Five sim­ple ways to save en­ergy in the house­hold

Be­ing green not all that dif­fi­cult

The Covington News - - Agriculture & Outdoors - By Joan Brunskill

It’s eas­ier than you think to paint your house “green.”

Sim­ple changes can save re­sources and en­ergy — and per­haps slow global warm­ing. A grow­ing de­mand for en­ergy ef­fi­ciency topped find­ings from the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects’ home-de­sign trend sur­vey for the sec­ond quar­ter of 2007.

The group’s chief econ­o­mist, Ker­mit Baker, said the panel of 500 ar­chi­tec­ture firms found high de­mand for in­su­la­tion pan­els, tan­k­less wa­ter heaters, geo­ther­mal heat­ing and cool­ing, and green floor­ing prod­ucts such as bam­boo and cork.

War­ren, Vt.-based ar­chi­tect John Con­nell, a mem­ber of the in­sti­tute’s hous­ing com­mit­tee, said the No. 1 ques­tion he gets from con­fused home­own­ers is where to start.

For the do-it-your­self home­owner, this is Con­nell’s five­point plan for easy, im­me­di­ate ac­tion:

Light­ning

Chang­ing to flu­o­res­cent bulbs makes sense de­spite re­cent con­cerns about how to dis­pose of the small amount of mer­cury they con­tain.

“If you put in com­pact flu­o­res­cent light­ing to­day you won’t have to change those bulbs for a cou­ple of years at least — and sys­tems are quickly evolv­ing to deal with dis­posal as more and more peo­ple do this,” Con­nell said.

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency is work­ing with bulb mak­ers and re­tail­ers to ex­pand re­cy­cling and dis­posal op­tions. Check with your lo­cal san­i­ta­tion de­part­ment to see if you can re­cy­cle bulbs con­tain­ing mer­cury. If not, the EPA sug­gests seal­ing the bulb in two plas­tic bags and putting it in out­side trash for nor­mal col­lec­tion.

Win­dows

First, with a com­pass, iden­tify which win­dows face south and which north. Use in­su­lat­ing shades on those win­dows to keep heat in or out and slow the loss of en­ergy, Con­nell said.

You can open and close win­dows and shades to help heat or cool the house, de­pend­ing on sea­son and ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion.

“In the south, ther­mal shades work best on the out­side, for a cool­ing ef­fect in hot cli­mates,” he said. They’d have to be made of ma­te­ri­als that stand up to UV rays. “In the north, shades work best on the inside, for keep­ing heat in.”

Ap­pli­ances

Tak­ing good care of ap­pli­ances has a big pay­off. “Ev­ery­thing in my life, in­clud­ing the car, could save en­ergy, if I just main­tain it prop­erly,” Con­nell said.

Clean your re­frig­er­a­tor’s ventilation grill. Have your boiler, fur­nace, air con­di­tion­ing units and clothes dryer ser­viced thor­oughly — es­pe­cially if there are funny noises em­a­nat­ing from any of them.

Re­cy­cle

Re­cy­cle your heated clothes­dryer ex­haust through an ap­pro­pri­ate fil­ter into your house.

“It’s so sim­ple. Go to the lo­cal hard­ware store and ask for a by­pass fil­ter — it’s just an 8-inch cube. You just need a screw­driver and the in­struc­tions are right on the pack­age,” he said. “The by­pass helps hu­mid­ify and heat the house, while the fil­ter still pre­vents lint and dust from get­ting into the air you breathe.”

This change also helps pre­vent ice build-up and rot on the out­side of the house where the ex­haust is vented.

“Of course, it will also raise the mois­ture level in the laun­dry room, so re­mem­ber to leave that door open.”

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