Tips for Going Green

Following are suggestions to “green-up” your home and your lifestyle. Some of these are simple practices you can implement everyday; others are home improvement projects that will yield substantial energy savings. There are also suggestions to help you feel better, like carefully selecting household cleaning products and choosing low-or-no VOC interior paints. Maintaining your home’s heating and cooling ductwork free of allergens and debris not only impacts your health, but also allows your heating system to operate more efficiently. Taking it a step further to seal and insulate the ductwork will significantly reduce home energy costs. See how you might reduce, reuse and recycle.

Carbon Footprint »
The Lights Are On, But No One’s Home »
What’s That Buzzing In My Ear? »

What’s That Buzzing In My Ear?

  • Unplug electronics when they are not being used. Vampire power (or phantom energy) can account for as much as 10% of home energy use.
  • Invest in re-chargeable batteries.
  • Use energy saving smart power strips.
Fix That Leaky Faucet »

Fix That Leaky Faucet

  • Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. Faucets make up around 15% of a typical home’s indoor water use.
Baby, It’s Cold (Or Hot) Outside »

Baby, It’s Cold (Or Hot) Outside

  • Use ceiling fans. Most ceiling fans use less energy than a light bulb.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat costs around $75 and may pay for itself in one heating/cooling season.  It saves energy by automatically altering the temperature settings.
  • Adjust your thermostat. Raise it a few degrees in the summer and lower it a few degrees in the winter.
  • Fill air leaks with caulking or weather stripping. Cracks around windows and doors are a major energy drain and decrease the efficiency of heating and cooling systems.
  • Increase insulation in attic and other areas.
  • Maintain HVAC units. Schedule regular service maintenance on both heating and cooling units so they will perform more efficiently.
  • Clean ducts and regularly replace filters. Have ductwork professionally cleaned of debris that can restrict air flow and cause dust and dirt to enter the ventilation system.  Filters should be replaced at least every three months or whenever they look dirty to increase efficiency and avoid negative health effects.
  • Seal and insulate ductwork in unheated areas like attics and basements. This is probably one of the most effective ways to reduce energy costs.
  • Install glass doors on wood-burning fireplaces to prevent warm interior air from escaping through the chimney. Keep dampers closed when not in use.  Clean and inspect chimney regularly and burn fully dried hardwoods.
  • Conduct an energy audit.
  • Install a whole house fan.
The Spin Zone »

The Spin Zone

  • Use cold water to wash clothes and run the washing machine only when you have a full load.  About 90% of the energy used in a conventional top-load washer is to heat the water.
  • Maintain your clothes dryer. Clean the lint filter after every load and make sure the dryer’s outside vent is clear.  Set the timer or use the auto dry cycle to stop the dryer when laundry is dry. Over drying wears out your clothes and wastes energy.
  • Run the dishwasher only when it is full and on energy-saver mode.
  • Use energy saving products such as microwaves, electric pans or toaster ovens to cook small meals.
  • If you have a self-cleaning oven, clean it immediately after use. Since it’s already hot, it will take less energy to get to the cleaning stage.
  • Clean the condenser coils and defrost your refrigerator regularly to improve efficiency.
  • Unplug or sell that old refrigerator/freezer in the garage or basement if you don’t need it.
  • Insulate the water heater and turn it down 10-20 degrees. Did you know most units have a vacation setting?
  • Install a solar hot water heater, an on-demand water circulation pump or a tankless water heater.
The Grass Is Greener »

The Grass Is Greener

  • Clean walkways, driveways and patios with a broom instead of a hose.
  • Water the lawn in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid evaporation.  Avoid watering on windy days.  If you use hose sprinklers, use a “soaker” hose or drip irrigation where possible.  Make certain automatic sprinkler systems and timers are operating and covering properly.
  • Install a rain sensor device to override the irrigation cycle of the sprinkler system when adequate rainfall has occurred.
  • Use organic gardening products and natural fertilizer. Mulch garden areas and around trees and bushes.
  • Start a compost pile.
  • Raise the lawn mower blade to at least three inches. This encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture better than a closely-clipped lawn.
  • Use a mulching lawn mower instead of bagging grass clippings. The clippings fall back to the soil and add nutrients.
  • Implement xeriscaping and plant drought resistant landscaping.
  • Plant a tree. A six to eight foot leafy deciduous tree on the south side of your home can block summer sun and help increase air conditioning efficiency up to 10%.  Remember trees add curb appeal when you sell your home.
Out With The Old, In With The New ~ Or Recycled »

Out With The Old, In With The New ~ Or Recycled

  • Replace old worn-out furniture and cabinetry with low-carbon reclaimed or sustainable harvested furnishings.
  • Use low-or-no VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint. Paints made with minimal or no VOC solvents release less toxic air pollutants and are virtually odor free.
  • Replace worn-out carpet with no-VOC carpet or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) flooring.
  • Search out recycled or sustainable materials. Today’s recycled building materials include some remarkable combinations:
    • Insulation made from old jeans and newspaper
    • Glass tiles from recycled bottles or car windshields
    • Countertops from wastepaper, plant and cloth fibers, glass and cement
    • Countertops from recycled glass, seed shells or recycled soda cans
    • Terrazzo flooring from recycled glass
    • Fiberboard panels from recycled paper
    • Floor tiles from car tires or limestone and recycled vinyl
  • Replace old lighting, electronics and appliances, as well as heating and cooling units more than 15 years old with new ENERGY STAR models.
  • Replace old windows with new double pane, low-e windows.
  • Install energy efficient doors.
  • Investigate smart home technology energy savers.
  • Install solar photovoltaic panels.
  • Replace your roof with reusable/recyclable materials. Consider a “cool” or “green” roof.
Bumper To Bumper »

Bumper To Bumper

  • Maintain your car. Get regular tune-ups and maintenance checks.  Use the grade of motor oil recommended by the car’s manufacturer.
  • Keep car tires properly inflated and aligned to improve gasoline mileage.
  • Combine errands into one trip.
  • Ride a bike. Most public transportation systems offer ways to travel with your bike – and then start cycling when you’re closer to your destination.
  • Take the bus or the light rail.
Clean Living »

Clean Living

Your Trash Is Someone Else’s Treasure »

Your Trash Is Someone Else’s Treasure

  • Recycle. Most trash companies will pick up aluminum and tin cans, glass, newspaper, plastics, household and yard waste, as well as bulky items. Visit Colorado Recycles for specific details about individual recycling programs.
  • Reuse grocery bags or buy recycled or canvas bags.