AFFORDABLE GREEN LIVING
We can remodel our homes as frequently as we like, from changing the color of the walls to the brand of appliances, even altering the entire décor if the mood hits us. Unfortunately, we do not have that same luxury with our planet. We will not have the opportunity to reface or upgrade our natural resources when they are near depletion, so we need to take precautions now to ensure the health of the planet for future generations.
You already know this, of course; you are a responsible individual and always separate your trash for recycling, but did you also know there are a few more simple and inexpensive ways to make your home more energy efficient? These easy steps can also help your family save money – and in today’s economy, every penny is precious.
1. Swap out your old appliances
According to ENERGY STAR®, the refrigerator is the single biggest energy-consuming kitchen appliance. Unlike the microwave or the dishwasher, the refrigerator is constantly running to ensure that food maintains its freshness. Swap out your old appliance for an ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerator, like the Epicure® 36” Built-In Refrigerator, which uses 20% less energy than required by current federal standards with a high-efficiency compressor, improved insulation and more precise temperature and defrost controls.
2. Replace your incandescent light bulbs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs are four times more efficient and last longer than incandescent lighting. Fluorescent light bulbs use 80% less power and have a life space of up to 10,000 hours compared to 1,000 hours for an incandescent bulb.
If you do not want to give up the soft glow of an incandescent bulb, try replacing your standard 75-watt or 60-watt bulb with a 71-watt or 57-watt bulb, which are 30% smaller and use considerably less energy.
3. Use water-saving showerheads
Since 1994, all showerheads have been required to use no more than 2.5 gallons of water a minute, less than half that of many older models. Today’s water-saving showerheads will reduce water consumption and lower heating bills t by using less energy to heat less water.
4. Cover windows and seal doors
Your grandmother was right. Stop trying to heat the entire neighborhood. A great portion of home heating bills can be attributed to heat lost through windows and doors. By simply replacing damaged caulk and weather-stripping or weatherizing windows with plastic, you can reduce heating costs by keeping the heat you want inside and the cold air you do not want outside.
In the colder months, closing shutters, blinds, curtains and draperies can help save energy by blocking cold air. Also, opening blinds and curtains during the day will allow the natural light to warm the space.
5. Use a programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats help reduce energy costs during times of low usage: during the day when no one is home and at night when everyone is asleep. You can program the thermostat for higher temperatures when you are away in warmer months or lower the temperature in cooler months to save energy. However, it is important to remember not to set the thermostat higher than you want. Raising the temperature will not cause the home to heat faster and the furnace will have to run longer than necessary.
6. Turn off appliances when not in use
A simple rule of thumb is if you are not using it, turn it off or even better, unplug it. From lights to televisions to appliances and computers, if you are not using them, be sure to turn them off or it’s a waste of energy. Even though your monitor and hard drive is asleep, it still requires a significant amount of energy to keep the lights on and the computer fan running.
7. Use reusable cloth bags at the supermarket or reuse the old plastic ones
In addition to reducing waste, many supermarkets offer 5 to 10 cent credits if you use your own bag.
8. Enroll in online banking and paperless statements for credit cards and bills.
Aside from the convenience of online banking and billing, by eliminating paper bills, statements and checks, you can help save millions of trees and avoid billions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
To learn about more ways to make your home more energy efficient, visit the U.S. Department of Energy.
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