RENOVATE YOUR HOME, MAKE IT MORE SUSTAINABLE
If you are trying to improve the efficiency of your home - there are many approaches that you can take. Some are easy and inexpensive - while others are complex and have higher upfront costs. Please see below for what makes the most sense for you.
Quick & easy Eco-friendly home renovations
Locate- and seal - air leaks
Your home uses lots of energy to regulate the interior temperature of your home - which unfortunately increases the carbon footprint of your home. If there are air leaks that allow the external environment to creep into your home - you are wasting lots of energy. In most households, air leaks can appear near windows, fireplaces, electrical outlets, pipes, vents and attic hatche - and these should be the first places to inspect. If air leaks are found, caulk and weatherstripping are simple solutions to seal up those problem areas.
Upgrade your old, wasteful lightbulbs
Think about how many lightbulbs you have in your home - and then think about all the waste your home can generate if they are heavy energy users. That's why it's very common now for homeowners to swap out traditional incandescent lightbulbs with efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps (also called CFLs) and LED bulbs. Although these lightbulbs cost more upfront, they will quickly pay for themselves due to their longer lifespan and their reduced energy consumption. It's a win-win; you will use less energy and have to swap out blown bulbs less often.
Make your home smart
Smart home devices have simplified how we learn about the weather, play music during a Sunday morning and wake up for work. Additionally - many smart home devices also can make our homes more efficient by using their intelligence to minimize energy consumption. These technologies seem to be popping up every day - but a few categories have gained lots of traction as credible energy savers that are used by many sustainable homes.
- Programmable Thermostats & Smart Thermostats: Programmable thermostats can reduce your energy consumption by operating on a pre-determined schedule. On the other hand, smart tthermostats will only regulate the temperature when detect that people are in your home and need the temperature regulation
- Automatic Lights: Providing lighting inside and outside your home can be a big drain on your energy consumption. Many smart home devices enable you to set your lights to an automatic timer which only turns on the lightbulbs when required - when it's dark outside. Further - some smart bulbs can be controlled via phone app, that lets you directly control the lights remotely.
- Smart Outlets: Your electrical devices drain energy whenever plugged in - even if they are not in use. Smart outlets allow you to monitor how much electricity each devices drains when not in use - and can eliminate the wasted energy by 'shutting down'. These after market parts can be installed into existing electrical outlets - and can be turned on and off remotely and on-demand to limit 'ghost' energy use.
- Automatic Irrigation Systems: Outside of your home, smart devices enable you to only water your landscaping when required. The devices monitor temperature, sun exposure and precipitation to regulate how much irrigation is required to keep your landscaping healthy and happy. No more being the person who is watering their lawn while it's raining.
Reduce water consumption with low-flow adapters
Homeowners can improve the efficiency of their showers and faucets by using simple, easy to install after market parts. These devices aerate or restrict the water flow - reducing the water usage - while providing the same utility.
And last but not least... Use your brain
Using your brain is free - and takes no technical skills. By simply making smart decisions such as unplugging devices that are not in use, washing only full loads of laundry and locating your fridge away from your oven - you can make a direct impact on your home sustainability.
BIGGER, MORE AMBITIOUS PROJECTS THAT CAN MAKE YOUR HOME GREENER
And some projects require more than your brain and a trip to the hardware store. Large improvements to the sustainability of your home can be implemented by yourself or a professional - but they come with a cost and a time commitment. Although the upfront time and financial costs are high, many of these will pay for themselves in just a few years - due to lower energy requirements and lower maintenance costs.
Upgrade and improve your windows
There are a lot of windows in your home. And if you have old windows (especially single-glazed windows) - you are wasting energy as they allow the external weather to enter your home. With single-glazed windows, there is energy loss directly through the glass, not just the seals. A big way to reduce your energy consumption is to hire a contractor to install energy-star windows - which can help create a super strong seal to your home - keeping the heat or air conditioning in your home.
Install energy efficient appliances
Appliances can be super energy and water intensive - which - you guessed it - increases the resource consumption of our homes. In a sustainable home, Energy Star certified appliances are a must-have. In order to be granted the Energy Star certification, the appliances are reviewed by an independent group who ensures that the appliances are efficient - while still doing their job effectively.
Replace your water heater
Water heaters are very energy intensive, as it takes a lot of resources to warm the water, and then keep it warm. Over the past two decades, water heaters have become much more efficient, and therefore, the additional cost to have a new one installed can quickly pay for itself by the reduced heating costs. Many sustainable households using on-demand water heaters, which do not have to keep water warm, as its produced 'as it's needed.' The added benefit of these water heaters is that they don't run out of warm water, as they generate the water as quick as it dispenses it.
Don't use inefficient, wasteful toilets
Toilets require plenty of water to properly disposed of liquid and solid waste. Newer, more efficient toilets reduce the amount of water needed to flush away the waste into your septic system. Some of these toilets feature the 'half flush' features for liquid waste which can greatly reduce the water used by your toilet. (We kindly ask you please use a full flush for solid waste. Thank you!)
Improve the insulation of your home
Creating a strong seal to your home is very important to maintaining a comfortable environment. If you do not have a strong seal through insulation - you will be required to use energy to maintain that climate. It also helps to see if your ceiling is insulated. Many homes do not have insulated roofs, which is a major concern for houses in cooler climates (as you know, heat rises).
Generate your own energy with solar and wind
And last but not least - a great way to reduce your carbon emissions is to generate renewable clean energy. If your home, has a large south facing aspect - it's a great candidate for generating solar energy. If your home has a large open field with consistent wind, its a great candidate to generate wind energy.