Energy-Efficient Homes: The Basics
Making your home more energy efficient, can really make a difference on your energy bills. Below are some basic things you can do without having to do a complete green home remodel.
1. Insulation This can really make a difference on how much energy you’ll need to use to keep your home cool/warm. But please don’t use the fluffy pink stuff! Instead, look for insulation made from eco-friendly materials, such as wool, newspaper, cellulose, hemp and even straw bales which is flame resistant. You also need to make sure to seal all leaks with caulk.
2. The Roof Conventional roofing materials can absorb between 85%-95% of the heat from the sun, which is why you might want to look into replacing it with energy-efficient roofing materials. There are several options available like Cool Roofs which are designed to reflect the heat instead of absorbing it. Materials most commonly used are tiles and painted metal which can reflect between 25% -90% of the heat. There are also green roofs which are made of vegetation or “gardens” which give the existing roof shade by covering it. Other eco-friendly roofing options include slate, natural wood shingles, and recycled metal.
3. Heating and Cooling Your heating and cooling system should always be at their optimal level of efficiency which is why it is very important to change your system’s filters regularly. There are also small things you can do which can make a big difference such as keeping your thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees in winter and using fans with the windows open during the summer instead of the A/C. If it’s too hot to open the windows, you can use the air conditioning for a few hours during the day, then open the windows during the evening when the air outside is much cooler.
4. Windows and Doors Inefficient doors and windows can largely contribute to your home's energy loss. Replace windows with energy efficient models and use thick foam tape on the insides of both windows and doors. Do the same with your garage door, if you got one. Using energy saving window treatments can also help.
5. The Pipes The application of pipe insulation is quite easy and it’s also relatively cheap. You’ll find it in long, foam tubes that are slit along one side. The slit side fits over the pipe, which helps retain the heat that keeps the water hot without wasting energy.
6. Your Water Heater This element can also be an energy waster. In this case if want to save energy, a tankless water heater would be a good investment. You can also wrap a traditional water heater with insulation, which will help it retain heat just as with the water pipes. Another easy way to save energy here is to lower the temperature of the water heater by a few degrees, since most of us usually add cold water to the hot water to cool it down anyways, so this wouldn’t make a big difference on your comfort but definitely on your energy bill.
Just follow some of these tips and see how easy it can be to save money, and the planet, by making your home more energy efficient.