Thursday, April 10, 2008

Home improvement that pays you back

There are lots of folks telling you to do something to make your home more “green” these days. As a home efficiency expert at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there is only one measurable, cost-effective way to make your home greener and pay yourself back for the effort: make your home more energy efficient. Energy efficiency not only pays you back with lower energy bills, it also improves comfort and helps you go green by lowering your carbon footprint.

OK, the next question is: how do I start? At EPA, we usually say the easy first step is installing energy efficient lighting, like compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). You can then buy ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances and home electronics, which is easy to do and effective no matter where you live.

The next thing to improve is your home’s envelope — the outer walls, ceiling, floors, windows and doors. Improving your home’s envelope means sealing up the places around your home where air leaks in or out and then adding insulation in places that are easy and cost effective. The attic and the basement as well as crawlspaces are usually best places to start. And if you’re handy, you can do these projects yourself. ENERGY STAR has a free “Do-it-yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating Your Home” on their Web site. Alternatively, you may want to hire an advanced home energy contractor to do the work.

Finally, you can tackle your heating and cooling system, including your duct work. Most of this work should be hired out to a professional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contactor. Be sure to ask them if they check, seal and insulate ducts. If your system is more than 15 years old and needs replacement, that is a good opportunity to make an efficiency upgrade to the system.

For more information on all these improvements and other free online tools, check out the ENERGY STAR Web site.

Doug Anderson
National Project Manager

No comments: