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Tips to Green Your Home

Below you will find several tips to make your home more sustainable.  Many of these tips will also save you money!  The list includes information about general household items, heating and cooling, insulation and caulking, kitchen, laundry room, lighting, water heating, windows, fireplace, and shopping.

General Household

  • Turn off the TV, VCR, stereo or radio when not in use.
  • Turn off the dehumidifier on dry days when it's not needed.
  • Turn off the humidifier on humid days when it's not needed.
  • Install low-flush toilets to save water.
  • Turning off the water when brushing teeth or shaving.
  • Unplug as much as possible prior to leaving on vacation. Plugged in items use “ghost energy” even while they are not in use.
  • Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket or ashtray - it wastes water every time you flush it.
  • It takes a lot of energy to make new containers, paper products and packaging. Be diligent in recycling all your newspapers, cans, bottles, plastics, cardboard and other materials.
  • Turn off your home office equipment when not in use and activate the "sleep" feature of your home office equipment (PC, fax, printer, scanner, monitor) so they automatically power down when not in use
  • Are  individual plastic bags needed for produce at the grocery store?  Mesh bags work well and are washable.
  • Avoid double-cupping when getting your favorite coffee drink. Also, take your coffee without a lid unless you really need one.
  • Bring your own cup to your favorite coffee shop. You'll save energy, most coffee shops give a discount, plus coffee always tastes better in real cup.
  • Household batteries contain hazardous materials. Properly dispose of your batteries at Village Hall or SWALCO Household Chemical Waste and Household Electronic Collections. Better yet, purchase a good selection of high-quality rechargeable batteries and a charging unit. You'll save money in the long run and keep hazardous materials out of our environment.

Heating and Cooling

  • Space heating and cooling accounts for about 45 percent of your utility bill and offers the greatest opportunity to save on energy costs.
  • Adjust the thermostat in small degree changes - your home won't heat or cool faster by cranking it up.
  • Installing a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperature according to your schedule will pay for itself in less than a year.
  • Change the furnace filter every other month.
  • Keep furniture and drapes away from the HVAC air supply and return air ducts to increase the energy efficiency of your system.
  • Be sure the air conditioner is fully charged with freon so it operates efficiently.
  • When installing a new furnace, check the energy rating and choose a high-efficiency unit for maximum energy savings. It will pay for itself in about 7 years.
  • When buying an air conditioner, don't over-size it. Select the proper size and choose an energy-efficient model.
  • If you install your air conditioning compressor in a shady spot, it will work more efficiently.
  • Allow plenty of room for air flow around the air conditioning compressor for most efficient operation.
  • Bleed air from hot water radiators a couple of times each season to make them work more efficiently.
  • Place heat resistant radiator reflectors between the exterior walls and the radiators.
  • Major appliances add extra heat to your home and make your air conditioner work harder. Operate them in the morning or evening when it's cooler outside.
  • During the winter, remove window air conditioners and seal the windows with caulk and weather stripping.
  • You might also want to cover the central air conditioner with a tarp to keep it clean.
  • Ceiling fans are more energy efficient at circulating the air than turning on the main furnace fan.
  • Install a whole-house fan in the attic to draw hot air out of the house. Remember to cover and insulate it during the winter to prevent heat loss.
  • Closing the doors and shutting the vents in the rooms you don't use is a smart energy saving idea.
  • Add an extra blanket for warmth and turn down the furnace while sleeping.
  • Use ventilating fans in your kitchen, bath and utility area prudently. In just one hour of use, they can pull out a houseful of warm air.
  • A small electric space heater is an efficient way to supplement room heating.

Insulation and Caulking

  • More than half of the energy used for heating is lost through uninsulated walls, floors, ceilings and attics. Adding additional insulation to the ceilings, walls and floors of your home traps heat inside during the winter and keeps heat outside during the summer.
  • Inspect your home's HVAC duct system to be sure they're properly connected, sealed tightly and well insulated.
  • Caulking and weather stripping your doors and windows is an efficient energy saving tip.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducts or electrical wires penetrate the exterior walls, floors and ceilings.
  • Install the ready-made foam insulating pads inside your receptacle and switch plate covers to keep out the winter cold and summer heat.
  • Seal cracks in your basement walls and floor to keep heat in and cold air out.

Kitchen

  • Look for the Energy Star label for when buying home appliances.
  • Use energy saving products such as small electric pans or toaster ovens to cook small meals instead of heating your large stove or oven.
  • Save considerable energy by using your microwave oven and pressure cooker whenever possible. They cook quickly using less energy.
  • Foods will cook faster and use less energy if you put lids on the pots and pans and make sure they're the right size for the burner.
  • Preheat the oven only when the recipe calls for it. There's no need to preheat the broiler.
  • Save energy by baking an extra dish or cooking entire meals in the oven at the same time.
  • When you open the oven door to peek at food inside you lose 25-75 degrees of heat. Look through the oven window or wait until the food is almost done before opening the door.
  • If you have a self-cleaning oven, clean it immediately after use. Because it's already hot, it will take less energy to get to the heat cleaning stage.
  • Let hot foods cool on the counter before putting them in your refrigerator or freezer. Hot foods cause the refrigerator to work longer and harder.
  • Do you really need that extra refrigerator or freezer in the garage or basement? If not, sell it or just unplug it for big energy savings of up about $8 per month.
  • If cold air is escaping around the refrigerator door seal, adjust or replace the seal. To check, close the door on a dollar bill. If it's easy to pull out, cold air is escaping.
  • Remove old items from the refrigerator regularly, so you don't waste electricity keeping them cold all the time.
  • Set the temperature in your refrigerator between 35 and 38 degrees F.
  • Keep the temperature on the freezer between 0 and 5 degrees F.
  • Turn off the "heat dry" feature of your dishwasher. Then, when the load is finished open the door and let the dishes air-dry on their own.
  • Run the dishwasher only with a full load.
  • A dishwasher will operate more efficiently if you unclog the drain of food particles and clean it weekly.

