- open shades when sun is shining in and close them at night
- lower thermostat
- weatherstrip any doors or windows that leak
- clean and maintain heating equipment
- check insulation in attics, basements and walls.
Everyone is searching for ways to save money these days. There was a recent conference in Little Rock, AR where Arkansas homeowners where given the opportunity to check out just what it takes to convert to a solar-powered home that uses only about half the electricity of a typical house. Watching their responses is enlightening and encouraging to those that want to break Americas dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil.
Option 1: Do-it-yourself improvements:
There is a common misconception that converting a home to wind or solar power is too expensive and makes a home look ugly. The truth is that there are plenty of do-it-yourself packages that cost less than $200.00 to get started. It will be a bit of work, but if you are serious about going green and don’t want to spend several thousand dollars there are lots of options.
Here are some reasons to get started:
Once you have assembled and installed your own alternative power supply you can save hundreds off your electricity bill each month or even eliminate your electric bill completely. If your new system creates more energy than you use yourself, your local power company will actually purchase the extra power from you!
Helping The Environment -
Most electricity generated in the United States actually comes from burning coal. By converting to solar or wind power you no longer are utilizing fossil fuels - no carbon footprint! You can start getting your home running on free, renewable green energy in very short order. The solar panels or wind generators might be considered ugly by some, but those people aren’t paying your electic bills! With a little extra effort, a homes look could even be improved with a more modern appearance.
Home solar power units can power up just about any appliance including lights, television and computers. The good news is that they can be created using parts found at almost any hardware store, and can be taken with you if you move or if you just want to rent a cabin in out in the woods for the weekend!
Having the ability to generate your own solar or wind energy can allow you to go fully off local grid. If a natural disaster strikes, such as a hurricane or earthquake that disrupts power to your local area you can still have power.
Home Equity -
One of the key questions a buyer asks when purchasing a house is always “what do the utility bills run each month. Reducing utility bills homes are more affordable.
How to get started:
There are several do-it-yourself manuals on the market including This One that gives easy to read instructions and can have a homeowner up and generating power in a matter of just a few hours.
The U.S. currently only gets one percent of its electricity from wind power. With some effort it could be up to 20 percent by 2030.
Option 2: Simple ways to cut back on energy consumption:
1) Check and clean the air conditioner’s filter once a month, you will also breath a little better.
2) Turn off the drying cycle in your dishwasher, especially if you are not unloading the dish washer right away, anyways.
3) Install photoelectric light switches. These can turn off lights when the natural light level is sufficient.
4) Use the microwave oven instead of your regular oven.
5) Turn your fridge thermostat down to 37 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s plenty cold for most foods.
6) Lower your water heater setting to 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s plenty warm for most people.
7) Insulate! Even if you already have some insulation you may be able to save a lot of energy by upgrading or adding on.
Almost daily, you hear news reports about the increasing numbers of homes in foreclosure. What you don’t hear reported is how increasing energy costs are so often the cause of this devastating problem.
Are you losing your home because you can’t afford to pay your energy bills and your mortgage? If you aren’t facing foreclosure can you afford temperature settings that keep you feeling comfortable inside your home?
During the recent U.S. housing boom, builders completed homes quickly. Interest rates were low and investors eager to cash in on high returns on investments. Unless you were knowledgeable about energy-efficient home features and made sure they were included during construction, chances are your new home wastes a lot of energy. It’s also likely you don’t feel comfortable in your home due to uneven room temperatures, drafts, cold floors, etc.
There was a time when home air conditioning was a luxury. Now it seems more like a necessity. Average temperatures in North America have risen over the last 20 years, remaining high for longer periods and forcing people to turn on air conditioners powered by electricity to survive excessive exposure to heat.
Rate caps that once held down electricity costs are ending countrywide. Maryland residents recently experienced the shock of a 70% electric rate increase. Pennsylvania residents will receive the first of several rate increases starting in 2008.
The mortgage industry facing huge losses from foreclosures is working with homeowners to reduce monthly mortgage costs. A reduction in mortgage costs may help, but this is only a temporary solution. Moving to another home, unless it is energy efficient will not solve the problem.
The best solution is to implement energy saving features in your home as quickly as possible. This will not only be good for you financially, it will also be good for the planet.
©Siti Crook, 2007