Green Your Home: Improvement and Efficiency

One of the best things you can do, financially, for your health, and for the planet, is to green your home. When thinking about greening their home, many people think solar, but the truth is that there are far better options for reducing your emissions and your utility bills. Doing green-focused home improvement and efficiency work will help you live more comfortably, more frugally, more sustainably, and with greater indoor air quality as well. And in the long run, these very affordable up-front investments pay for themselves time and time again.

Green Living Ideas was labeled a Top 20 home improvement website last year, and we regularly publish articles to help you green your home, save money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption.

Most economical and effective green home improvements

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 3.53.19 PMWeatherstripping and Insulation: Sealing up leaky/drafty doors and windows is a great way to keep your cool air inside in the summertime, and your warm air inside in the wintertime. The tools required include weatherstripping tape, caulking tubes and gun, perhaps a screwdriver and some other common household tools. The trick, of course, is to find the actual leaks. For that, you might consider a laser thermometer or infrared gun. Check out our articles Weatherstripping 101 and How to seal air leaks in windows and doors for more information, especially if you’re constantly feeling that the temperature in your home is not quite where you want it.

Insulation is another big issue, and goes way beyond just doors and windows. Check out how to measure your attic insulation, how to assess the results of your attic insulation, and all the rest of our articles about insulating your home.

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Change your lighting: the fastest, easiest, most cost effective way to save money in your home and reduce your carbon emissions is to switch to LED lights. Today. LEDs have evolved to be really user-friendly, with beautiful light spectrums, and designs/shapes to meet every lighting need. LEDs use roughly 1/10th the energy consumed by comparable incandescents, and about half of that used by comparable CFLs. LEDs are price competitive, especially when you look at the true costs of ownership of LED, CFL, and incandescent bulbs. Factoring in energy use and the cost of replacements, LEDs are the clear winner financially, despite higher up front costs. In addition, LEDs contain no mercury (CFLs do), and do not generate heat (meaning your A/C doesn’t have to work hard to offset their heat…doubling your savings!). Check out our Guide to modern light bulb base types and sizes, Guide to light bulb color and temperature, and Guide to light bulb shapes and sizes.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 5.09.48 PMGreen your laundry routine: Your dryer ranks among the highest energy users in your home. Books have literally been written about how we’re destroying the planet to dry our socks. In addition, the water used in your clothes washer is becoming an increasingly precious resource as global climate change causes extreme droughts across the world. Check out our top 15 strategies for greening your laundry habits. Then make sure your dryer lint vent, trap, and screen are clean (so that the dryer runs more efficiently), and consider getting a foldable drying rack and hanging clothes to dry inside (this is your best money and greenhouse gas saver, to be honest…so give it a shot!)

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 5.23.21 PMGreen your bathroom: energy and water are used mainly in a few areas in your home. The kitchen, laundry and bathroom are the primary areas, and doing some simple green home improvement in your bathroom can yield significant savings of money, energy, water, and greenhouse gas emissions. The days of “low flow” devices are thank-god-fully over. That old technology restricted the flow of water through piping, and caused water pressure to just plain suck. These days, the technology for water savings is referred to as “high efficiency”, because it still delivers high water pressure and effective cleaning capabilities, while also using less water. Modern showerheads can save 10 gallons of heated water per 10 minute shower. That’s 10 gallons less water used, 10 gallons less water heated, and 10 gallons less water sent away as sewer water. 3 times the savings, and a ton of greenhouse gas emissions averted. See how to install a high efficiency showerhead. There are also devices that allow you to turn the water down to a trickle while you’re soaping up or shampooing, and turn it back to full flow when you need it, while maintaining the water temp exactly where you want it. See How to install a shower flow valve for more on that. Your sinks can also get a high efficiency overhaul. Check out high efficiency faucet aerators for more info. And last but not least, figure out if your toilets are leaking, and fix them! Toilet leaks can cost thousands of dollars, and lots of precious freshwater literally flushed down the drain.

Other great green home improvement ideas:

The latest Green Home Improvement

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