Guest post by Jared Diamond
The philosophy behind green energy is very basic: leave as small a carbon footprint behind as possible. Green energy strategies are not just the use of alternative sources, but also practical use of what is already there. It will be some time before fossil fuel is totally replaced and carbon emissions will still occur. At the same time, it is doubtful that the cost of using fossil fuel is going to go down in the years ahead. A cost-conscious homeowner is willing to look at means of using as little fossil fuel based energy in the home as possible, if for no other reason than to maintain a sensible family budget.
Homeowners may cringe at the thought of installing green energy heat pumps and worry about the renovation costs. Actually, it really isn’t necessary to tear down the entire house and rebuild it. Making a house more green can be a little bit simpler than that. One idea is to install solar panels an existing power source with solar energy. This will allow homeowners to turn down the thermostat and allow solar energy to assume some of the burden of inner heat. Proper insulation of unused space such as the attic, garage, and basement easily permits the homeowner to use less energy for heat. If any remodeling work is being
rescheduled for a house, positioning the windows to take better advantage of the sun’s rays can cut down energy being used for both heat and light. Newer models of windows, by the way, are being designed to reduce the instance of drafts, a common problem with older windows.
Geothermal heat pumps are excellent ways to conserve energy, but if such equipment is still a bit out of a person’s budget range, proper maintenance of the existing heating system can also cut down on energy waste. Periodic cleaning of ducts and vents means less energy is expended forcing heated air through them. A quick survey of a house can also determine which areas are in greater use than the others. Rooms that are not occupied don’t need to have the same amount of heat or air conditioning as other parts of the house, and the thermostats in those areas can safely be turned down. Summers can be just as pleasant with lower use of air-conditioning. Ceiling fans can make a room every bit as comfortable with less energy being consumed.
It is now well understood that energy conservation is in the public interest and that government at all levels have programs to encourage use of greener energy. These can include rebates and tax credits for various purchases and modifications of the residence. The Energy Star program awards a label to those appliances proven to be energy efficient. Shopping for refrigerators or washing machines that have the Energy Star label will result in household machines that will use considerably less energy than other models.
The Greening of a house can be a very gradual step-by-step activity. A homeowner can actually develop a room-by-room or floor-by-floor renovation strategy, resulting in a house that is
less dependent on carbon-based fuel.
One of the biggest incentives for doing all this is those utility bills, which slowly but surely decrease and become quite manageable as the home energy sources turn green. Perhaps a person’s lifestyle might change a little bit in a green effective home, but that really isn’t all that bad. A better understanding and sensitivity to the environment is a healthy thing. Green energy houses are not necessarily a statement of some kind of radical politics. Rather, green homes positively affect the financial statement of the owner’s checking and savings account. There is nothing revolutionary about saving money with green energy alternatives; it’s just practical sense that creates a lot more spendable dollars.
Jared Diamond is a contributor with Home Star Search, an online informational resource on rent to own housing. Jared writes on topics ranging from energy efficiency to personal finance.