Going ‘green’ is the latest trend for homeowners. Whether to cut costs on utilities or reduce the impact on the environment, there are plenty of benefits to making small environmentally-friendly changes. But, if you’re a new homeowner, where do you begin?
We've called on a group of experts to provide their tips for new homeowners. No matter your budget, these ideas are sure to assist in your environmentally conscious home makeover.
“If there is any single piece of advice I can give to a new home buyer, it is to have the home fully evaluated by a trained, certified and licensed energy efficiency professional,” said Jeffrey Tamburro, author of “Watts In This For Me?, A Skeptic's Guide To Home Energy Efficiency” and a RESNET Certified Building Energy Analyst. “[It] is the only way the potential buyer is going to know the true status of the insulation, HVAC equipment, air infiltration, etc.”
Tamburro also suggests working with a realtor who is knowledgeable about energy efficiency technologies. That way the environmental impact is part of your home search.
Living Well, Spending Less
If you already purchased your home and are working with a limited budget, there are a number of cosmetic changes that will aid in your plans to go green. The simplest is to switch light bulbs.
"One of the easiest and most effective ways to 'go green' would be to take advantage of all of the many benefits of LED lighting,” suggests Jonathan Stovall, founder of Energy Squad. “As a renter, you probably never would even consider buying light bulbs that would last for over a decade, but with LED bulbs, you can instantly and dramatically improve the lighting in your new home while saving you money on your monthly power bill.”
Another quick fix is to install ceiling fans.
“Running a ceiling fan can take the temperature of a room down six or seven degrees, eliminating the need to crank up the air conditioner,” stated Sean Murphy, DIY Specialist at Build.com.
A few sets of well-designed, thermal drapes will also help control the temperature in your home.
“[They] are lined to help block heat, harmful UV rays and drafts in the winter,” said green lifestyle expert and author Danny Seo. “When the drapes are closed during the day in the summer or on extremely cold days, you can save as much as 20 percent on your energy bill, with an on average savings of $480 a year.”
If you’re looking to make major adjustments to your home, and your budget allows, replacing thermostats, appliances and plumbing will make a huge difference.
A programmable thermostat, for instance, allows you to program temperature changes in your home while you’re away – at work or on vacation. According to Jenna Pizzigati-Coppola, founder and owner of Pizzigati Designs, this simple switch can greatly reduce your energy costs and consumption.
If you want even more control, we suggest an automated thermostat that you can change using a mobile app. That way, if you forget to program or your schedule changes, you can make adjustments on the fly.
On the major appliance front, installing Energy Star compliant is the way to go, shared Murphy. While some appliances come standard with these features, most don’t. This is surprising, considering they can be up to 20 percent more efficient than those without.
The other major appliance culprit is in your walls, literally.
“Heating water has been known to account for as much as 15 percent of a home’s total energy use,” said Amy Mathews, expert contractor and service pro for HomeAdvisor. It’s an expensive remodel, but Mathews recommends installing a high-efficiency hot water heater.
“As heated water travels through pipes, much heat can be lost to the outside,” Mathews shared. “To keep the heat of the water flowing to your faucet, make a simple change by adding or updating the insulation around your pipes. To further keep water moving heated to your faucet, install an on-demand hot water circulation pump, which sends hot water to a faucet in two seconds preventing heat loss of water waiting in pipes.”
You can also make the switch to low-flow showers and faucets as well as low-flush toilets.
Better Living for All of Us
It can be daunting to take on any home renovation or update, especially for a first time homeowner, but don’t let that keep you from making a few changes that make a huge difference. We hope these tips will inspire you to reduce your footprint, even just a little.
If you have any tips of your own, or stories to share of how you went ‘green,’ we’d love to hear them! Please share in the comments below.