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Going Green for Your Home

St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner and venues across the US are going green. Here at Mainstream, we’re recommending you do the same, but we’re not talking about color. Going green when it comes to the energy that your home uses is a far more involved process with better long-term rewards than even the best St. Patrick’s Day party. Of course, we’re not asking you to leave the lights off all the time, we’re just asking that you consider a few energy-conscious alternatives. They’ll keep your home’s electrical equipment healthy as well.

Effective but Expensive

With so many ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home, some of them are bound to be expensive. Unfortunately, the expensive methods are often the most effective. Upgrading your existing appliances with newer, energy-efficient equipment is the quickest way to save energy. Even older energy-efficient HVAC and Furnace units wear out and begin to drain more energy for less effect. Any major appliance you own that hasn’t been replaced in the last 10-15 years (or that breaks down regularly) should likely be replaced. Especially if you have a furnace with an AFUE rating of less than 90 (this rating is a measurement of how effective the unit is at generating heat).

Solar Power, the Greenest Power

Solar power is the most unique method of generating electricity on the market. Everything from coal to hydroelectric power requires the spinning of a turbine to generate electricity. Even powerful energy systems such as nuclear are simply advanced ways to boil enough water to force a turbine to spin. Solar power converts photons (light) from the sun into electrical energy. There are no moving parts which need lubrication and no fuel sources (unless you count the hydrogen burned by the sun).

Installing solar panels on your roof is a great way to cut costs and lessen the need for more expensive central power plants.

Simple and Effective

Quick, easy solutions for saving money are what we all want at the end of the day. So simple fixes to energy efficiency losses are the first stop when it comes to keeping money in your wallet each month. The short form is, clean your home, prevent leaks, and turn off lights and devices when they aren’t being used. To explain:

Cleaning – Dust, dirt, and debris are a problem for your home. Most of the energy spent in the home comes from heating and cooling. Either heating water for your indoor plumbing, or controlling the general climate inside your home. Dust traps heat and clogs airways. When too much is present it becomes harder to cool your home and makes it more difficult for electronics to operate without substantial heat output. As an added point, vacuum the refrigeration coils on the back of your refrigerator once a year to cut down on power losses from the fridge.

Heating and Cooling Leaks – A lot of energy that’s spent on heating and cooling is lost to leaks both inside and out of the home. A pressure check of your ventilation system will detect leaks into the crawl spaces of your home (this will require a professional) but you should also perform a check for drafts, gaps, and leaks that lead to the outside. You want to control how heat is transferred outside of your home, and allowing warm air inside during the summer (or the reverse during the winter) is just going to force your central air system to work harder, draining your resources.

Turn off Lights and Devices – No they don’t use much energy on their own, but every little bit helps and shutting off devices you don’t use will help to reduce overall energy costs throughout the week. This is especially true if you’re going away for a while. If you’ll be gone for multiple days, consider emptying the fridge and turning it off. Yes it will take time to cool back down when you return, but you’ll be saving on the cost of refrigeration for the duration of your absence.

Landscaping and Shade – Block your home from gathering so much solar heating during the hottest portion of the day. Thermal curtains on windows, solar screens, and shade trees will all block your home from the sun’s view during the hottest portions of the day. During the winter, using heavy curtains to trap heat inside the home during the day will help you regulate energy, meaning less fuel and electricity use for temperature regulation throughout the year.

So why not plan to go green this year? Let’s just make it last all year and through the next instead of for just one weekend. You’ll save money on monthly utilities and promote a cleaner world. Who doesn’t want that?