Laundry Room

  • Over drying wears out your clothes and wastes energy. Stop your dryer when the laundry is dry by setting the timer or using the auto dry cycle.
  • Buy a dryer with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off when the clothes are dry.
  • Empty your clothes dryer lint screen between every load to improve energy efficiency.
  • Wash your clothes in cold or warm water and rinse them in cold water. Use a cold water detergent.
  • Set the water level on your washer to match the size of the load to save energy and water.
  • Wash and dry clothes only when you have a full load.
  • Fill your clothes dryer, but don't overload it. Your clothes will dry faster when they have room to tumble.
  • Dry clothes in consecutive loads to take advantage of the warm dryer.
  • Gas clothes dryers usually cost about one-third as much to operate as electric dryers and are more energy efficient.
  • Run your major appliances such as washer, dryer, dishwasher and pool/spa motors during non-peak electrical hours, generally after 8 p.m.  to help reduce demand on the electrical grid during peak hours.

Lighting

  • Lighting accounts for about 15 percent of a typical residential utility bill. So, turn off the lights when not in use.
  • Electric lighting also adds extra heat to a space that must be cooled by air conditioning in the summer.
  • Recessed can lights typically use 75- or 100-watt incandescent floodlight bulbs. Replace them with 50-watt halogen floodlight bulbs to enjoy a 30 to 50 percent energy savings - and improve the quality of the light.
  • To improve energy efficiency even more, replace the incandescent light bulbs in your home with energy saving compact fluorescent lamps.
  • Under-the-counter fluorescent lights in the kitchen give great energy savings. Most of the time, you can get by using them alone.
  • Install dimmer switches to save energy and extend the life of light bulbs
  • Removing one light bulb from your garage door opener is a creative energy saving tip.
  • For more energy efficiency, remove both light bulbs from your garage door opener and replace the garage wall light switch with a motion sensor control. The light will come on when someone enters the garage and go off more quickly, automatically.
  • Install low-voltage lighting or solar powered lighting for outside illumination.
  • For outdoor security lights, install lights with motion detectors so they only come on when needed.

Water Heating

  • Water heating accounts for as much as 20 percent of your utility bill. Insulate the hot water tank to reduce heat loss and save energy.
  • Install the pre-formed foam pipe insulation on your hot water pipes.
  • Set your water heater to the "vacation" mode when you're away from home for more than two days.
  • Gradually turn down the temperature on the hot water heater until you just barely run out of hot water. Then, turn it back up just a notch for comfort.
  • More than 1.5 million homes and businesses in the United States have invested in solar water heating systems. Most consider the systems to be a great energy saving idea and a good investment.
  • Fix leaky faucets. One drop per second can add up to 165 gallons a month - that's more than one person uses in two weeks.
  • Take a shower instead of a bath and you'll use less hot water.
  • Take shorter showers. For those who just have to take a long shower to get going in the morning, install a low-flow shower head to save valuable hot water.
  • If you live in a cold climate, install a second water holding tank for water to reach room temperature before entering the hot water heater.
  • An old hot water heater builds up deposits inside and becomes less efficient. Install a new energy efficient, well-insulated hot water heater.
  • An effective energy saving tip is to compare the Energy Guide labels before buying a new hot water heater.
  • Don't replace the hot water heater with a bigger one than you really need. Select the proper size to save energy.
  • When your old hot water heater breaks, replace it with a tankless model
  • Drain a quart of water from your hot water tank every few months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers it's efficiency.

Windows

  • 10 to 25 percent of your central heat is lost through the windows.
  • Replace single-pane windows with double-pane windows with low-emissivity (low-e) glass and vinyl frames to reduce heat transfer and filter out ultraviolet light.
  • In colder climates, select windows that are gas filled and have low-emissivity (low-e) coatings on the glass to reduce heat loss.
  • Select windows with spectrally selective coatings to reduce heat gain and save energy.
  • Installing storm windows can reduce heat loss through windows by 25 to 50 percent.
  • Reflective window film can help reduce heat gain during the summer and it will protect your furniture and carpet.
  • When buying a home, select one with the main living area facing south to make the most of passive solar heating in the winter.
  • When designing a new home or remodeling an existing one, place large insulated windows on the south walls with a heat-absorbing slab, to keep your home warm in the winter.
  • Keep plants and trees trimmed away from south-facing windows to get the maximum solar heating effect.
  • During daylight hours in the winter, open all the drapes and blinds on south-facing windows to gain maximum heat through the windows.
  • Close all the window blinds and drapes at night to reduce heat loss through the windows.
  • During the hot part of the day in the summer, close the drapes and blinds on the windows where the sun "beats in" to minimize the heat gain.

Fireplace

  • Using a fireplace sends valuable heat up the chimney. Reduce the loss by installing glass doors.
  • Have the chimney cleaned and inspected regularly and burn only fully dried hardwoods to produce the most heat output.
  • Provide an outside air source to fuel the fire in your fireplace to prevent sucking out conditioned room air.
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed in the winter when not in use.
  • In the summer, open the damper to create a natural cooling draught.
  • If you don't use your fireplace, plug the chimney with fiberglass insulation and seal the doors with silicone caulk.
  • Use grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.

Shopping

  • When shopping, refuse a bag if you don't need it. Cashiers are often on autopilot, bagging even single items.
  • Reuse your grocery bags or better yet, go to  www.reusablebags.com and buy a sturdy canvas bag for every family member. They will last for years.
  • Shop on-line. You'll save time and the small shipping fees are much less costly than driving around in a vehicle.

 

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