By now I think just about everyone on the planet has heard about “green this, sustainable that”. The fact is, just about every major manufacturer from auto makers and building suppliers have all been developing and improving their products in order to provide us better, cleaner, more energy efficient products. There are many different levels of “sustainable” or “green.” some are quite complex with a large upfront investment and can take years to re-coup the initial up front cost– others are simple, easy and not all that expensive. I want to share with you 3 easy and relatively cost effective ideas that you can incorporate today in your home so you too can “GO GREEN”
- Let’s start by turning on your lights in your home so we can see what we are doing. Actually, your standard incandescent light bulbs are a huge energy drain and account for about 25% of your homes annual energy use. I recently purchased 10 yr old home that has about 20 halogen can lights throughout. Being a bit taller than average and a bit thin in the hair department (thanks Dad), I could feel the heat from these lights on the top of my head, and could only imagine how my electrical meter spun like a top with the usage. Replace your light bulbs like I did, and install the new LED bulbs. LED bulbs have come down in price and now I feel they are the absolute best option in lighting. I logged on to Costco.com and order the latest greatest dimmable LED bulbs. The bonus now is they don’t look funny or weird, and after the instant PSE rebate, I spent just about 5 bucks per bulb. Each one of my new 10 watt LED bulbs is equivalent to a 60 watt bulb. With one LED bulb lasting around 50,000 hrs, the manufacturers estimate savings of around $266.00 per bulb though the estimated 25yr life span of the LED bulb. The best part of this of course is that it truly is a do-it-yourself “green” project that will pay off instantly.
- Increase your homes insulation. All new green designs and principles emphasize conservation of energy though more efficient building styles. Insulation is one of the easiest ways to create a better energy envelope, thereby lowering your energy cost. You may think your home is already insulated well– but if your home is 20 yrs old or more, your current insulation would not meet the code minimums today. Along with that little factoid, the insulation in your attic settles and compacts and the insulation under your floors often falls down in places, which is no longer performing or giving you the envelope that it once had. In just a day a licensed insulation company such as Masco Contractors Services can blow in additional attic insulation and install additional insulation in your crawl space. Since a more tightly sealed home means the conditioned air will escape your living spaces more slowly, the comfort and energy use will be significantly improved. Now I know what you’re thinking … let me save you a miserable weekend. I’ve done the math and tried it myself, and yes, you can go out and buy the bags of blown in insulation and they (box store) will rent you there machine for free, but it’s not worth it. It’s very hot hard work and there little blower doesn’t really work all that well. Sure, you might save two or three hundred bucks today and if you try it, like me, you will say “that’s the last time I try to save money and do the insulation myself!” Hire it out, have a relaxing weekend sitting in your backyard in the sunshine, and reap the benefit and energy cost savings over the coming years.
- We talked about the energy envelope above and it’s great to do the insulation, but if you still have the old windows and doors, a large portion of all that energy savings could just be flying out those old Doors and windows. Old, worn out Doors and windows are the biggest source of heat loss in your home- Especially if you still have single pane or aluminum windows. Again, energy codes have dramatically increased over the last few years, and window and door manufactures have worked hard to get up to the new energy standards. It’s just remarkable the differences you will instantly feel once you have replaced those old doors and windows. Window replacement is not what I would call a simple DIY project at all. If they are installed incorrectly, your windows may not be sealed and flashed properly. That could actually make them leak during stormy weather, thereby creating issues you simply wouldn’t want to deal with down the road. It’s not a hard complicated job, but its best left to the professionals such as John Erwin Remodeling, Inc.
In the past, most folks thought going green and sustainable living in your home meant that you had to go to the extreme and invest a whole lot of time, money and live as a minimalist. Now though advisements in technology and building science, we know there are super easy cost effective alternatives we can utilize that really have a huge impact in increasing our homes building envelope and efficiency. Manufactures are keeping up and also riding the wave, providing us with better longer lasting products like the LED bulbs I mentioned. I don’t know about you, but for me and I think I’m pretty typical, if it’s easy, looks and feels the same or better, and doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg, it’s a no-brainer, I just do it.