With all the yelling and screaming going on today about Green Building, you may wonder what you can do if you already have your home constructed. First, be wary of late-night TV ads that promise to save you thousands of dollars on electric bills or save more fuel oil than you can use in a whole year. Too good to be true? More than likely. There is no magic insulation or magic electric device that goes in front of the panel to save you money. These are just as you thought. Rip-offs. Everyone can go greener a little at a time without spending a bundle. Have tons of cash? OK, go for the solar arrays or thermal pumps or maybe even a windmill. In most of our homes, cash is not just laying around on the floors.
Start with a good inspection of your house. Are windows all nice and tight? No broken glass? No missing hardware? No missing caulking? All of these can keep your windows tightly closed and sealed thereby saving lots of heating oil. Turn down the thermostat to 70 during the day and 60 at night. An auto set back thermostat is only about $25 and may save hundreds of gallons of fuel by controlling a steady temperature in the home.
Recycling is not mandatory everywhere but it should be. It is very easy to separate cans and glass and place them in a separate bag. We take a full 55-gallon bag to the center each week. That’s 55 gallons of waste that did not go into a landfill. Aluminum foil, newspapers and magazines, mail advertisements, and milk jugs are all recycle items and save lots of space in our landfills as well. Try it for 3 weeks and see what you recycle. You will be amazed. If your state charges a deposit on cans and bottles, take them back for the deposit. A nickel can add up fast! You are throwing cash in the garbage.
We have a nice garden and have taught the kids to take eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds, green leafy vegetables, and the like and place it in a compost pile in the rear yard. By turning over the soil every so often, we not only have a great supply of earthworms for the kids to go fishing but are constantly making new soil for the garden. Cost? Zero dollars.
One more thing you should be doing is slowly changing over to fluorescent bulbs. I don’t say rush out and buy all new bulbs like the bulb ads would like you to do. That’s a waste of a usable bulb (and expensive) as well. As your incandescent bulbs burn out, replace them one at a time with a new fluorescent lamp. You will not notice the difference in lighting but will notice a reduction in your electric bill. Since fluorescents last a great deal longer than incandescent bulbs, you will not replace them as often. That’s yet another green benefit to your wallet.
As you can see “Green Building” is not limited to a newly constructed building but can make an existing house a “Green Building” as well.