“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” — Henry David Thoreau
Dave Bonta and Stephen Snyder bring that quote to life with their book, New Green Home Solutions: Renewable Household Energy and Sustainable Living. Whether you want to figure out your home’s energy use with a simple energy audit, or you’re ready to explore something more involved like solar or wind power, this book will help guide you through the process of cutting back on your energy usage. Plus, the super useful info is punctuated by photos of gorgeous, energy-efficient homes like the one above.
Check out these tips to get started and don’t forget to enter a comment below for your chance to win a copy of the book!
Understanding Energy Usage
Before considering alternative sources for your energy needs, look for ways to reduce the demand. As in the old adage “A penny saved is a penny earned,” any energy saved does not need to be generated by either fossil fuel or renewable energy. If your home is connected to the utility grid, implementing conservation and efficiency strategies means lower bills. If you are building a new home or remodeling an existing one, energy-efficient appliance and building design decisions will reduce renewable energy system expenses and lower or even eliminate your reliance on a backup power supply.
When combined with the efforts of others, your household can make a significant difference on a global scale by adopting responsible energy habits. Here are some easy steps you can take to save money and energy, reduce your CO2 emissions, and improve indoor (and outdoor) air quality as well as your overall quality of life.
Adopt an Energy-Conscious Lifestyle: Simply being aware of what appliances are in use and of what needs to be used and when, can help you adjust habits to minimize household energy use. The most efficient practices are those that don’t require any extra energy input, such as hanging clothes to dry on a clothesline. The next tier of efficiency is to install the most efficient technology and minimize use.
Determine What Your Energy Loads Are: The second step on the renewable energy journey should be to familiarize yourself with how much power your home uses and to pinpoint where your energy dollars are being spent. Study a year’s worth of power bills. Try to determine how much energy is used for water and space heating, air-conditioning, and your other electrical loads. In most areas of the country, you will notice seasonal variations in energy consumption. For most American homes, heating and cooling gobbles up the greatest percentage of power–as much as one-third–and therefore deserves to be the primary focus of your efficiency planning. Water heating is usually the second-largest home energy user, followed by lighting, refrigeration, and home appliances and electronics.
Use an Energy Monitor: Electric appliances can account for a sizable portion of your overall energy consumption and have a large impact on a renewable electricity system’s size and cost. So-called “point-of-use” energy monitors allow you to determine how much power each appliance uses. By simply plugging the device into a socket and then plugging the appliance into the monitor, such as Watts Up? or Kill a Watt energy monitors, it will instantly show which of your appliances are energy hogs and need to be replaced with energy-efficient models.
Watch Your Thermostat: Lowering your thermostat is the quickest way to reduce heating bills. The average homeowner can save about 2 percent of the energy used to heat a home for every degree the thermostat is lowered in winter or raised in summer. It is a common myth that it will take more energy to reheat the house than you save by keeping your thermostat set a few degrees lower. Use a programmable thermostat and set it to reduce the temperature ten degrees when you’re sleeping or away from home; and when there is no possibility of freezing pipes, you can shut down your furnace completely.
Excerpted from “New Green Home Solutions” by Dave Bonta and Stephen Snyder. Reprinted with permission of Gibbs Smith. / Photograph by Jack Bingham from “New Green Home Solutions” by Dave Bonta and Stephen Snyder. Reprinted with permission of Gibbs Smith.
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