solar panels is another option to be considered. You pay a set fee to the company, which retains ownership of the solar panels, and in return, that company ensures a certain amount of electricity per month.

After investing in appliances and updates that will make your home more energy efficient, your wallet will reap the benefits for years to come.

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