It's very chic to be "green" these days. But what this actually means has many interpretations. So the first thing I would like to posit is that being "green" doesn't have to be expensive, isn't necessarily sexy and you don't have to buy a lot of new stuff to call yourself environmentally conscious. As a home owner, buyer or seller there are simple things that you can be aware of that will both SAVE you money and help save our increasingly fragile Mother Earth. So on this blog I will offer you some options that will help you to take baby steps towards greening your life. I will give you ideas that will help you to become a more responsible steward of the earth that are practical and attainable. Much of what I will write here will be related to home ownership however I will also offer ideas that relate to life and living in general. I will welcome any comments and ideas that you have.
Energy efficiency is the very first line of defense in combating climate change. Most homes are not particularly efficient in their energy use. Nearly half of the average homes energy bills each year is for heating and cooling. The average annual energy bill is $1400. And a lot of that money literally goes right out the windows to heat and cool the outside. Energy efficient windows can go a long way in reducing energy waste and costs. So if you're budgeting for home improvements put the new kitchen on hold and replace those leaky old windows. Energy efficient windows, doors and skylights can reduce energy costs by 15%.
If your budget doesn't allow for replacing all your windows there are less expensive ways to improve energy efficiency. Caulking and Weatherstripping is an inexpensive and not very sexy way to keep your hard earned cash inside your house (or in the bank). Tip: Remove old caulking before you re-caulk and make sure the temperature is above 45° Fahrenheit when you do it. Weather stripping should be applied between the sash and the frame and not interfere with the operation of the window. Strategically placed shading awnings and even landscaping (trees) can help reduce heat gain in the summer months.
If you choose to replace windows keep in mind that Energy Star rated windows are tailored for four different climate zones.
For great information on energy efficient windows check out this DOE article:
Tip: Home buyers can finance new windows into a mortgage with an energy efficient mortgage. Home owners can get a federal tax credit for installing energy efficient windows. Find out more here:
Here's a light bulb moment for you. Change those light bulbs. CFLs (Compact Florescent Light bulbs) CFLs use 75% less energy and save about $30 over the lifetime of the bulb. They also produce about 75% less heat and so are safer to handle and reduce cooling costs. Once difficult to find, you can now buy them in Home Depot, Lowes and even CVS Pharmacy.
FACT: If every home in the US replaced only one incandescent light bulb with a CFL it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to 800,000 cars!
FACT: The small amount of mercury in CFLs is not dangerous. It would take 100 CFLs to contain the amount of mercury in an older thermometer. Manufacturers of CFLs are expected to reduce even that small amount significantly this year.
For more information: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=cfls.pr_cfls
I hope you find my first Green Blog helpful and again I welcome your questions and comments.