This article was updated on 01/18/19. Happy National Winnie the Pooh Day!
We all know that reducing our carbon footprint is good for the environment. It helps clear the air of pollution emissions and the land of other waste materials.
There are plenty of renovation projects that will drastically reduce your homes carbon footprint; installing solar or wind power generators, purchasing Energy Star appliances, putting in low-flow toilets, replacing windows, upgrading to geo-thermal climate control.
While youre planning and saving for those large projects, here are some quick and easy ones.
Check around your windows and doors. Remove and replace worn or damaged calking and weather stripping. Dont forget attic accesses, door sweeps and basement windows—places that we dont always see or think about.
How often should you do this check and repair task? Its a good idea to do it in both the fall and spring, that way you will be actively preparing for extreme weather without having to work in it.
Improve HVAC Efficiency
Install a programmable thermostat to help cut fuel consumption when youre not home. Furnace and AC maintenance helps those systems work more efficiently, so schedule a checkup with a company that specializes in that type of work to make sure yours is operating smoothly. While you are at it, install a condenser coil mister. This will let your AC work more efficiently, lowering your electric bill and saving wear and tear on your system.
You really dont have to pay a service person to do all the the work involved in the maintenance your HVAC components. For example, cleaning your outdoor condenser coils and cleaning your evaporator coil drip pan are certainly DIY tasks.
Compact florescent and LED bulbs save a lot of energy without necessarily having to change out any fixtures. Building supply stores like Home Depot offer a large range bulbs to upgrade everything from table lamps to decorative fixtures. If you do decide to change fixtures, keep in mind whether you feel confidant to make electrical repairs or upgrades or not.
A bonus is that these bulbs last longer, so you wont have to replace them as often. Thats also fewer to throw away or messing with a ladder if you have a fan/light on a cathedral ceiling. Dont be deceived by the lifetime claimed on the package though; it is often highly inflated, especially with the cheaper Chinese bulbs.
Consumer Reports tests them every so often. They recommend limiting yourself to CFLs that pass Energy Star ratings. The poorly made units often do not spend the money to pass the Energy Star rating because cheaply made units have more problems passing those tests. But that being said, no third party really comprehensively tests the claims on imported brands on a regular basis.
Turn off Electronics Youre not Using
Did you know that even when you turn some televisions off they still draw a trickle of current? The same applies to the DC chargers for laptops and other gadgets. Automatic power strips shut off power to things that are turned off or in standby mode.
They can be purchased at electronics stores like Best Buy and leave you free to think about other things than whether or not you unplugged your cell phone charger.
Shower with Less Water
Low flow shower heads are easy to find and easy to install. Some even come with a trickle flow feature that lets you soap up with the water nearly off while keeping your chosen water temperature, saving even more water, not to mention the energy used to heat it.
If you find that the flow is too low, you can usually open up the head and remove the restrictor. Speaking of water usage, try washing your clothes in cold water. Uncertain? There is now laundry soap that is specially formulated for cold water. It is what we do in our home and the results are excellent.
These five things may look like small home improvements, but they can have a lasting impact on our environment and your monthly power budget. Theyre fast and simple to do. Best of all, once theyre done theyll continue to help you reduce your homes carbon footprint without constant monitoring.
If these tips helped you save money (and feel better about your planet) I would consider it a favor if you would pass the page on to your friends and co-workers. Were all in this together. And feel free to leave a comment below if you have more tips.
Kelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.