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Green Living Is Easier Than You Think

By: Julie Bawden-Davis

Green Living at Home
Doing your part by living green at home is easier than you might think and the results are far-reaching. The more energy efficient your home is, the more money you'll save and the bigger your positive impact on the environment.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), minor changes in energy usage by Americans in 2008 resulted in a savings of $19 billion and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the amount created by 29 million cars.

Make a few changes in the following areas, and you can reap the economic, health and safety benefits of going green. Read these eco-friendly living tips and learn what going green can mean for you.

Energy Efficient Homes

  • Audit - To be successful in saving energy at home, start by having a home energy audit conducted by professional Home Energy Auditor. Such a procedure involves having your home professionally inspected to see how efficiently it uses energy and to identify areas in the home where improvements can be made. According to the EPA, such improvements can save significantly on monthly energy bills.

  • Cooling and heating - About half of your energy costs go toward heating and cooling. It's simple to reduce your energy footprint and improve air quality, which is good for your health.

    • Change your filter every three months
    • Have your HVAC system tuned up yearly
    • Seal your heating and cooling ducts and check your roof insulation.
    • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Limit lighting - Considering that lighting accounts for about 15% of your home's electric use, making changes in this area can result in substantial energy savings.

    • Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient ENERGY STAR® compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which last up to 10 times longer and use 75% less electricity.
    • Consider occupancy sensors that turn lights off when you leave a room to save energy. Outdoor motion-sensor lighting also saves energy and improves safety.
  • Windows - According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building Envelope and Windows R&D Programs, windows in the United States cost consumers approximately $35 billion per year in energy. Today's energy-efficient, insulated windows could cut that total by half.
Water
 
  • Stop leaky faucets - A dripping faucet may seem harmless, but you'd be surprised at how much water is lost. According to the U.S. Geological Survey's Water Science School, one faucet that drips 4 drips per minute wastes 138 gallons of water a year.

  • Replace old toilets - Toilets manufactured before 1994 use up to five gallons per flush compared to 1.6 gallons for newer toilets. According to Savingwater.org, replacing an old toilet can save up to 10,500 gallons of water each year, depending on utility rates and usage habits.

  • Maintain appliances - Appliances can sprout leaks because of aging materials, improper connections or ruptured hoses. Sometimes leaks can go unnoticed for weeks, wasting water and potentially causing damage to your home. Be sure to check your water heater, washing machine, refrigerator and other appliances regularly.
Building Materials
If you will be building a new home or renovating, it's possible to go green in your building materials choices. Ask about the use of recycled steel, insulated concrete forms, plant-based polyurethane rigid foam, straw bales, cool roofing and recycled wood/plastic composite lumber.

Go Solar?
When it comes to powering your home, solar energy may be a possibility. You must live in an area that receives adequate sunlight and have a roof that isn't shaded. The cost of converting to solar can also be prohibitive, but there are currently federal, state and local tax credits and rebates available for those who choose to go solar, and the overall price is expected to continue to drop.

May 2, 2013, 10:25 AM

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