A Dozen Do-It-Yourself Tips for a Green House

From on April 02, 2007 in CalFinder News

Some energy-saving projects - new windows, a new roof, new kitchen or bathroom fixtures - definitely require professional expertise, and when you plan one of those projects, we can help you find an excellent contractor. Meanwhile, though, there are a lot of things you can do around the house yourself to drastically reduce your energy consumption. Most of them are free or inexpensive, and can lead to big savings by improving the efficiency of your home’s most power-hungry features: temperature control, water heating, and lighting. Here are some do it yourself tips to help you get started.

  1. Whenever possible, use natural light instead of turning on the switch. Use task lighting instead of lighting up the whole room. And when you’re not using a light, turn it off.
  2. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. They use 25% of the power of incandescent bulbs, savings that can really add up. You’ll also save money because unlike incandescent bulbs, they last for years. These days, compact fluorescent bulbs are also available in full-spectrum light, for those who don’t like that institutional white, and in many shapes, including covered floodlights, for those who don’t care to look at spiral tubes.
  3. For holiday lights, night lights, accent lights, display cases, under shelves and the like, consider replacing incandescent or halogen bulbs with some of the new LED-based options, which are so energy efficient they cost only pennies per month to use.
  4. Turn off computers, monitors, and small appliances when they’re not in use. Consider putting all the devices in each room on a single power strip, and switch it off when you leave the room.
  5. Replace weatherstripping around windows and doors; caulk leaks.
  6. Vacuum the coils of your refrigerator frequently; they tend to gather dust and crud, which drastically reduce its cooling efficiency and make it work much harder. If you’ve got indoor pets, do this even more often.
  7. Clean or replace furnace and air conditioner filters frequently. Also keep the registers clean. You’ll get better temperature control, not to mention lower energy bills and longer life for your HVAC system.
  8. In winter, turn your thermostat down to 68°; raise it to 72° in summer. Consider installing a programmable thermostat.
  9. Insulate your attic with high R-rated insulation.
  10. Turn down your water heater (115° is hot enough for most needs); wrap it and its pipes with insulation to conserve heat.
  11. Replace your shower head with a low-flow model to reduce both water consumption and heating expense.
  12. Replace faucet washers, toilet flappers, etc. to reduce leakage. Many Bay Area residents are finding that since their cities switched from chlorine to chloramine as a water purifier, these parts deteriorate at a much faster rate than before.

Once you get started looking for ways to save energy around the house, we’re sure you’ll find more. If you have any energy-saving tips you’d like to share with the rest of our readers, please let us know.