Guest Blogger #747, Entry #1748, October 23, 2012
For many, green living means more than fostering a sustainable environment. In many cases, the push for energy efficiency comes more from saving money than it does from creating a healthier ecological system. But you have to admit, reducing the negative impact humans have on the world is a pretty good side effect of having extra cash in the bank. That’s why finding more efficient means of performing daily tasks is a necessity that spans personal, business, and government levels.
1. Home Is Where the Start Is
The foundation for a sustainable environment stems from the place individuals spend most of their time: the home. For homeowners, making even a few changes around the house can lead to positive environmental impacts long-term. This is especially true if homeowners on a large scale are aware of the benefits of energy efficiency and if they implement changes consistently and routinely. Most people think “green” living requires innovative technology, extreme home makeovers, and big investments to see progress, but the reality is that small changes like Energy Star-rated appliances and better control of your thermostat are as cost efficient as they are energy efficient. But what are other ways to protect your wallet, your home, and the environment in general?
2. Window Tint Is “Cool”
Much like your car, your home can benefit from window tint, which can be responsiblefor blocking up to 70% of the sun’s heat and harmful UV rays. With this level of protection from the heat, you’ll reduce the amount of work your air-conditioning unit has to do, resulting in a lower utility bill each month. Plus, there are other perks. Tinting your home windows reduces damage to electronics, furniture, and flooring; protects your privacy against Looky Loo’s; and keeps your skin from prematurely aging by reducing ultraviolet light. And let’s face it, tint just looks cool.
3. Vent Your Attic Heat Frustrations
Your attic is pretty much the “head” of the house and when that thing is hot and feverish, the rest suffers. So does your wallet. If you have less than R-22 insulation in your attic, you and your wallet must be very uncomfortable (the Department of Energy can tell you the appropriate amount you should have depending on your region). Proper insulation and ventilation will alleviate an overheated attic space and reduce
cooling costs by about 20%. After insulating, the next piece is to ventilate. The standard gable vent reduces attic temperatures by approximately 10 degrees and is relatively inexpensive. Requiring more of an investment – but yielding a bigger return – is a ridge-and-soffit vent system, the most effective way to vent your attic. It outperforms fans and keeps attic temps as low as 100 degrees by cooling the underside of the roof with air pulled in from the eaves and out of the roof’s summit.
4. “Green” Without a Lot of Green
You don’t have to own a home to make a difference. And if you do own a home, you don’t have to invest in updated appliances, professional services, or DIY projects to reduce your carbon footprint. Altering the way you live and the products you buy can be just as beneficial to the earth; and while they may not necessarily reduce your expenses, they will certainly reduce the expenses of our ecosystem. Pay attention to the cleaning products you use to make sure they don’t contain chemicals that are toxic to you and to the environment, such as butyl cellosolve and triclosan. When painting interiors or exteriors, try zero- or low-volatile organic compound paints that won’t leak solvents and toxic metals into the atmosphere before and after the paint has dried. And if you have a green thumb, turn it into a “green” thumb by using compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. These tricks are low-cost ways to heal our ecosystem and only involve altering the way you live and shop.
So whether you’re motivated by sustainability or savings, keeping the environment in mind during your daily activities goes a long way toward creating a stable ecology. It doesn’t require a huge investment of time or money to make the simple adjustments that will instantly provide you with financial relief and, ultimately, relieve the environment; your retirement fund – and the planet – will thank you for it.
Jared Diamond is a content contributor with Home Star Search, a leading informational resource on rent to own home availabilities. Jared enjoys writing on topics ranging from energy conservation to personal finance.
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