Have you heard of the term Sustainable? Often time’s people use it interchangeably with the term “Green”. Although they are similar they are not the same. “Green” is defined as concerned with or supporting environmentalism. Sustainability covers a broader spectrum. When considering sustainability in your home it usually means energy or water efficiency or improving the quality of air in your home. By making sustainable changes you are benefiting the home and the environment.
Check for drafts around window and doors. You can use an incense stick (remove all drapery to avoid a fire) to check for window or door leaks. If you discover a draft you can seal it with caulk or weather stripping. These items can be found at a local home improvement store. Check with your electric company to see if they do a free energy efficiency check of homes.
Check the furnace and air conditioner to make sure it is running efficiently. Furnace filters should be checked and changed if needed. A clogged and dirty filter will make your furnace work harder, costing you more money. Also check the furnace duct junctions. The easiest way to check this is set your thermostat 10 degrees higher then the room temperature and let your furnace run for ten minutes. Check for any warm spots in the duct junctions. If it is excessively warm, there is a good chance you have a leak. You can remove the insulation, reseal the area with industrial grade duct tape and place the insulation. Having your furnace checked once a year can prevent problems and ultimately save you money in the long run. Late summer or fall are the best times to have your furnace checked, as the rates tend to be higher in the winter. Maintaining your central air is as important. Annual checks are recommended for it also. Spring, before the weather becomes too warm, is the best time to have your air conditioning unit serviced. One other thing you can do is make sure that the area surrounding the unit is clear of grass, weeds or debris and keeping it clean with a garden hose. All of these things can prevent your air condition unit from working properly. Planting shrubs or trees that will shade your air conditioner from direct sunlight will help the unit in the heat of the summer. To keep your air conditioner from working so hard in the heat of the summer, do the chores that heat up your home after the heat of the day. Another easy way to cut your electric bill is programmable thermostats and running your heat producing appliances (stove, oven, clothes dryer, dish washer, etc.) after the sun goes down can really help reduce your utility bills.
Installing an attic fan can also be more energy efficient as it draws cool air in through the windows and removes the warm air through the attic. People who have attic fans installed use their air conditioner less during the spring and fall. Checking the insulation in your attic is another way to save energy. If you have R-19 or less insulation you might want to consider R-30 insulation to help with heating and cooling your home.
The U.S. Geological Survey suggests that a faulty faucet wastes 3 gallons of water a day. Check all your faucets for leaks on a regular basis. Replacing or repairing faucets, shower heads, and toilets that have become leaky will not only save you money but also will prevent mold and mildew from developing. Choosing low flow to replace shower heads and toilets will ultimate save water and money. These items are relatively easy to install yourself.