Many people are aware of the importance of green living but aren’t exactly sure what they can do to reduce the negative impacts they have on the environment. Fortunately, there are plenty of small steps that regular individuals can take to alter their lifestyles in accordance with eco-friendly principles. Embarking on do-it-yourself projects at your home can make it more energy-efficient and therefore contribute to the well-being of the planet.
Check and Add Insulation
Inadequate insulation leads to air leaks and causes your HVAC equipment to work overtime trying to keep your residence at your preferred temperature. Examine the areas around your doors and windows, and if necessary, apply caulk to seal them properly. Silicone caulk is recommended for use with metal, glass and other water-impermeable surfaces while masonry caulk is ideal for plugging up gaps in walls, bricks and concrete. You can obtain caulk from your local home improvement store for a few dollars a tube.
If your water heater is warm to the touch, then you might be able to cover it with an insulating blanket and thereby prevent heat loss. Contact your utility company because it may offer to do the job for you or at least provide you with the necessary supplies for a low cost or even for free. You can also insulate your hot water pipes at a trivial expense with pipe sleeves or fiberglass.
Install a Smart Thermostat
Some people opt to conserve energy by setting their thermostats a couple of degrees away from what’s most comfortable, but you don’t have to do things manually any longer. With a programmable thermostat, like Google’s Nest or the Ecobee3, your heating and cooling systems will automatically regulate themselves to not waste energy. You’ll probably be able to recoup the cost of the unit within a single summer or winter.
You can set up schedules so that your machinery won’t run as frequently when nobody is at home or during the night. In the event that you demand AC or heating service when your thermostat is programmed for a low temperature, you can temporarily override its settings with the touch of a button.
You won’t ever have to waste electricity anymore because you forgot to adjust your thermostat before leaving the house. If you do nevertheless need to make changes while you’re away, you can access a connected “smart” thermostat from anywhere through your mobile device.
Change Your Lighting Setup
Old-fashioned, incandescent light bulbs have adorned homes of all kinds, spartan and luxurious, for more than a century, but their usefulness is now coming to an end. Newer types of lighting, such as compact fluorescent and LED bulbs, consume much less electricity and are therefore good for both your pocketbook and the environment.
While both of these types of newfangled lighting have their advantages and drawbacks, LEDs are probably the way to go for most consumers. Don’t be put off by the fact that they cost several times more than regular light bulbs: You’ll recoup your investment in the form of lower energy expenditures in as little as a year. Also, bulbs made of LEDs tend to last quite a bit longer than incandescent ones, so you’ll save on the expenses of replacement too.
Get Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures
Upgrading to low-flow showerheads and water faucets will cut down on the water you consume while taking a shower, brushing your teeth and engaging in other similar activities. Not only does this mean that your water bill will be correspondingly lower, but you’ll also be doing your part to alleviate water scarcity.
Most of these fixtures can be had for prices below $30, and they could save you hundreds of dollars per year. Look for the WaterSense label on fixtures, which indicates that the device in question complies with the relevant EPA guidelines for water efficiency.
There are also low-flow toilets, but they’re a bit more expensive than faucets and showerheads. Replacing your toilet with a low-flow unit might not be a cost-effective step to take unless you’re in the market for a new toilet anyway.
By starting on one or several of these four projects, you can save some money while caring for your natural surroundings. For even more ideas on how to improve energy efficiency, you can obtain a comprehensive energy audit of your home from a professional for a few hundred dollars or less.