As a contractor, I’ve made going green and building a sustainable future a big part of my focus. It’s our job to teach homeowners what’s best for their homes, including building solutions that are environmentally friendly – especially in honor of Earth Day, which is on April 22, 2018. While I would love to see every home become a net-zero home (one that produces as much energy as it consumes), I know that right now, it’s just not realistic. But there are several things that everyday homeowners can do to leave a positive impact on our environment and keep this planet going strong for the next generation.
1. Light the Way: Switch to LEDs
Have you made the switch to LED lights yet? They’re the way to go. Not only do they save on energy, they also last a lot longer. On average, LEDs last for about 25,000 hours - that’s 22 years you won’t have to change a bulb!
LEDs have come a long way in the last couple of years, too. You can get all kinds of different tones from LED lightbulbs, so I don’t want to hear you say that LED lighting is too harsh! And you can put an LED almost anywhere, from your chandeliers, to underneath your cabinetry and in your dimmer switches. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Making this easy change will give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to saving energy and supporting our environment.
2. Power a Sustainable Future: Choose Energy Efficient Appliances
Choosing energy efficient appliances doesn’t mean you have to compromise on performance. Look for Energy Star-rated appliances which use half the water and half the energy of older models.
You may even want to consider upgrading to some state-of-the-art smart appliances, which connect to your smartphone or tablet. This feature allows you to save your preferences for how the appliance runs so that it always does what you want – even when you’re not home.
3. Stem the Flow of Energy: Save Water with Efficient Fixtures
Water is our most valuable resource - and most of the water we use at home has been treated for human consumption. The amount of accessible water on Earth that’s fit for use is extremely low, so it makes sense to preserve it as much as we can.
Low-flow aerators on kitchen and bathroom faucets are an inexpensive and simple way to reduce your water usage; they can reduce your consumption by as much as 50 percent. And don’t forget to tackle fixing leaky faucets as soon as possible. A tap that drips all night long adds up to a lot of wasted water over a year! Even one tap that has one drip a minute will waste 34 gallons of water a year.
Generally, the older your toilet, the more water it uses with each flush. Toilets tend to last a long time - even decades! So you may be flushing away a lot more water than you realize. Recent high-efficiency models use less than one gallon per flush. So if you’re still using an older model, it may be time to make the switch.
4. Degrees of Control: Install Smart Thermostats
Does your heat or air conditioner run all day even if you’re not home? Or maybe it stays on its normal cooling or heating schedule while you’re on vacation? Installing a programmable thermostat can let you set the time when your heat or air conditioner kick in and when it turns off. And even better, with smart technology you can control the temperature remotely and see your energy consumption in real-time. For me, seeing how much energy I’m using and when - especially during those peak hours - helped me make a big shift in thinking about how I’m powering my home, even when I’m not there.