Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 to increase awareness about the environmental problems facing the planet. This year, Earth Day is on April 22, and it’s the perfect opportunity to make some changes around the house to not only help the environment, but also to save some money. Seven ? tips for making your home more green follow.
Change your lights, change your life
Replacing traditional lightbulbs with LED bulbs can reduce energy costs, as well as reducing waste. LED bulbs last an average of 10 times longer than traditional bulbs, and use 75 percent less energy. Plus, LED bulbs are less harsh on the eyes.
Choose low-VOC paint
Few smells are as pungent as “new paint smell,” not to mention headache-inducing and allergy-triggering. VOC stands for “volatile organic compound,” and are unstable chemicals that release gasses that can be harmful to people and the environment. When painting rooms in your home, opt for low- or no-VOC paints to eliminate the smell altogether.
Be a(n Energy) Star
Whenever possible, opt for EPA-rated Energy Star appliances. Every Energy Star-labeled product meets the government’s definitions for energy efficiency, meaning you save money, as well as saving the planet. Smart devices can share the responsibility by monitoring energy usage, and recommend ways to curtail energy waste or even check for abnormalities in the way appliances use the energy.
Change your temperature
Turning the thermostat in your home down 3 degrees in colder months, or up 3 in the summer, can cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1,000 pounds annually. Plus, it will have the added bonus of saving money on your electric bill. Smart thermostats are programmable to balance your home’s temperature, which goes a long way toward reducing energy consumption. It’s also a good idea to be sure to close windows when you’re not at home, so the air or heat doesn’t escape.
Utilize as much of the natural light in your home as possible during the day. Arrange seating close to windows, so it’s not necessary to turn on lights during daylight hours.
When you leave the house, unplug as many appliances and electronics as you can. While they stay plugged in, items not in use are sucking up energy, and adding to carbon emissions. It is possible to save up to $200 or more per year on your electric bill just by unplugging items like computers, televisions, printers, or even toasters when they’re not being used.
The best thing you can do to ensure a greener home is start from the ground up! Building your home with certified green practices is a great jumping-off point. Sundog Homes offers green building packages that follow the Green Built NC Homes guidelines. Our spec home at 682 Sand Hill Road in Asheville has been built using the Green Built checklist with an emphasis on thoughtful design.
For example, Icynene spray foam insulation has been sprayed in the exterior walls and crawl spaces to essentially create a giant cooler. The home has an installed tankless water heater, and the 2×6 exterior walls are framed with R-19 batt insulation.
Audit your Energy
If you want to do even more, but you’re just not sure where to start, contact your utility company for a home energy audit. They will assess the amount of energy you currently use, and help you find ways to consume less. They might suggest easy fixes like wrapping windows with insulated plastic during cold months, changing furnace or air conditioning filters every three months, or other suggestions specific to your home’s location.