Green Remodeling – Part II

Steps to take to make your home greener with Energy Efficiency.

Step 1: Reduce demand for heating and cooling

  • Sealing air leaks with caulk, expanding foam, or weatherstripping
  • Upgrading insulation – note that if your insulation is not installed correctly you will not be getting the performance you think; you may lose up to half of the product’s stated R-value for improper installation.
  • Replacing Windows

Step 2: Use efficient mechanical systems

  • Less is more: Oversized heating and cooling equipment is much less efficient than “rightsized” systems because it will cycle on and off too quickly which loses efficiency, causes more wear and tear on the equipment, leading to more servicing and shorter life span.
  • Kicking the fossil fuel habit: Think electric.  There are lots of ways to make it, some dirty, but in the coming decades more and more electricity will be from clean, renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, small-scale hydroelectric, wave energy, and methane recapture from landfills or from biomass.  As these technologies scale up, the price will come down.
  • Geothermal heat pumps work just fine in colder climates like ours!

Step 3: Reduce electrical demand

  • Upgrading appliances: example, if you own a refrigerator more than 15 years old, it is gobbling up a hideous amount of electric current every day.  New Energy Star rated refrigerators use a fraction as much electricity… so much less that the savings will be enough to pay for a new, energy-efficient refrigerator in as little as three years!
  • Phantom loads: many appliances use power even when turned off.  A simple solution is a switchable power strip to cut the power to those power vampires.  Or if you have an outlet wired to a switch, you can use that outlet for your TV, stereo, etc. and power is cut just as you would switch off the light.
  • Change your light bulbs to long-lasting CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs).

Step 4: Capture waste heat

Step 5: Harvest free energy with solar panels & small wind turbines.

From “Practical Green Remodeling, Down-to-Earth Solutions for Everyday Homes” by Barry Katz, 2010 Taunton Press