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The decision to reduce one’s carbon footprint can start with simple changes within the home. The benefits of making our homes more energy-efficient are threefold. We can reduce our usage of resources, save money on our utility bills, and potentially become eligible for tax rebates and incentives. While there may be initial costs associated with home improvements, there is the potential for saving a lot more money in the long run when you increase energy efficiency.
Reducing Water Consumption
The installation of low-flow fixtures such as sink faucets, shower heads, and toilets is a change that will give you immediate reductions to your water utility bills. These fixtures are relatively inexpensive, and they are designed with a high-pressure output technique that produces a strong flow with less actual usage.
Another economical way to reduce water usage is to install rain barrels at your gutter downspouts. By using captured water, you can lessen the impact of gardening on your water bills. You may also use collected rainwater for washing cars, watering chickens, and filling up small pools to keep your kids and pets cool during the summer.
Weatherproofing for Energy Efficiency
While the best solution for weatherproofing might be replacement windows, there are less expensive methods for keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Older windows and doors can be sealed using caulk around the frames. Be sure to only seal the parts that are stationary so the window or door is still functional. For moving parts, you can utilize vinyl or rubber weather stripping.
In areas with harsh winters, taking the time to apply plastic to your windows can make a difference. The plastic traps a layer of air that acts as extra insulation. If you would prefer a more attractive option, hanging heavy drapery can also provide a layer of protection against the elements.
Increase Air Circulation
Ceiling fans are inexpensive and relatively easy to install. In the summer, use a high speed setting, and set your fans to blow downward. On most standard fans, this setting will be a counterclockwise direction from your perspective looking up at them. In the winter, turn the fans down to a much lower speed. Change the direction to clockwise so that warm air that rises is forced downward at the walls and to the floor.
Planting deciduous trees around your home will offer a good deal of shade to your property in the summer. Because these trees lose their leaves in the winter, they will then allow warming sunlight to shine onto your home. Planting a row of evergreen trees at the edge of your yard can provide a windbreak from cold winds.
Be sure to research the growth rate and height of the trees you plant. Trees will generally grow roots that are the same width as the above-ground branches, so take into consideration your underground pipes and sewer lines. It is also important to keep trees trimmed so they are not touching your roof, and to cut away dead branches at least once a year.
Making even small changes to your home to increase energy efficiency does not only benefit you as a consumer, but it will reduce the strain that utility usage puts on the environment.
Paul Denikin began learning about DIY home repair projects after his daughter, Maggie, was born with special needs. He has learned a lot through trial and error as he has worked to make his family’s home safe and accessible for her. Today, he shares his DIY knowledge on DadKnowsDIY.com, a website that offers home improvement project how-tos and other accessibility information.
Images courtesy of Pixaby