Sustainability Begins at Home

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ April 9, 2010

Want to reduce your carbon footprint? If you're remodeling, adding rooms, or improving your home for a future sale, remember that many green homes are drawing higher prices. The National Trust for Historic Preservation-the nonprofit that helps to preserve historic American homes and neighborhoods-now offers simple tips for cutting energy use and curbing household emissions.

It's no small consideration, greening up your home. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that 17 percent of the total carbon dioxide released into the air every year comes from homes. And greenhouse gas emissions from our use of electricity in the home are twice the amount that your home off-gasses from heating systems.

Simple Sustainability at Your Fingertips

The National Trust says to start by replacing lights and fixtures that gobble energy. I blogged earlier about compact florescent light bulbs, and you can now find these at every home improvement store and supermarket. The bulbs use up to 70 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs to illuminate your home and workspace. And they're going to be required by 2012.

In some cases, you can't mix and match new compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs with existing three-setting fixtures or dimmers. But you can buy a new dimmer designed to work with CFL bulbs for $7.00. For another $10, you can get a basic timer and turn off CF lighting when it's not in use. They're perfect for patio lighting or front-porch lighting if you're away. We can help you understand energy ratings.

Stop Water Waste

Next, the National Trust suggests we cut the routine and casual way we Americans waste water. If you're putting in a new bathroom, choose secure and efficient plumbing fixtures. If you have an existing toilet, check for slow, sinister leaks. You can buy leak-detector tabs in any hardware or home improvement store. The tabs cost less than $1 each and contain non-carcinogenic pigments of bright color that show up in your toilet if you have a leaky tank.

This all seems like common sense to DIYers, but you'd be surprised how many of us skip the small stuff and pay for it later. While you're at it, think about installing water-saving flappers and flow-reducing washers in all your toilets. The washers cost less than a dollar and the flappers are under $10. Low-flow faucets and showerheads can slash water consumption by as much as half!

So far, you've spent less than $20 and done a small part in greening your neighborhood. Every little bit counts!

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