Energy-efficient homes

You can do three relatively inexpensive things to bring down energy costs and make your home more comfortable. These involve your appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling.

by Linda Costello — 

Do you live in an energy-efficient home? Whether you do or not, below are some simple techniques to help you conserve more energy. This, in turn, will help you save money, make an impact on your health and well-being, as well as contribute to future sustainability.

A number of ways exist to make your home more environmentally efficient. Many of them require a substantial initial investment, but over time you will recoup your money in savings. Also be sure to investigate the many tax incentives available.

You can do three relatively inexpensive things to bring down energy costs and make your home more comfortable. These involve your appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling.

Energy Star appliances — According to the EPA, appliance use comprises 18 percent of your total home energy bill. Energy Star appliances are guaranteed to use 10 to 50 percent less electricity than their counterparts.

According to an article on the real estate section of MSN.com, if one in 10 households replaced its appliances with Energy Star appliances, it would be the equivalent of planting 1.7 million new acres of trees. It is also helpful to run your appliances during off-peak hours as much as possible, especially if they emit heat. For example, do laundry after 7 p.m., and run the dishwasher at night and only when full.

Lighting — The most energy-efficient way to increase light without incurring an energy cost is to use natural lighting — open a shade or door, or install a skylight. We all need light when the sun goes down, and that usually means light bulbs, of course.

Many people use compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs in their homes. These days, you can buy one for a little more than a dollar. They use 66 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 32-watt CFL will save you $30 over the life of just one bulb.

CFLs have disposal issues due to the fluorocarbons, so the light of the future will probably be the LED bulb. There are still some developmental issues with LEDs for regular home use, and the cost of $15 per bulb does not yet justify the savings. For now, replace your bulbs with CFLs for savings on light.

Heating and cooling — Fifty percent of home energy costs come from heating and cooling, but there are simple ways to cut electrical bills. Ceiling fans that redistribute and circulate air cost about $10 per year to run, and will make a big difference, especially in cooling costs. Programmable thermostats are also excellent money-savers. You can set them at different temperatures for the times you will be home and active, when you will be out and when you will be sleeping.

Shade — Another way to curb electrical costs is to shade the south side of your house with thermal shades or curtains that can be opened or closed to allow in heat and light — or to keep it out — depending on the season.

When I lived in a sustainable living community, we used this, coupled with a greenhouse on the south side of the house, as our primary winter heating method. You can use indoor shading, shade screens on the outer windows and foliage for shade in the summer. In the winter, simply cut back the foliage and open the shades.

There are many more ways to live a greener lifestyle, but these three simple practices will go a long way in making a difference in your energy consumption. You will benefit your wallet, your health and the future of our world community by being more eco-aware. It is easy being green.

 

Linda Costello is a realtor with West USA. 602-722-2562 or Linda@wholisticprosperity or http://wholisticprosperity.com. She is also a member of N’Shama (www.nshama.com).

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 6, Dec 2010/Jan 2011.

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