Top tips for going green in the home

Thu, 10/17/2013 - 08:23

Energy consumption is largely dependent on where a homeowner lives, the local climate and the types and number of energy-using devices are in the house. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2009, the major energy uses in the average home was space heating by 42 percent, electronics, appliances and lighting by 30 percent, water heating made up 18 percent, air conditioning consumed 6 percent and refrigeration typically used 5 percent.
Homeowners are consuming more energy than ever as multiple televisions or computers, gaming systems and other rechargeable products enter the common house. As a result of these changes, appliances and electronics are accounting for a greater percentage of energy use and utility bills are increasing. According to the EIA, natural gas and electricity are the most-consumed energy sources in U.S. homes, followed by heating oil and propane.
Those who are looking to decrease energy use and improve the sustainability of their homes may want to consider implementing a number of new habits into a daily routine and invest in new materials and technologies. Here are four ways to reduce energy use in a home this year:
1) Adjust thermostat settings. A homeowner who wishes to reduce his or her monthly heating and cooling bills may want to consider setting the thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save. The few degrees difference will hardly impact comfort, but could save a property owner a decent amount of money. 
2) Invest in radiant floor heating. To see a significant reduction in heating costs, a homeowner may want to consider installing a radiant floor heating system in his or her house. The eco-friendly technology decreases heat loss, which limits how much energy a heating system must burn to create warmth. By piping heat throughout the floorboards of a house, rooms remain at a comfortable temperature with warmth applied directly to the spaces most used by homeowners. Heat rises, which is why it is important for comfort and energy efficiency to ensure that the warmth is pumped in low. 3) Install efficient lighting. According to the EIA, lighting, appliances and electronics consumed about 30 percent of an average homeowner's energy budget. To reduce this, a homeowner can throw out or use up the last of the incandescent bulbs in the house and replace them with light emitting diodes. LED bulbs are significantly more energy efficient, have a longer lifespan and require reduced maintenance. All of these attributes allow a homeowner to reduce the amount he or she is spending on lighting during a given year, or for the lifespan of the bulb. 
4) Run appliance using less energy. According to World Watch, about 85 percent of the energy used to machine wash clothes goes into heating the water. As a result, just by turning down the temperature in the washing machine, a person would be able to save energy. Consider washing clothing materials in cold or even warm water whenever possible to save money and reduce the environmental impact of this chore. Other machines can also be run more effectively in the home by adding switch light breakers or extension chords with off buttons to reduce the consumption of ghost energy. For example, when a phone charger is still plugged in, but not attached to the cell phone, the device is still drawing energy from the socket. Turn the process off or unplug the device to reduce energy consumption.