Going Green at Home in 3 Simple Steps

| 10/26/2016 9:40:00 AM

Photo by Fotolia/grigvovan

Red alert! If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ll know that our planet is in deep trouble. Apart from the disturbing reports on the Middle East, we are also told that Mother Earth’s treasury is depleting faster than it can replenish itself. Reversing or mitigating the situation means making drastic changes in the way we farm, eat, and live.

As different industries begin to re-evaluate their business practices based on a sustainable model, homeowners around the world are also researching and upgrading their lifestyle to a new green level. While there is more than one way to make your home greener, the principle of going green can be broken down into 3 simple steps.

Understand Your Energy Expenditure

Going green may mean different things for each person. However, according to Sustainable Baby Steps, it is all about understanding your energy consumption and making mini-changes one at a time. As the author on the Sustainable Baby Steps Blog shares, going green begins with taking a hard look at your current lifestyle.

Your job is to find creative and practical ways to minimize consumption/waste, maximize existing resources, and prioritize your spending. Homeowners can do the research on their own or hire an energy auditor to professionally evaluate the energy efficiency of the home. Experts from Angie’s List also add that an energy audit not only can identify weaknesses around the house, but also “uncover mild or severe threats to health and safety.”

6/29/2018 4:17:40 PM

We’ve been “early adaptors” for decades. We changed lightbulbs to CFL’s then LED’s, early-on, even as industry still had bugs to work out of them...they helped old house wiring cope with drastically increased electronics uses. We’ve had 2” solid foam on exterior of sides/top/front of our fridges, and put them on HD appliance timers to shut off for a few hours nitely, for many years...saving about $15/month off electric on just the fridge [and kept foods safe for a 3-day outage]. Now: converted to using [2] chest freezers instead of one upright. One runs on external thermostat as a fridge; the one used as freezer is on nitely timer to shut it off a few hrs....bonus: that prevents ice build-up, while keeping foods frozen solid. That dropped power bill by about $20/mo, compared with the old upright fridge/freezer. Once into our own house, had to replace roof; went metal on a total-coverage stick-down SharkBite underlayment...SO glad! Only thing that would have been better, is if we’d been able to afford installing about 6” foam insulation under that. Planning on large cistern for catchment, to help keep water bill down to minimum. We regularly chose less energy wasteful appliances, over the years, as well as reusing greywater for flushes and garden. Now about to install at least one composting toilet. We made solar air heaters, documenting how well those worked, for several years...worked so well, we’ll make more; larger ones for this place. At old place, we saved upwards of 300 kWh’s monthly, in worst of our winters, using [2] 4’x8’ panels with a 4” duct fan to boost recirculated air. One nice recycle has been: found used single-pane windows that matched existing old windows; firred-out around the old ones, installed recycled ones like storm windows over those. Those worked much better than the usual “dual pane” windows, with less temperature loss through them, and, zero condensate. All we did, use stacked recycled 2x4’s around windows to create a 3” air gap, cleaned up the old windows, re-caulked where frames met glass on both units, then mounted, sealing well. Windows all remain operable. Now, we’re collecting parts to super-insulate exterior walls. Alaskan rule of thumb: Add approximate [conservative estimate] R-value of old wall + the new desired-Total wall insulation R-value. Of the total R-value result, 75% of the total must be on exterior of old wall, to prevent dew-point happening inside old wall. This allows installing new, leaving old siding intact. We plan on Roxul, to prevent mold/critters/add fire resistance. Example: Old walls MIGHT be R-10. We want about R-30 added to that, for total = R40. 40 x 0.75= 30. So: R-30 goes onto exterior. The colder the climate in winter, the more goes on exterior, to prevent dew-point happening inside old wall. Technically, in our PNW climate, we could use about R-23 on outside, and still be fine with a total of R-30. We plan on metal siding over that. We also will use a borax solution to prep walls prior to installing all that [deters mold, critters, and is fire-retardant--safely enclosed]. We were seriously UN-impressed with retrofitted attic blown-in + perf’d reflecting blanket, by Smart Energy Today...what a costly mistake! And, they’ve repeatedly failed to get back to us to discuss why there’s been zero energy-savings from their installation. So, Buyers, Beware! Many companies go for the fast-buck, when new ideas spring-up. Those companies swell the ranks of energy-saving-wannabe-companies ripping-off consumers, until things settle down; a trend that routinely lasts until there’s better fine-tuning of tech and documentation for what really works. ALSO: beware of those Smart Meters. Not even talking about the emissions here...Smart Meters have allowed utility companies to jigger the out-of-pocket costs, similar to how tax assessors “adjust Mil-rates” to increase or decrease out-of-pocket costs. That means, they don’t have to get voter-approved rate increases; they simply adjust the rates [like hot air in a balloon]...that’s why user bills immediately increase by around $20 or more monthly the second those Smart Meters are installed. WOE to those seriously trying to save energy, too...they keep adjusting it up, to keep the money rolling in, despite savings. One utility Rep actually said: “People have been so good at saving energy, this utility can’t pay it’s bills [to BPA]”. [That’s the short story of it.] So, just Beware...many are out to take undue advantage, in so many creative ways!

6/29/2018 11:41:46 AM

In response to Zadok55: what do you mean by Al Gore scientists? Do you mean reputable academics who publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals, or...?

6/29/2018 8:38:10 AM

I have been reading The Mother Earth News since it's first issue, attended Show-Hows, and lived the good life (to some degree) almost all of my adult life. However, what really ticks me is how TMEN has fallen hook, line, and sinker for the globalist agenda of "Global Warming" and alarms that our planet is in "deep trouble." I have been a scientist too long to believe this garbage and the great majority of real scientists (not the Al Gore 'scientists') will tell you so. This is a liberal propaganda scheme to take more control of peoples' lives and resources, which is in direct opposition to the values and independent character of Homesteaders. So let's continue to take care of our environment, yes, but don't keep printing the lies and deceits of those who want to take complete control of every aspect of your lives.

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