It is Easy to Be Green
By Dena Kouremetis
When that certain lovable Muppet Kermit the Frog sang “It isn’t Easy Being Green” so long ago, chances are pretty good that he wasn’t referring to how easy it is to help the environment.
What is already in place in your home that could be a drain on energy? Is it that old refrigerator in the garage? Did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that one older appliance (such as your trusty old fridge) can cost you as much as $150 more per year than an energy-efficient model?
Turning down the thermostat in cold weather and inching it up during the warm months can save as much as 3-5 percent for each degree adjustment. In fact, as much as 60 percent of your energy bill may be heating and cooling related. Programmable thermostats can make the most prudent adjustments automatically during any 24-hour period but are grossly underused, according to Ron McClure. of the Pleasant Hill, Calif.-based California Home Energy & Comfort Solutions, a company that sends inspectors to perform energy “audits” for homeowners or buyers.
- Get some new clothes for your hot water heater by placing an insulating jacket around it (usually costs under $20) and outfit your pipes for even less.
- HVAC (heating, ventilation and cooling) changes can contribute even more – something as simple as cleaning your furnace’s air filter monthly during heavy usage times can make a big difference.
- Shade your east and west facing windows to prevent the most brutal heat intrusion during summer months. And if your house doesn’t already possess dual-pane energy-efficient windows, why not start replacing those windows slowly, but start with those that receive the most intense sun exposure first?
- Saving heat generating activities such as dishwashers and cooking until the evening hours can help you ease up on cooling costs as well as your local energy grid.
- Using ceiling fans to move air on low speeds (even if TV reality remodeling shows think they’re not fashionable) can permit you to push the thermostat in either direction, providing more circulation of either cool or warm air.
You may love the forceful flow of water at your faucets, toilets and showerheads, but did you know that installing aerators on them could cut your annual water consumption by more than half?
Replacing your incandescent light bulbs with the EnergyStar®-rated compact fluorescent variety all over the house can save you $100 per year, according to the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH), a voluntary partnership between leaders of the homebuilding, product manufacturing, insurance, and financial industries. They calculate that if every family in the U.S. did this, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by one trillion pounds.
Have you bothered to look around your attic space to see if all areas contain insulation? According to PATH, even a small area with limited or no insulation — or even insulation that has been damaged or compressed — can significantly decrease overall effectiveness. The U.S. Department of Energy says that adding insulation to the attic is relatively easy and very cost effective. To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of the insulation. If it is less than R-22 (7 inches of fiber glass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose), you could probably benefit by adding more. Most U.S. homes should have between R-22 and R-49 insulation in the attic.