Wednesday, July 18, 2012

House Improvement Ideas for A Greener Life At Home

This is a guest column by Aileen Pablo

As homes become older and people are opting to make improvements rather than move to new locations, more families are wondering what they can do to not only save themselves money but also create a more eco-friendly environment. After all, older homes were built without the innovative materials found in newer homes today making them more of an energy drain than most homeowners would care to admit.

If you are looking for ways to update your older home into a greener way to live, here are a few projects you can do in your house.

Add insulation – This is the easiest way to keep moderate temperatures in and extreme elements out. With recent updates to insulation technology older homes are less equipped to help homeowners do this. Adding insulation can cut your energy costs year round by as much as 10%. And not only is this savings significant but so is the savings to the environment is energy it takes to heat or cool your home.

Plant a tree – This is a great way to quickly upgrade the look of your home, add more carbon dioxide eating plants and create shade to help keep the sun from beating down on your house causing it to heat up faster. With so many benefits it is one of the easiest ways to make a quick and extremely green switch to improve your home.

Go solar without the panels – Just as you want to cool your house naturally on hot days, you will also want to use the power of the sun to help heat your home on cold days. If you have windows that are exposed to the sun, direct the warming rays into your home by opening up your blinds and letting them in. Darkening your house only keeps the cool temperatures inside but exposing it to some natural solar heating helps you to naturally add some warmth without using excessive gas with your heating system.

Save Water – Saving electricity is not the only way to make your home go green. You can also make quick and easy updates to your appliances to save water. This is especially true with older appliances such as toilets and showerheads. In fact, low flow toilets can save an average of 4,000 gallons each year and low flow showerheads can reduce your usage by as much as 50%. Update your home with new looks that come with water saving technology and cut your water bill by gallons each month.

Use sensors on lights – You may feel more comfortable having your lights on in the early evening hours when there is traffic on the street and more people likely to stop by unexpectedly. However, once you are in bed and during the wee hours of the morning, save electricity and set your lights to turn off automatically. This way, you can cut costs without having to rely on your memory to turn off the lights each night before bed.

Weather strip old windows and door jams – As much as 30% of your heating and cooling can slip out of your home and let in the extreme temperatures you are trying to keep out without the proper weather stripping. Visit your local home improvement store to find the right solution for your home and start insulating your door jams and windows easily and more efficiently to reduce costs immediately.

Use zone heating methods intelligently – Many people think by having a wood burning fire they are adding to the warmth of their home. However, these fireplaces tend to suck more heat out of the home by allowing it to get sucked up the chimney then they add. Instead, use covered fireplaces to allow the heat to ventilate out of the fireplace and avoid it from being sucked up through the chimney.

Replace your appliances with high efficiency solutions – New technology has given homeowners a way to go green and protect the environment through high efficiency appliances. Even more money saving and encouraging to make this switch are the utility companies that provide their customers with additional rebates just for making the switch. Contact your utility providers to see if this is something they will do for you.

Homeowners can save significant money each year by making these small home improvement updates and turn their home from an environmental drain to an eco-friendly living solution.

[Image credit: nikcame, Flickr Creative Commons]

Author Bio:

Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of TAFE courses equivalent and interior design courses. When not working, Aileen blogs about travel, lifestyle, home improvement, and beauty tips. She is also often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.If you have a blog and would like free content. You can find him on Google+.