By Dan Krell
Being green has become mired in controversy and scandal. As “green jobs” are being touted to save our economy; the recent controversy surrounding the solar company, Solyndra, is making some people wonder if a green agenda is more than just making your home more energy efficient. Some might even argue “green” is becoming political and getting lost in the eco-debate.
However, after sifting through the rhetoric, being green is about conserving resources and saving you money; and it doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune either (like retro-fitting your home with “green technology” that might take years to break even on your investment). Being green is easy. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC.gov) provides a guide on conserving energy and saving money in your home entitled, “Saving Starts @ Home: The Inside Story on Conserving Energy”. The publication breaks down green activities to specific areas of the home.
The guide offers many money saving tips, including these for your appliances: if possible- move your refrigerator away from the stove, dishwasher and vents; check that refrigerator seals are tight; run the dishwasher when it is full (don’t overload); use pots that fit the burners of your stove and use lids on pots to allow for a lower cooking temperature; lower hot water heater thermostats to 120 degrees rather than the pre-set 140 degrees; clean lint from clothes dryer each load to make your dryer run more efficiently.
Lighting is another area where you can conserve energy. The guide points out that there is a wide variety of lighting which should be compared for your specific needs. Comparing lighting should be easy as bulb packaging is required to have information such as light output (how much light the bulb produces, measured in lumens.); energy usage (the total electrical power a bulb uses measured in watts.); voltage, if the bulb is not 120 volts; average life in hours (how long the bulb will last); and the number of bulbs in the package (if more than one).
Certainly, buying a new high efficiency HVAC system might show your ecological awareness; however the guide suggests that you can increase your existing HVAC system’s efficiency through regular maintenance by a licensed professional. Increased HVAC efficiency can be achieved by having a licensed professional seal leaky ducts and ensuring that airflow is distributed appropriately. Also, remember to replace filters as recommended. Additional ways to make your furnace more efficient include: checking caulking and weather-stripping in your home and repair if necessary; installing a programmable thermostat to control air temperature while you’re away from home; consider installing ceiling fans and/or a whole house fan to assist with air circulation; sealing holes around plumbing and heating pipes; and consider installing window coverings.
The guide cautions you about advertisements of energy saving products and services. Some ads are for gimmicks that don’t deliver what’s promised. Take your time to carefully assess claims; and don’t be pressured into making a decision from contractors or door to door salespeople. The guide states, “If you sign a contract in your home or somewhere other than a company’s permanent place of business, the FTC’s ‘Cooling-Off Rule’ gives you three business days to cancel.”
Ultimately, creating green habits can be easy and should not cost you much; green habits not only save resources, but can save you money too.
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of September 19, 2011. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2011 Dan Krell.