Summer Is Here And So Is The Heat! How Efficient Is Your Home?
How efficient is your home?
Today is officially the first day of summer! As if you didn't already know that from the heat index. In California, the Coachella Valley is hitting highs of 120 this week which is enough to make you feel like your stepping into an oven when you leave the confines of an air conditioned building. With growing concerns of going green, how do you ensure you keep all that AC in and all that terrible heat out and are all of those "eco-friendly" products you can install in your house really that eco-friendly?
We have all heard the term "eco-friendly. It's the new "fat-free" or "diet" hot word for socially conscious consumers. Everyone wants to feel they are doing more to help the environment and institute changes in their lifestyle that can lead to a cleaner and better world. Unfortunately, a lot of these "eco-friendly" products aren't that eco friendly, just as something that is "fat-free" doesn't necessarily help you lose weight. When considering an eco-friendly product for your home, you need to take into consideration it's lifespan, cost, what it actually saves you and how it affects the lifespan of everything it comes in contact with. Here are some examples of some eco-friendly products that aren't that efficient.
Solar-Powered Attic Fans
Cooling your attic can help reduce the load on your HVAC system, and powering a fan with solar energy is free. Seems like a legit eco-friendly solution right? well, according to this study HERE from the Florida Solar Energy Center, you really need 3 fans to adequately cool your attic to make a difference on your HVAC. These fans typically cost $400 each and typically only save you $40 annually off your energy bills. That means it would take you 30 years to break even on the initial cost and that's if you install them yourself! How many times will those fans break over the course of 30 years which will lead to more waste and more spending to replace? Plus, do you really want the cooler attic to be more inviting to rats and mice?
Recycled Rubber Mulch
You know those old tires that are terrible for landfills? They are finding a lot of ways to keep them out of those landfills by turning them into mulch for you garden. However, rubber mulch isn't actually as effective as woodchips at weed prevention. It's also made from petrochemicals, which when they break down can present a risk to your soil and ground water.
Replacing Incandescent Bulbs With CFL's
Incandescent bulbs are very inefficient and CLF's are about 75% more efficient. However, they don't perform well in the humidity of bathrooms or in enclosed fixtures. They also contain mercury! Instead, spend the extra money on LED's. Yes, they cost more. However, they are more efficient than CFL's and typically last 5 times as long.
So... What Are Some Ways To Be Efficiently Green?
Install A Greywater Recovery System
What exactly is greywater? Well, its all that water that you use in bathroom sinks, tubs, showers and from the laundry. It can also be rainwater collected. There's also dark-greywater which includes water from kitchen sinks and dishwashers. These sources could contain grease, food waste, bacteria and even chemicals from household cleaners. A greywater recovery system stores all of these water sources, filters them, and pumps them back into circulation for non drinking use. (Basically to flush your toilets, water your grass and pump out of your hose.) It also can not be used for bathing. Installing a greywater recovery system can help reduce your water bill and really help cut your water usage which is especially good in drought effected areas. A greywater system can save about 40 gallons of water per household, per day!
Install A Metal Roof
Did you know that changing your roof color could affect your energy bills by as much as 20% and making it a metal roof makes it even more efficient! Metal roofs reflect the suns heat away from the home, leading to an energy savings of about 50 percent! They last for at least 50 years where as traditional roofs last about 20, they are fire resistant and they look great too! Metal roofs are no longer just corrugated metal sheets. You can also buy metal roofs that look like traditional roof shingles.
Throw Away That Old Fridge
We all know that friend that has that really old fridge full of beverages in his garage. Don't be that person. If you have a fridge that was built prior to 1993, chuck it. Seriously. Plugging it in out in the garage is not upcycling it. you can save anywhere from $100-$200 a year on your electricity bills by throwing out that old energy hog. Many utility companies offer rebates for them and will properly recycle them. Many local landfills also have recycling centers for large old appliances, so they do not end up in the actual landfill.
There are many ways to make your home more eco-friendly. Just remember to do your research before you buy and evaluate all of the costs both short term and long term. We all want to live green and save green, just make sure you consider how truly efficient your new products are.