Turning Your Home Green

1. Get a home energy audit

Do you know the R-value of the insulation in your walls, or attic or the air exchange rate for your home? If not, it’s time for a  home energy audit.  Investing a few bucks in this service has the potential to net huge energy and monetary savings, depending on the efficiency of your current home; if you’re willing to follow the rest of the tips below — depending on the results of your audit — there is really no limit to how much you’ll save over the long run.

Potential savings: $$ thousands.

2. Add insulation

You can almost never have too much insulation. The attic is a good place to start — it’s often overlooked a bit when a home is built, because it isn’t common living space, but if you aren’t up to R-50, you’re losing money (not to mention cool air in the summer, and heat in the winter) out of the top of your home. Not sure where to start? Your energy audit should let you know the proper amount to add.

Potential savings: $300 per year, per project  if you divide up attic, walls,  both will amount to $600.

3. Seal windows and doors

Caulking and weather-stripping windows and doors has a great bang for your buck. While brand-new windows have a long return on investment — they cancost a lot! — sealing up windows or adding Low-E windows or  storm windows will  make a noticeable difference. Combine that with weather stripping on doors and windows that need it — like double hung windows and others that may not seal as tightly as they used to — and it won’t take long to see the difference.

Potential savings: $15 per window or door per year.

4. Increase the efficiency of your HVAC system

Once you get everything sealed up, you can earn back some $$ on your heating and cooling systems. Seal & insulate the ducts with R-6 duct insulation. You’ll likely spend a few hundred bucks now, but since about 40 percent of your home’s energy costs go to heating and cooling, you’ll earn that back pretty quickly, and take the rest of the savings over the years to the bank. And a programmable thermostat  may yield up to $150 in savings per year.

Potential savings: $150 – $360 per year

5. Save water

We  flush hundreds of gallons of the stuff down the drain every day. So, while conserving water is  important for the planet’s health, it can improve your bank account’s health, too. Start with a low-flow showerhead ($65 per year) and add a water efficient toilet ($25 per year), step up with a dual-flush toilet ($23 over a water efficient toilet), or go big-time with a more efficient water heater ($48 per year) or even a whole house water filter ($312 per year).

Potential savings: Up to about $450 per year.

6. Invest in green appliances

Your refrigerator, electric dryer are the biggest electricity users in your home.. Upgrading to more efficient models will save lots of energy, and quite a few $$  too. A new clothes washer will earn you about $70 per year, a more efficient dishwasher can earn you $13 each year, and a greener fridge can even save up to $10 per year.

Potential savings: $100 per year, give or take.

7. Icing on the Cake

Well, what’s left to do? If you’ve already accomplished all the above, you’re ready to get really serious. Solar-powered heating and air, or a totally self-sufficient home might sound very interesting. It might requiere a whole new heating and cooling system, or a  new house, but, depending on your current situation, investing now for the next 50 years of green living might be the right move for you.

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