by John Ward
Most of us don’t think much about our plumbing or electrical systems when we think about “going green.” But, in fact, these two areas in a home can have lasting green effects in the pocket as well as the environment.
When you cut energy costs, you’re saving money as well as natural resources. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the home sector uses approximately 66 percent of the electric energy in this country. That electrical consumption doubled between 1989 and 2005. As our population grows these numbers will continue to grow as well, that’s why it’s important to take steps to minimize your footprint.
You might be surprised at how many ways you can cut costs and energy consumption around your home. Here’s a list of effective measures to make a greener environment and make your wallet a little greener as well.
Shade management 1: Keep the shades open on the sunny side of the house to help heat it in winter. Shut the shades to help cool it in summer.
Shade management 2: Landscape so that in the summer, trees, vines and shrubs shade driveway pavement, courtyards, large windows, etc.
Cross-ventilate: Opening windows on just one side of the house isn’t effective – the air has no path to flow through. Open windows on opposite sides to create a breeze.
Use a reversible ceiling fan: It’s effective both in winter and summer, generating a direct breeze in the summer and redistributing rising hot air in the winter.
Use CFL & LED lights: Replace your standard incandescent bulbs with long-life, energy efficient “compact fluorescent lights” or the new LED technology, which is now available for home lighting. They come in a variety of shapes and applications.
Use dimmers and mood lighting: If you’ve got dimmers, use them! If not, have them installed. They create comfortable lighting and save energy.
Use task and tract lighting: It’s more efficient and reduces the glare of an overly lit room.
Clean or paint walls: Dingy walls don’t reflect light well and give the room a “dark” feeling.
Use outdoor sensor lights: Instead of leaving porch and yard lights on all night. They provide even more security, reacting to motion.
Differentiate the toilet from the waste basket: Don’t use the toilet for cigarettes, paper or an occasional nose tissue. You can save 200-300 gallons a month.
Install aerators: They’re easy to put on kitchen and bathroom faucets, reduce water consumption and still provide a refreshing flow.
Wash full Loads: Don’t use the dish and clothes washers until they’re full.
Fix leaks: One simple leak can waste 20 gallons a day. Rid yourself of those annoying drips and pocket the savings.
Keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator: Instead of running the tap water until it’s cold.
Don’t sprinkle, irrigate: An irrigation hose uses less water and makes it easier for your lawn to “swallow.” If the grass springs back when you lift your foot, it doesn’t need water. Also, watering in the morning instead of dusk helps prevent fungus growth.
Use mulch: A layer around trees and plants slows down evaporation, reducing water needs.
Use a broom, not a hose: And get a little exercise sweeping the drive and sidewalks.
Capture tap water: While waiting for the water to heat up, capture the cool water and use it on your plants.
If replacing or adding appliances, consider:
- Energy Star ratings and recommendations
- Low flush toilets
- Programmable thermostats
- Heat pumps that distribute heat more efficiently
- Evaporative coolers
- Circulating hot water pumps for larger homes where faucets are far apart
Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric can provide you with a “green” audit of your home. We recommend to annually check plumbing and electrical for efficiency to ensure you’re maximizing resources and saving money.