Eco-friendly is more than a buzzword; it’s a way to lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint. It’s also a way to bring current design trends into your home. Here are eight simple ways to make your property more eco-friendly this year.
Check your sprinkler system and make repairs if there are leaks. Low flow toilets and front-loading washing machines also conserve lots of water. If you live in an arid or semi-arid climate, choosing low-water landscaping, or xeriscaping can save you hundreds of gallons of water, especially in the summer. An added bonus? It’s easy to maintain yards that are more in tune with the native climate, rather than caring for plants that don’t belong in your climate zone.
Prevent energy loss
Your windows are the culprit behind up to 25% of your energy loss. The cheapest way to reduce energy loss is to re-caulk around the window panes. The most efficient way to stop energy from escaping is to get new double- or triple-paned windows. New windows are a significant investment, but you’ll notice your energy bills go down right away. And if you decide to sell, new windows can increase your property value.
Let Mother Nature do the work of insulating your home from the elements. Trees keep your home cooler in the summer, and cut the wind year-round, reducing the amount of energy you use. One large shade tree can also add curb appeal and increase the value of your home.
Paint it white
The color white is cooler in sunny weather. While black absorbs heat, white reflects it. That’s called albedo. If you increase your property’s albedo, your energy consumption goes down. A recent study found that if you paint your roof white, it can offset carbon dioxide emissions significantly over its lifetime. And if you’re not sure about a white house, try painting a few walls a light color and see how much energy you save.
It’s basic science: heat rises. And people like to sleep in cooler bedrooms. The quickest way to make your home eco-friendly at night is to turn down the air conditioning. If your bedroom is not already on the first floor, consider moving it there. A couple of degrees will make a big difference in your quality of sleep -- and your electric bill.
Replace light bulbs
Many people hated energy-efficient light bulbs when they first hit the market, because of the harsh, white light they put out. But if you haven’t yet made the leap to energy-efficient bulbs, look again. Light bulb manufacturers are producing energy-efficient light bulbs in other colors, including a warm yellow that mimics the light of an incandescent bulb. Here’s the difference: an incandescent bulb costs more than $100 to run continuously for one year, needing a replacement about once a month. An energy efficient CFL bulb will cost about $30 for a whole year, and an LED will cost you about $20 to stay on for 365 days.
Look for the Energy Star
When buying a new washer, dryer, refrigerator or any appliance, make sure it has the energy star. The energy star isn’t just a marketing gimmick; it’s an EPA program that began in 1991 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money. Companies have to follow specific rules to get the EPA’s stamp of approval. Better yet, you can find out how much energy your home uses compared with others on the Energy Star website.
Notice we didn’t include solar panels on our list. That’s because many people find the cost prohibitive. (Even though the federal government is offering a 30 percent tax credit for the cost of installing the panels this year.) Most of us want homes that are energy efficient and don’t cost much to heat or cool. Consider these eight simple ways to make your property more eco-friendly this year.