Going Green for the New Year
After the first of the year, homeowners typically look for ways to improve their dwelling whether it’s to increase value or get a jump on some new resolutions.
With the economy such as it is, it just might be a good idea to go Green when considering home projects around the house. Green home improvement projects can not only promote cost savings over time but can also be less costly at the outset.
Here are a few home improvement projects that not only qualify as green in terms of energy savings but also will save you a bit of green along the way:
Seal that Envelope: The door and window frames around your home offer a great escape for heat in the winter and cool air in the summer months. That’s why tightening the envelope by blocking all those leaks around your house is a great green home improvement starter project for anyone.
Try re-caulking windows and adding rope insulation to door and window frames that show signs of leakage. Check the insulation in your attic and replace where needed. And insulate those exposed pipes, giving your water heater a break on cold winter days when hot water in exposed pipes can lose as much as 40% of its temperature before it even gets to the faucet.
Upgrade to a Programmable Thermostat: A simple programmable thermostat is a green upgrade that requires only a nominal investment (as low as $50) but pays off in big dividends.
The EPA reports that maintaining consistent home temperatures and turning down the heat every evening can save $150/year in heating costs. Programmable thermostats manage temperature regulation easily, can be purchased at big box home improvement stores and are relatively easy to install (turn off the power to before installing). But if you have any doubt about installation, don’t hesitate to call an electrician or a handyman.
Purchase Energy Efficient Appliances: Energy efficiency isn’t just the phrase of the day, it’s a concept that’s here to stay. Aside from being socially responsible, it saves you money, which is always a good thing.
The easiest way to go green is to make an energy efficiency upgrade. It reduces your carbon footprint and pays for itself in the long run. How can you tell if an appliance is energy efficient? I’m glad you asked. The EPA developed the Energy Star rating to designate appliances and products that save at least 30% on energy consumption of standard models. These models save not only on consumption of energy but also on pollution of the planet. Most manufacturers participate in and offer Energy Star products. You’ll know them by the blue and white Energy Star logo.
Visit energystar.gov to see a list of current models on the market or to learn more.
Add a Dash of Air-Friendly Color: Decorating pros will tell you that the most cost effective and impactful (even dramatic) change you can make to a room is paint color. Paint colors, interesting textures and patterns change the mood of a room instantly. And if you use no VOC paints, you can add a dash of clean air to the mix as well.
Traditional paints contain what’s called volatile organic compounds, toxic components in paint resin that help to maintain pigment. VOCs are toxic because they tend to the gaseous state. And as such, they are released through the process of evaporation into the air we breathe.
No VOC paint and primer are great foundations to a green remodel. Low-VOC paints are also an option, but the guidelines are a little vague on the definition of low-VOC. Some brands offer varying degrees of VOCs in these products. Be sure you know what you’re getting when you make your purchase.
So, you see, there are a number of simple ways you can start your year off green and it doesn’t take a lottery win to do it either. With a little effort and some elbow grease you can have an energy efficient home that saves a few of those hard earned dollars in the process.
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