Making your home more eco-friendly can be a costly business if you’re committed to energy independence and sustainability, and if you can’t afford to install solar panels or low-energy appliances you might be at a loss as to how to get started. Luckily there are a lot of ways you can reduce your energy costs and reduce your impact on the environment (or even to make a positive impact!), a lot of which are very cheap or free.
Here are a few quick and dirty projects to improve your energy efficiency in your home and do good things for your environment.
Having plants in your yard is great, but just keeping a green lawn is expensive and depletes water resources, which is dangerous considering the massive water shortages in the US these last several years. Don’t water your lawn as much and instead plant trees around your house. You’ll want to keep them at least 10 feet away from your walls to keep their root systems from breaking into your house’s foundation. As they grow they’ll provide shade over the rest of your lawn, which will massively reduce the amount of water you’ll need to sustain plants down below, while cooling the entire are naturally through the plants’ transpiration processes. That means lower energy bills to keep your home cool in the summer, and less annoying glare through your windows.
Most appliances will start consuming more energy as they get older because as they age parts wear out or clog with filth. Get your central heating and air serviced regularly and clean or replace air filters every few months to make sure that your systems don’t have to work needlessly hard. The same goes for your clothes dryer. Dryer lint can get trapped in difficult to reach areas of your dryer well beyond your filter. This not only can make it function significantly less efficiently, but it can also be a fire hazard since lint is extremely flammable.
Minimizing heat loss (or cold loss) is one of the most effective ways to reduce energy bills, since a large percentage of a home-owner’s energy bill comes directly from their climate control systems. There are several ways to make sure that your home is as insulated as possible. The easiest and most obvious way is of course to make sure that your walls, crawl space, and roof are all appropriately insulated, but that’s not where it ends; Check to ensure that window and door frames are properly sealed to prevent air leaks, and make sure that your door jambs are insulated and seal properly (you can find insulation strips at any home supply store).
Another interesting way to insulate that’s beginning to become more popular is to allow plants to grow over your house. Allowing ivy to creep up the side of your house will provide a layer of leaves that will hold the shaded air in, and the leaves themselves will absorb some of the sun’s energy and divert it from your house. Additionally the evaporation out of the leaves will cool their immediate surroundings and help regulate the temperature.
About the author: Jason Wall is an HVAC technician with decades of experience and an enthusiastic energy efficiency nut. He writes for Griffith Energy Services about heating maintenance and air conditioning services.