Adopting an Eco-Friendly Mindset Goes a Long Way
Kermit the Frog once famously lamented through song that it’s not easy being green. In the end, however, he decided that it was exactly what he wanted to be, because “[being green] can be important, like a mountain.” And he’s exactly right. Being green is important, particularly in terms of working toward sustaining the earth. This St. Patrick’s Day, celebrate with your Irish friends and family by going green at home! The best part is, being green at home is actually pretty easy. Follow these simple tips on incorporating more eco-friendly products and practices.
1. Switch to Eco-Friendly Household Cleaners
Reading product labels can be alarming when you struggle to pronounce any of the listed ingredients. What should cause even more unease is that many brands purposefully make it difficult, and in some cases, impossible to find out the ingredients in their products. In 2012, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) launched a campaign to uncover harmful ingredients found in cleaning products. After analyzing thousands of cleaning products, they determined that “three-fourths contain ingredients which may have worrisome respiratory health effects.” Further, “almost 60 percent of products scored moderate to high concern because one or more ingredients pose a risk to the environment.”
Check out these resources for tips on green cleaning:
- Huffington Post’s “EWG’s List of Most Harmful Cleaning Products for Your Home”
- The Good Trade’s “12 Natural & Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products for the Conscious Home”
- EWG’s “Top Green Cleaning Products”
2. Upgrade Your Home’s Insulation
If you live in a home that was built prior to 1980, it’s likely that you don’t have adequate insulation. You can determine your home’s insulation levels by scheduling a whole-home energy assessment. During an inspection, your auditor will identify vulnerable areas of your home in need of insulation.
By upgrading your insulation, not only will you experience better comfort levels, you will also save between 10 and 50 percent on heating and cooling costs. You can expect to see your ROI in as little as two years.
If upgrading your insulation isn’t an option at the moment, follow these DIY tips for sealing air leaks:
- Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows.
- Caulk and seal air leaks in these areas: plumbing, ductwork, electrical wiring coming out of walls, ceilings and floors.
- Adjust or replace the thresholds on your doors if there are gaps.
- Apply foam sealant on larger gaps around windows and baseboards.
3. Purchase ENERGY STAR Products
In what area of your home are you lacking the most in terms of efficiency? ENERGY STAR offers hundreds of products, from water heaters, clothes washers and central air conditioners to lightbulbs, computers and televisions. Depending on your budget, you may want to start small by either upgrading your light bulbs or television.
ENERGY STAR offers 5 reasons to switch to their products:
- Qualified refrigerators are at least 15 percent more efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard.
- Qualified TVs consume three watts or less when switched off, compared to a standard TV, which consumes almost 6 watts on average.
- Office equipment that qualifies automatically enters a low-power “sleep” mode after a period of inactivity.
- Qualified light bulbs (CFLs) use two-thirds less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and must meet additional operating and reliability guidelines.
- Qualified furnaces offer a rating of 90 percent AFUE or greater, which is about 15 percent more efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard.
4. Schedule Your Spring Air Conditioning Tune-Up
Spring is less than two weeks away, which means you can expect warm weather from here on out. Make sure your air conditioner is up for the task by scheduling your annual tune-up. With the temperatures continuing to rise, you don’t want to be without cool air.
3 reasons you should schedule routine A/C maintenance:
- Improve Indoor Air Quality: When you forgo maintenance, your air filter will experience a buildup of dirt, which causes poor ventilation. During your tune-up, a technician will ensure that your system is properly ventilated, and they’ll also replace the air filter. You should inspect your air filter every 30 days to see if it needs changing. If it’s dirty, go ahead and change it.
- Lower Energy Costs: A buildup of dirt and debris not only harms your IAQ, it causes your system to kick into over-drive to keep up with your demands, which ups your monthly heating and cooling bill. A routine tune-up will allow your technician to inspect and clean the ins and outs of your system to ensure that it’s operating at optimal efficiency. All the money you save on your monthly heating and cooling costs can be put towards additional energy-efficient products!
- Reduce Frequency of Repairs: Like anything else you own, if you don’t treat it with care, it’s going to prematurely breakdown or stop working altogether. By scheduling routine maintenance on your air conditioner, you can rest easy knowing you’ll be cool and comfortable this spring and summer. The money you’ll save on frequent repairs can also be put towards upgrading other appliances in your home, like your clothes washer, water heater or refrigerator.
Check out these other resources on being eco-friendly at home:
- Greatist’s “41 Eco-Friendly Tips to Save Cash”
- Real Simple’s “10 Painless Changes You Can Make for a Green Home”
- Good House Keeping’s “Best Go Green Tips”
For information or assistance with HVAC efficiency, give Interstate Heating & Air Conditioning a call at 405-794-8900.
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