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How Green Is Your House?

An eco-friendly approach to home care

(Family Features) | 3/30/2015, 2 a.m. | Updated on 3/29/2015, 10:13 p.m.
Improving your home's energy efficiency is not only good for the planet, it's good for your wallet. After all, wasted ...
Adopting an earth-first, energy saving mindset will let you make adjustments around your home so that you can feel good about your family's contributions to protect the environment. Courtesy of Family Features

— Living an eco-friendly lifestyle starts at home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, residential use accounts for more than one-fifth of the nation's total energy consumption. Adopting an earth-first, energy saving mindset will let you make adjustments around your home so that you can feel good about your family's contributions to protect the environment.

Green energy

Improving your home's energy efficiency is not only good for the planet, it's good for your wallet. After all, wasted energy is money lost in monthly utility bills. Numerous factors influence a home's energy efficiency, or lack thereof. Air leaks, outdated appliances or inefficient heating and cooling systems can all negatively impact your home's energy usage.

Structural improvements

Correcting any structural issues can go a long way toward making your home more efficient. Give your home a thorough inspection to identify and repair leaks and cracks around windows, doors and duct work. Remember that poorly sealed attics and basements are also common culprits of energy loss.

Appliances and major systems

Upgrading your appliances and temperature control systems also helps drive more efficient energy use throughout the house. Look for ENERGY STAR-certified products, which are designed to save energy without sacrificing on performance. Where possible, make purchases that will perform double duty, such as high-efficiency washing machines that can save on both energy and water usage.

Fuel sources

Choosing the right energy source can also help lessen your impact on the environment. For example, using propane-powered appliances in your home can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to a recent study sponsored by the Propane Education & Research Council, propane-powered furnaces emit 73 percent fewer greenhouse gases than electricity. Similarly, propane-powered storage water heaters emit approximately 39 percent less greenhouse gas than electric storage models.

For more information about using propane and propane-powered appliances in your home, visit www.propane.com.

Green upgrades

Shopping smart to incorporate high-efficiency appliances and electronics into your home is just a first step. There are many other ways you can make such products even more sustainable:

  • Rely on LED light bulbs, which use a fraction of the energy and last significantly longer than traditional bulbs.
  • Use light timers to turn off lights when they aren't needed.
  • Make a habit of powering off lights and other electronics when you leave the room.
  • Set a programmable thermostat to adjust temperatures when you're away from home.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry, and use cold water when possible.
  • Air-dry dishes, rather than using the heated drying cycle of the dishwasher.

Buying Green

Understanding just what makes a product green can be confusing. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, greener products are those that are shown to have less health or environmental impacts than similar products that have the same function.

The EPA has made it easy to identify earth-friendly cleaning supplies by introducing a Design for the Environment label that designates products deemed safer for personal health and the environment.

Other categories of green products may be harder to identify. You can rely on EPA labeling programs such as ENERGY STAR for household items such as windows, doors and many major appliances, and WaterSense for water-specific products such as toilets, faucets and showerheads.