Upgrade Appliances For Energy Efficient Ones

A great way to lower your home energy bill and your personal carbon foot print is by updating your old appliances with new ones that are energy efficient. This is a great way to go green, assuming that your old appliances actually need replaced. Do not just replace everything because you want to be energy efficient because that will be wasteful, which is counter productive to the whole going green and reducing your carbon footprint movement.

You would be surprised to learn how little it costs to run these energy efficient appliances compared to your old ones that were not energy efficient. In fact, I recently got a new chest freezer for home and the little yellow energy efficient tag showed me that it will cost less than $100 in electricity for the year. Yep, that’s right, the entire year.

Check out the image below to get details on the optimal ways to make your entire home energy efficient – not just the appliances!

Anatomy of an Energy Efficient Home

Anatomy of an Energy Efficient Home created by Homes.com

Tips on Conserving Water at Home

With the state of California, as well as a few others, experiencing extreme drought conditions this year, it is a good time for everyone to take a look at how they are using – and possibly wasting- water at home. After the popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS this summer, it seems like we are wasting more water than ever, which is true even for the people who are living in the areas that are experiencing the drought. So, with that in mind, let’s think about some of the ways that we can change how we are using water at home so that we end up using less of this precious resource in our normal day to day activities.

Bathroom Water Saving Tips

Your bathroom is probably one of the areas of your home where the most water is wasted. Often, this is the result of leaks that you might not normally notice or care about. For instance, does your bathroom sink drip a little or does your toilet run for longer than it should when you flush? Or maybe your toilet runs water by itself during the day? Looking for and fixing these leaks can save not only a lot of water but also some money on your water bill.

Now look to your shower. Yes, we all like those long, hot showers but they are very wasteful. So, get yourself a low-flow shower head and either a timer for it or strictly limit shower times so that they are short except for every so often when you just need a long shower.

If your toilets are old, then upgrade them to a model that has better efficiency so that it takes less water to flush each time. This is a super easy way to conserve water at home.

Kitchen Water Saving Tips

After bathrooms, the kitchen is probably the next place where the most water is wasted.

If you have a dishwasher, then use it for your dishes instead of hand washing them. Why? Because the dishwasher is more efficient and therefore requires less water than hand washing. And if your dishwasher is an older model, upgrade it to one that offers high efficiency.

When you want to run the dishwasher, only do so when the appliance is full. Otherwise, you are just wasting water!

On your kitchen sink, put a low-flow faucet aerator to cut your water usage in half! This is a very cheap and easy way so conserve water in your kitchen.

Other Home Water Saving Tips

Like with the dishwasher, only do your laundry when you have enough for a full load in the washing machine. And, if your washer is an older model, then consider upgrade it to a more efficient one that uses less water when in use.

If you have not already done so, insulate your hot water pipes to keep them warm. This reduces the time that you spend with the tap on waiting for the water to warm up ( and wasting water since it is not warm initially).  This is also a cheap fix that saves on water.

And if you are building a new home, you can place the hot water heater closer to showers, the washing machine and dishwasher to shorten the distance that the hot water has to travel, which keeps it warmer for you.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Believe it, or not most tests show indoor air quality to be at a lower level than that of outdoor air quality. Basically that means poor air quality inside is more of a risk to our health than it is outside. There are straightforward reasons for this apparently illogical situation. That is the surprising news, yet on the plus side most of us are in a position to remove pollutants from interiors of buildings.

So why is air pollution worse inside than outside?

The declining quality of air indoors to a large extent is due to the ways modern homes are insulated to conserve both energy and heat. Essentially air is trapped in the majority of buildings by insulated wall cavities, insulated attics, and double glazed windows. In the sense of keeping fuel costs down that makes perfectly good sense, in terms of safe air quality not so much.

Why is poor indoor air quality bad for our health?

Poor indoor air quality means that there is a higher risk of pollutants getting into our lungs. If there is little, or no ventilation in a building then pollutants have nowhere to go other than our lungs. Poor air quality is most likely to harm people with existing breathing problems, pregnant women, the old, and in particular the young. Children take in an extra 50% air than adults so are more likely to be adversely affected by poor air quality. Outside pollutants are not so concentrated due to unrestricted air flow. Exercising indoors makes indoor air quality a hundred times worse than it would be outside.

Can we tell if the air inside our homes is a health risk?

The simple answer to this question is no. Aside from smoke most pollutants in your homes cannot be seen, or smelt. The symptoms cannot always be traced back to poor air quality in general, or any specific pollutant in particular. Minor symptoms might not always be linked to poor air quality, for instance there could be other causes of breathlessness, dizziness, and headaches.

