Friday, January 9, 2009

10 Green Home Improvement Resolutions You Must Make Now

Most of us will make resolutions on January 1st. We'll vow to quit smoking, lose weight, go to church regularly, stop drinking and to quit loafing. Most of these resolutions will be forgotten or discarded after a few weeks, and we will find ourselves back on the smokes, cakes, football, booze or the couch.

Why not make some resolutions now that will help you lower your carbon footprint and increase the energy-efficiency of your home throughout the winter and for years to come. You know what they say, "If you can't change yourself, you can at least change the environment in which you live." Nobody actually says that, but I am sure they will once they learn about these 10 green home improvement resolutions.

Resolution One: Heating
The number one source of energy consumption in the wintertime is heating. Your first resolution should be to replace your inefficient heating system. If your furnace is over twenty years old, you should think about investing in a new one. Find a contractor who has experience with energy-efficient heating systems. He should be able to calculate your home's heat loss and prescribe the proper heater for it. Make sure to purchase an Energy Star heater.

Resolution Two: Improve Furnace Efficiency
You may have a top-of-the-line furnace, but it can always stand to be tweaked for further efficiency. The easiest way to do this is to keep your filters clean, close off rooms you do not use and keep baseboards and registers clear. Make sure that drapes don't hang in front of vents. Also, you might want to invest in sealing your ducts if not already sealed. This can reduce heat loss by twenty percent.

Resolution Three: Improve Your Insulation
When you hire that contractor, have him recommend the insulation that is best for your climate. Insulating spray foam and cellulose insulation are great ways to insulate the attic of your home without undergoing a complete renovation.

Resolution Four: Improve Your Windows
Your windows are also a source of wintertime heat loss. The best but most expensive thing to do would be to replace them with double or triple pane windows. Make sure the cracks between window and house are sealed tightly. Hanging blackout curtains is a cheap way to keep warm. These curtains can reduce heat loss by 25%. A loose window pane can be fixed with little muss.

Resolution Five: Improve Your Doors
Any place a hole is punched in the thermal envelope of your house is a great place to look to for improvements. You can replace your old garage door with an insulated version. Garages are tremendous energy sucks, rarely built with efficiency in mind. Put weather stripping around your doors and windows to keep the cold air from coming in the crack. You can also purchase thick insulated doors for a few hundred dollars. These doors, like the garage doors, are filled with polystyrene.

Resolution Six: Improve Your Thermal Envelope
Warm air can escape through even the tiniest of holes. The electrical outlet is no exception. Foam insulating gaskets can easily stop this problem. An old fireplace may still have a cast iron flue damper. These flue dampers aren't known for being energy efficient. It might be time to upgrade to a modern damper. They can reduce heat loss by 90% when compared to the old-school cast iron models. Glass doors on the fireplace can also save energy.

Resolution Seven: Improve Your Water Heater
Now that you're all cozy and warm, you'll want to make sure that you have plenty of hot showers for those cold winter days. Water heaters can last about 15 years max. Replace your model with an Energy Star model. Also, you can put an insulating jacket around the tank. This has the potential to eliminate heat loss by 40%. Your water should be set at 120 degrees and make sure to insulate your hot water pipes as well as the length of pipe that leads into the heater.

Resolution Eight: Install A Programmable Thermostat
A programmable thermostat can save fifteen percent on your heating bills. On top of the monetary savings, it is good for the environment. While you are at work during the day, your heater will turn completely off or go down to the lowest setting to, you know, keep your goldfish and other fragile things warm.

Resolution Nine: Invest in a Pellet Stove
Tired of not having a fireplace? Why not get something better? Burn your bio-trash to stay warm. Spend the day roasting chestnuts on an open fire at Grandma's house. Spend the evening roasting chestnut shells for warmth in your pellet stove. Pellet stoves are a bit pricey, but they are cleaner than log-burning stoves, pump out the grip of warmth and put bio-waste to good use.

Resolution Ten: Go Solar
The best way to power your furnace and your water heater is with solar power. Solar power packages are expensive, but you don't have to buy them all at once. You can start with a converter and work your way off the grid. Each time you install a solar panel, you will eventually save money on it. Being that it is wintertime, the best solar investment may be evacuated tubes. These tubes are marvelous solar collectors that work even in cold and overcast climates.

article and image found HERE.

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