You have probably heard about the advantages of replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs or about Government energy tax credits for your home, but how much can these little steps actually help the environment? Well, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, your home can cause TWICE the greenhouse gas emissions of a car. Improving energy efficiency in the home can be as good for your wallet as for your conscience.
Here are a few simple places to begin saving energy in your home:
- Turn off lights when you leave a room.
- Unplug your kitchen appliances (even coffee makers) when they’re not being used. Use a power strip to turn off your electronic equipment. At least five percentage of the average household’s monthly utility bill goes toward electronic devices and appliances that are not even turned on. Eliminate “phantom load”.
- Clean your filters for your furnace and air conditioner regularly. Dust and other debris can force them to use more energy than necessary.
- Make sure your home’s windows, doors, hot water heater, attic, and other areas are well insulated to avoid energy loss.
- Wash clothes in cold water.
- Give the dryer a rest and hang your clothes to dry on a clothesline. In colder climates, air dry your clothes in your basement (we did that when we lived in Chicago).
- Install a programmable thermostat to automatically manage the temperature in your home and adjust to ENERGY STAR settings.
ENERGY STAR – The brightest stars are the most energy efficient
The U.S. Department of Energy, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, began a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This program is called ENERGY STAR. The ENERGY STAR label is now on over 50 product categories. The ENERGY STAR website is full of information regarding the advantages of purchasing ENERGY STAR products, including buyer’s guides and the ability to search for rebates on select products and finding stores that sell ENERGY STAR appliances near you. For more information about this program, visit our page called “Maximizing Tax Savings.”
Federal Energy Tax Credits – greening your green
Need to do some home renovation? Did you know that by installing ENERGY STAR rated windows and doors, you can receive up to 30% of the initial cost back as a tax credit? You can even get a tax credit for that hybrid car you want for up to $7,500. The new stimulus package has increased the credit from 10% to 30% of total costs and extended the credit to cover new products. Additionally, ENERGY STAR has expanded to provide guidance on obtaining tax credits for your home and provides a list of businesses that have earned the ENERGY STAR label. For more information, visit our page called “Maximizing Tax Savings.”
Utilities – utilizing your green ambitions
You can also go to each utility company’s website to find out more information about specific program incentives. Some companies offer rebates on energy saving items such as efficient furnaces, boilers, water heaters, insulation and clothes washers. Making these smart purchases is a great way to maximize your efficiency with minimal expenses.
Suggested web links:
contributed by Natasha Ruser| Masters of Urban Planning and Policy Candidate | 6/4/2009, updated by John Watson on 3/10/2012