Our home environment is so important, especially when we spend extended time there, and our home is also an investment worth protecting using efficient and green methods.
I have written before about the benefits of a Home Energy Assessment, which can really improve your home and its efficiency. (See “The Importance of a Home Energy Assessment.”)
But there are also ways to roll up your sleeves yourself and start greening your home and your life.
There are common areas in every home that are responsible for the loss of unused energy. By reviewing a few trouble spots here and making a trip to the hardware store you’ll be ready for some simple fixes that can make a great impact.
Some may wonder why in addition to improving the home, you should be conscious of “greening” it?
We live in a time when social and environmental responsibility are becoming important parts of our lives. Not to mention that most states have myriad government rebate programs that help offset costs incurred while making your home more efficient, comfortable, and friendlier to the environment.
How’s Your insulation?
This is a big one, and one that a home energy assessment will address thoroughly. That said, have a look around. Start to notice places in your home, especially in basement and attic spaces, where insulation is exposed, missing, or otherwise compromised. Also take note of the type of insulation used. Common types are fiberglass, cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam, and they each have a different R-value (ability to resist heat leaving your home).
Consider replacing patchy and weak insulation to help your home optimize its use of energy and the flow of hot and cold air throughout.
Stop the Draft
Sealing areas around doors and windows is crucial in your endeavor to make your home more efficient. Here are a few ideas:
- Doors: Install weatherstripping underneath all doors that lead outside. Weatherstripping is easy to buy or DIY and install with the help of Youtube.
- Windows: Apply caulking or weatherstripping to seal window leaks.
- Drapes: Drapes can help insulate on a cold day, or block out the sun’s heat on a hot day. Place them on the sunny side or your house to assist in heating and cooling naturally.
- Ducts: Repair accessible ducts with duct sealant.
Know Your Home
Not all homes are made equal, and some, especially older homes, have features that aren’t optimal for energy efficiency. This includes mail chutes, TV and phone lines, outdoor faucets, laundry vents (outside home), air conditioners, vents, and fans.
Consider swapping to less draft-inducing utilities in your house and keep an eye out for places where electronics and vents pass through walls to make sure they’re sealed.
Green Your Life
While making your home more energy efficient is a great place to start your green journey, it’s also an energy-consuming endeavor. Besides, what’s the point of greening your house if your lifestyle isn’t also changing? Here are a few ways to start small and make a big impact.
- Reduce and Recycle – Shop for materials made with/packaged in reused and sustainable materials. Reuse packaging in DIY projects for your home and garden.
- Compost – Create a zero-waste kitchen by placing food scraps in a sink-side compost bin instead of throwing them away. Plus, it’s amazing and surprising what can be composted!
- Remove Toxins – Opt for non-toxic, animal friendly cleaners instead of harsh chemicals that can do more harm than good. Additionally, be aware of ingredients in all products used in your home. Even clothing, furniture, paint, and even synthetic soil for houseplants can be full of harmful chemicals.
Check out www.earth911.com for ideas about how to reduce toxins in your home and where to start looking for/creating your own non-toxic cleaners.