21 Environmentally Friendly Home Improvement Choices
Making home improvements not only beautifies your house but also adds to it's value. However, as homeowners become more environmentally conscious they look for ways to improve their homes and make them as "green" as possible. Here is a list of 21 home improvement tips for your home.
1. Install solar panels. Solar heating has been used to warm homes for thousands of years, solar panels are totally modern and very green. They have no moving parts; you set them out in the sun, usually on your roof, hook up the wires and collect power without adding any fuel or replacing worn-out parts.
2. Replace all the standard light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent bulbs(CFB's). Energy-smart bulbs use 70-75% less energy than the incandescent type and last up to ten times longer! For example, by using a 26-watt CFB (equivalent to 100 watt incandescent bulb), consumers can save up to $59 dollars on energy costs over the life of the bulb, which can be anywhere from five to seven years. Add that up all over your house! In Some country's older incandescents are being taken off the market to ensure energy savings.
3. Roof improvements. Research indicates that roof color and the type of material used can help to lower attic temperatures. Light colored tile roofs out perform composite shingles when it comes to decreasing temperatures. If you are thinking about re-roofing your home, consider white tile, which has properties that will help reduce heat gain to your attic.
4. Install a motion detector outside home to replace your outdoor lighting. Outdoor lights left on all night waste energy and disturb wildlife. Light fixtures activated by motion sensors or a timer will keep area well lit and save energy and money as well.
5. Don't waste water. Check your home carefully for leaky faucets and get them repaired as quickly as possible. Use cold water when laundering clothes and adjust your clean threshold if you can. Those jeans of yours can probably be worn a few more times than usual before washing them, and can't that towel be dried off at least one more time before throwing it in the hamper? Make saving water a family affair. Set a good example by teaching your children how to turn off the water while they brush their teeth or take a quick shower.
6. Install low-flow showerheads. They are a worthwhile investment (especially if you live in a rented space because you can take them with you). They cut down on water usage and save energy costs.
7. Create a compost pile in your backyard. Designate a spot in your yard to make a compost pile. Mix food wastes with dirt and use a shovel to turn the pile over every week or so to give it some air. Turn throwaways like eggshells, coffee grounds and spoiled vegetables into rich soil for your flowerbeds and garden. Avoid the temptation to plant rude neighbors and passersby in your compost pile. (This will ruin everything and turn it bitter!)
8. Install an aluminum-clad storm door. This type of door is energy-efficient and will help to insulate the entryway of your home.
9. Some considerations when heating and cooling our homes: Invest in a high-efficiency HVAC system that is Energy Star certified and install it in your home. This will greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted as well as saving greatly on your utility bill. Look for a product with a higher SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio). This means that the product in question meets strict government criteria necessary to be deemed "energy efficient." The standard is 13 SEER, but many heating and air conditioning products have a rating as high as 18 SEER.
10. Clean out your air conditioner filters or replace them regularly. A dirty filter will hamper the airflow, costing you to run your system more. When not at home, adjust the thermostat to accommodate the changing temperatures outside.
11. Consider investing in and installing an automated thermostat. High tech thermostats are well worth the cost, and what you spend, you will get back over time in lower energy bills. It is estimated that you can save about 3% of your heating costs for every degree you lower your thermostat during the winter and up to 6% for every degree you raise it during the summers.
12. Install glass doors for your fireplace. Glass doors are safer than fireplace screens. They also reduce the amount of heat that escapes through the chimney from your home. Use your fireplace for special occasions only as it sends precious heated air right up the chimney (or out the door, if you prefer that phrasing).
13. Use power strips for your home computers. Even after you turn off your computer, power continues to flow to peripherals like printers and scanners. Power strips prevent the energy from being wasted.
14. Install more fans in your home. Exhaust fans serve a very specific purpose. They can pull unwanted heat and humidity from bathroom and kitchen spaces during the summer months. Ceiling fans can help reduce your dependence on air conditioning during the summer and they are helpful in the winter as they can circulate heat down from the ceiling.
15. Do an "Energy Audit" in your home and make a list of what needs to be done to get things up to "green par." Plan the project as a family affair.
16. Insulate your home. Doors and windows are two of the most obvious areas of concern when it comes to home energy conservation. Use weather-stripping. Once air leaks have been detected, doors and windows are usually the first areas that need attention.
17. Seal off unexpected trouble spots. Sometimes the less obvious spots in your home can be a source of energy loss and you will need to be thorough in order to seek out and destroy them! Check out the areas around light switches and electrical outlets.
18. Live by the code of the 3 Rs; Refuse, Reuse and Recycle. Keep these three things in mind whenever you buy, use or discard anything.
19. Stop a leak. Organize a "stop a leak day" on which everyone in your family tightens, insulates, replaces, caulks or does whatever else is necessary to make your home as "watertight" as possible.
20. Add insulation to your hot water heater. Don't forget that the standard water heater found in most homes is on all the time. Adding some extra insulation will save more energy than you would think and knock up to 15% off the costs of heating water.
21. Consider window tinting to reduce the glare of the sun. This has several beneficial and energy-saving effects. First of all, it will reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Tinting will also eliminate up to 99% of damaging ultraviolet rays and reduce the fading of your fine fabrics and furnishings. So what are you waiting for? Let the sunshine in!