If you have any doubts about air quality just open some windows to disperse the concentration of any pollutants. Also smokers should smoke outside, to avoid the risks linked to passive smoking. If you pets then vacuum your home frequently.

Are children most at risk?

In a word, yes. As already mentioned children take in larger gulps of air, increasing the damage that pollutants could do to them. Asthma, is probably the most common illness children get that results from poor air quality. Roughly 4.2 million children in the United States suffer from asthma, research suggests that up to 65% of cases developed due to exposure to pollutants as well as tabacco smoke. Asthma cases decline drastically in homes with clean air, no smoke, and that are kept clean.

Making your Life Greener: Energy Saving Tips for Renters

Do you rent your home or apartment? Don’t think you can save energy like a homeowner? Think again! Here are energy-saving tips that will help you become energy efficient, save some money, and reduce your energy footprint.

Lighting

Changing the way you light your home is an easy way to start saving energy. By changing all your ordinary light bulbs to energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) you will use three-fourths less energy, which saves you money on your electricity bill. They also last almost ten times longer than regular incandescent bulbs, so you also save on the cost of replacing bulbs over time. In addition, by replacing your five most used light fixtures with ENERGY STAR qualified lights, you will save more than $65 a year. Furthermore, if you turn off just one incandescent (60-watt) bulb that you normally burn for eight hours a day, you will save up to $15 per year!

Heating and Air Conditioning

If you purchase a room air conditioner, make sure you buy an ENERGY STAR qualified model. They use 10 percent less energy than regular models. During winter protect room air conditioner from the cold with a tight-fitting cover. You can also opt to remove the window unit during the winter months to prevent energy losses.

Clear all furniture from vents and registers so that air can circulate freely, heating your home more efficiently.

Does your home have radiators? If you place heat-resistant reflectors between walls and radiators, this will help warm the room more effectively by directing the heat into the room and away from the wall.

Use natural sunshine to help warm a room by opening drapes during the day in the winter. Close drapes and/or shades to keep out the heat during summer months.

Electronics

About 15 percent of all household electricity use is consumed by electronics. Many electronics use energy even when they are turned off. Using ENERGY STAR qualified electronics helps save some of this energy. You can save more energy by unplugging power adapters and/or battery chargers when not in use. Also, use a surge protector strip as a central “off” switch when you finish using electronic equipment.

Electronic equipment often uses a small amount of electricity even when not in use. This amount can range from a few watts to as much as 20-40 watts for each piece of equipment. Using a surge protector strip as an on and off switch for your computer and peripheral equipment will allow you to completely disconnect from the power source, eliminating this energy usage.

Water Usage

Cutting down your shower time to ten minutes uses less water than taking a bath. When using a new low-flow shower head, a 10-minute shower will use about 25 gallons of water, saving five gallons over an average bath. A new shower head also saves energy — up to $145 each year. Reduce the humidity in your bathroom by running the fan during and 10-15 minutes after showers, but remember to turn it off!

Use cold water to wash your clothes whenever you can. Using cold water can save you more than $40 each year. In addition, run only full wash loads or, if you have to wash a smaller load, use appropriate water levels.

Pre-washing dirty dishes before stacking your dishwasher consumes quite a bit of energy and water. Instead of pre-washing, just scrape leftover food from your dishes before placing them into your dishwasher. Most of today’s dishwashers can efficiently clean dishes with residual food on them. The detergent and wash cycle will remove any remaining food residue. Also, run the dishwasher only when it is full. This will make the most efficient use of your dishwasher’s water and energy consumption. In addition, washing full loads can save you more than 3,400 gallons of water per year. To help save even more energy, turn off the heated dry option, if available on your dishwasher.

Drying Your Clothes

Don’t over-dry your clothing. Most new dryers have sensors that will automatically turn off a dryer when the clothes are dry. Make sure you use it to avoid over-drying. If you don’t have this option on your dryer, try to match the cycle length to the weight and size of the load. Operating your dryer at least fifteen minutes less per load can save you over $30 per year in energy costs.

Cleaning your dryer’s lint trap before every load is a very simple and easy thing to do to save energy and money. This is the reason: dryers work by blowing hot air through wet clothes, thereby evaporating the water, and then venting the water vapor to the outside. A full lint trap will prevent your dryer from providing enough heat, or won’t allow air to move sufficiently through the clothes, taking them longer to dry, using more energy, and costing you money! Cleaning the lint trap will allow your clothes to dry more quickly and efficiently.

Using just a few of these energy-saving tips will help you save a significant amount of money and will help make the planet little bit greener. Share these tips with friends who rent and talk to your landlord about making some energy saving improvements. Any little change is making a change for the better.