TIP OF THE WEEK
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle starts at home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, residential use accounts for more than one-fifth of the nation’s total energy consumption. Adopting an earth-first, energy saving mindset will let you make adjustments around your home so that you can feel good about your family’s contributions to protect the environment.
Green energy: Improving your home’s energy efficiency is not only good for the planet, it’s good for your wallet. After all, wasted energy is money lost in monthly utility bills. Numerous factors influence a home’s energy efficiency, or lack thereof. Air leaks, outdated appliances or inefficient heating and cooling systems can all negatively impact your home’s energy usage.
Structural improvements: Correcting any structural issues can go a long way toward making your home more efficient. Give your home a thorough inspection to identify and repair leaks and cracks around windows, doors and duct work. Remember that poorly sealed attics and basements are also common culprits of energy loss.
Appliances and major systems: Upgrading your appliances and temperature control systems also helps drive more efficient energy use throughout the house. Look for Energy Star-certified products, which are designed to save energy without sacrificing on performance. Where possible, make purchases that will perform double duty.
Fuel sources: Choosing the right energy source can also help lessen your impact on the environment. For example, using propane-powered appliances in your home can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to a recent study sponsored by the Propane Education & Research Council, propane-powered furnaces emit 73 percent fewer greenhouse gases than electricity.
For more information about using propane and propane-powered appliances in your home, visit propane.com.
Increase natural light: Buyers are becoming aware of the mood- and productivity-enhancing benefits of natural light, and homes with big windows have always been in demand. Adding windows to a room can be a time-consuming affair. Not so with adding a skylight. For well under $5,000, a professional can install an Energy Star qualified, solar powered no-leak fresh-air skylight, like those from Velux America. Professional installation costs nationally ranges from around $900 to $2,325, with an average of $1,400, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
The final touch: Decorative hardware on shutters is an easy, economical way to upgrade exteriors. Yet this fine detail often gets overlooked. Beautifully crafted, historically accurate Atlantic hardware, including elegant pintel and hinge combinations, make functional shutters pop on homes, adding dimension and drawing attention. Artful, refined Mid-America Vinyl hardware, including charming hinges and spindle-hooks, can make vinyl shutters indistinguishable from functional shutters, boosting curb appeal.
For the birds: Take a look at your birdfeeders and birdbaths in anticipation of spring’s arrival. The Humane Society of the United States says you want to make sure to keep your birdfeeders away from your birdbath to avoid contamination, and to rinse your birdbath daily before you refill it. Birdbaths should be cleaned weekly, using a solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water. Use a scrub brush to pull up debris and rinse the bath again before you add fresh water.
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Home Help: How green is your house?
TIP OF THE WEEK