Here are some ways to make your Pacific Northwest home greener and less expensive…
Do-it-yourself home energy audits are a great way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint… best of all, it’s free! Here’s a list we found over at The Daily Green that will help you find the easiest and most effective ways to save some cash and the environment.
1. Open your energy bill and really look at it. Bills are fairly high up there on the list of mail we don’t like getting, but energy bills especially can hold helpful information about when you use the most energy, and how much you’re paying. Once you review costs each month, you’ll start noticing patterns that can be helpful in reducing your overall usage during peak months.
2. Find air leaks in your home. If you’ve got air leaks, you’ve got an energy efficiency problem (reduced by 5-30% per year). Where to look? Places where two building materials meet (corners, chimneys, where pipes or wires pass through walls, along the foundation). Check the insulation in your attic and make sure it’s still in good shape (not crumbly or compacted). Make sure your water pipes, furnace ducts, and exterior walls are all insulated appropriately so you keep the Pacific Northwest winter out, and your cozy heat in.
3. Check out your heating and cooling. Check furnace filters (which usually need to be changed every month or two during winter months) and change them if dirty. Clean dust and dirt from central air conditioning and vents. Close vents in rooms you don’t use often — no need to heat an empty room.
4. Swap out energy-hog appliances for less wasteful models. For about $20, you can get a handy little device called a Kill-A-Watt. It plugs into any outlet, and when you plug in your appliance, the Kill-A-Watt will tell you how much energy this appliance uses — and more importantly, how much this appliance is costing you per month. Not a bad little household helper.
If you find an appliance that’s costing you an arm and a leg to operate, you should consider an upgrade to a newer model that’s Energy-Star certified.
6. Unplug it! EIGHT PERCENT of our annual electric bills are due to electronics that are plugged in, but not turned on, such as TV’s, stereos, cell phone chargers, etcetera. Unplug it if you’re not using it, or, for best convenience, plug regularly-used items into a power strip and simply switch it off when items aren’t in use.
7. Examine your lighting. High-wattage bulbs can easily be switched out for CFL’s, which are cheaper in the long run and often are subsidized by Puget Sound Energy via an instant rebate at several Northwest retailers. Start with the bulbs you use most often and work your way down, so you’re not overwhelmed at the initial investment. Get rid of halogen lamps, which consume loads of energy. Outside, motion detectors can work wonders for your energy usage, since the lights are only on when someone is around.
8. After make changes, take another look at your bill in a few months. If you’re not seeing much of a difference, it may be worth it to take a second look, or hire the pros to come out and find what you may have missed.
Conducting your own energy audivt may not be your most exciting Saturday of all time, but it will pay off, both for your Pacific Northwest home and your wallet. To find Green Homes in Whatcom County, contact me or view featured Northwest Green Properties.
Photo Credit: CL