EBook Excerpt: Week 1 – Doing Your Green Home Audit

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Here is the next in our weekly series of excerpts from the EBook, “6 Weeks to a Greener Lifestyle.” See the note at the end of this post for more information. — Paula

How to Get Started

First, look around your home for places where is energy being wasted. You will probably find numerous places where energy is being consumed unnecessarily in your home every day. Most are common sense once you see them, but probably escaped your attention before you looked more closely.

Consider the following three examples:

1) Stop drafts. Drafts around windows and under doors allow heat to escape in the winter and hot air to enter in the summer. These areas can be sealed to reduce those energy losses by purchasing weather stripping at your local hardware store for a few dollars.

2) Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use about 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs. CFLs also give off a lot less heat, keeping your rooms cooler in the summer. They will pay for themselves several times over. In the next few years, light-emitting diode (LED) lighting fixtures will become available at lower prices, and at that time I may be recommending those to you. But not now. Go with CFLs.

3) Set your thermostat wisely: Avoid heating or cooling the house when no one is home. Making sure your air-conditioning or heating is not running while you are away from home, at work or on vacation is crucially important. In addition, when you are home, think about keeping the temperature in your home a few degrees warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter. A cooler home in the winter is especially helpful at night, as most people sleep better when the room is cooler.

Taking a Look at Water Usage

It is important to take a look at how you use water in and around the home, as well
We will deal with water more comprehensively in Chapter 6, but it is very important to think now about how to reduce water use. Fresh water is rapidly becoming a scarce resource, and it is also going up in cost. Include the following four items in your self-audit.

1) Look for leaks and fix all leaks promptly. Leaky faucets and running toilets are wasting water 24/7.

2) Don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth or shave. There is no need to have the water running when you are not using it. Turn the faucet off while brushing or shaving.

3) Try taking shorter showers and install low-flow shower heads. Older shower heads flow at 4-8 gallons per minutes, while newer low-flow shower heads are limited to no more than 2.2 gallons per minute. If you have an older version and reduce your shower time by just 3 minutes per day, and assuming that you take a shower every day (ahem!), one person can save 4,380 to 8,760 gallons of water each year. Since that water also does not have to be heated, you will reduce your usage of both water and energy, and you will see the difference in lower utility bills.

4) Avoid bottled water. Not only is it expensive (about 100 times more expensive than tap water), but it also causes a waste problem from plastic (petroleum-derived) bottles that, more often than not, wind up in landfills.

Next post: The Professional Home Audit

Steve Stillwater is passionate about developing a greener lifestyle, and his goal is to show you how to incorporate easy-to-implement green living ideas into your life. He blogs and writes regularly about green living ideas and provides a continuously updated green news feed on his website. For more information or to buy and download the full Ebook, “6 Weeks To A Greener Lifestyle,” just follow this link.

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