Apr 042013

Seems the trend towards living a “greener” life is really gaining momentum. Some cities in California have enacted codes that all building upgrades must be done with an eye toward the future. Meaning greater energy-efficiency, more recycled materials, and less environmental impact. There are even tax incentives for homeowners who take the time to make their homes more green.

I, for one, couldn’t be more thrilled. Living a healthy lifestyle has always been important to my husband and me, it’s a value we try to encourage in our children as well. As such, we’ve been committed to creating a greener home for some time now. We want to live long and healthy lives, and we feel the home we live in should contribute to that. Simple things like installing central ventilation in our compactly built home helps keep the air we breathe clean.

“It’s Not Easy Being Green” – Kermit the Frog

It’s hard for me to say that a Muppet may be mistaken, but there seems to be some confusion around what it means to be “green”, let alone live in a “green house”. Most jump to the conclusions of solar panels, water catchments, outdoor showers, composting toilets and going “off-grid”.

While this is true for some, it’s not the prevailing case. For all our green leanings, my husband and I are far from the hippie extremist stereotype. Instead, we thought it was just smarter to make some simple changes that have resulted in a more energy-efficient home that is less wasteful of precious resources (like water) and more healthy for our entire family.

Simple Green

  • Seal Ducts, Doorways, and Windows – Possibly the fastest, least expensive way to make your home more energy efficient is to seal any cracks around ducts, windows and doorways. Any place where your heated or cooled air can escape equates to money down the drain, so seal up these gaps tight, indoors and out.
  • Low-Flow Plumbing – There’s already a worldwide shortage of drinking water, why flush it down the pipes, literally? Low-flow plumbing equates to less water wasted, and more dollars earned in the long-run. Contrary to what episodes of King of the Hill would have us believe, low-flow toilets are able to handle quite a load (pun intended?) without needing extra flushes.
  • Get on a Schedule – Our energy bills dropped dramatically when we put our thermostat and refrigerator on a timer. Automatic thermostats are becoming fairly popular and are easy to install, but few people think to put their refrigerator on a timer as well. This single appliance accounts for a significant amount of energy usage per day, a couple of hours of down-time each day has no negative effects on the food stored within yet it adds up to significant savings each month.
  • Upgrade to Energy-Star – All of our appliances are certified as energy-star, even our windows have the energy-star seal, so we can rest easy knowing that our home is energy-efficient, more green, and has a higher market value as a result of these simple changes.
  • Insulate the Attic – All the duct-sealing in the world won’t reduce your energy bill if all of your heat is escaping through the roof. A simple Do-It-Yourself installation of fiberglass insulation in the attic or having spray foam insulation installed by a professional keeps warm air (in the Winter) and cool air (in the SUmmer) contained within your house, so you won’t have to constantly fiddle with the thermostat.
  • Use Recycled/Reclaimed Materials – Perhaps my favorite way that my family has gone green is in our very own backyard. We built several raised garden beds and planted them full of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. We’ve reduced our carbon footprint in two ways. First, we don’t need to go to the grocery quite so often now that we grow much of food, and second, we purchased the building materials from a local dealer who sells lumber reclaimed from demolished buildings.

That’s Something You Can Take to the Bank

By investing in greener options for our home, we not only enjoy increased savings as the year goes on, we’re able to rest easy knowing that we are providing a healthy home for our children. From LED light bulbs to aluminum gutters, we’re constantly looking for ways we can invest in the continued upkeep of our home, not just for financial gain, but mostly for the peace of mind it brings.

Written by Sophie Evans. Original post in Energywise Blog

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