5 Environmentally-Friendly Home Construction Tips

By George Lee / July 17, 2016
energy efficient home

Have a Home Energy Audit

A home energy audit is an excellent way to pinpoint any energy leaks inside your home. You can do it yourself or hire a professional. Look for air leaks around doors and windows, inadequate insulation, and check the energy efficiency of your major appliances. If you have the budget, opt for a professional energy audit. The home inspector will have specialized equipment to achieve a more thorough assessment of your home’s energy weak spots. This includes thermal imagery and exact airflow measuring devices. These exact tools will reveal exactly how much your energy leaks are costing you in monthly heating and cooling bills.

Stop Air Leaks

woman closing doorAir leaks around your home’s doors and windows are a major source of wasted energy. According the US department of Energy, 20 percent of your home’s heating and cooling energy is wasted through air leakage. For older homes with cracked windows and damaged caulking, air leakage can cost even higher. Interior air leaking is another issue that is often overlooked. Air leaking from cold to warm areas or vice versa inside your home will waste previous energy. Make sure to inspect caulking around interior doors, properly seal all ductwork and fill gaps around switches and electrical outlets. Install draft catchers under doors for added protection.

Upgrade to Energy Efficient Windows

One of the best ways to reduce wasted energy is upgrading to newer energy efficient windows. These windows incorporate special features to help separate the cold or war air inside your home from the outside air. In multipane windows, two or more panes of glass are separated by an insulating gas such as argon. This improves the window’s U-factor and prevents heat from escaping to the outside. Another method commonly used is glass tinting. Tinted windows reduce glare and lower the window’s Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC). A lower SHGC indicates higher resistance to the effect of sunlight on raising your home’s indoor temperature.

tankless water heaterInstall a Tankless Water Heater

Replacing your regular hot water heater with a tankless water heater will reduce your energy bills significantly. Tankless water heaters only heat water only as needed. They can cost 3-5 times more than conventional water heaters and require costly upgrades to your home’s plumbing and electrical systems. However if you can afford it, a tankless water heater is a wise investment.

Use Reflective Insulation

Reflective insulation helps reduce the heating effect of the sun’s solar radiation inside your home. It works by bouncing the sun’s heat away from your home. This reduces the cooling costs during the hot summer months. Reflective insulation is usually thinner than regular insulation. It is composed of a reflective metal surface such as aluminum attached to a wooden backing. By combining reflective insulation with regular insulation, you can enjoy year round protection for your home.

 

5 Immediate Ways You Can Protect the Environment

earth from space

Goal # 1: Use Your Car Less

man driving carWalking, biking or using public transportation instead of driving your car is a great way to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions. Statistics how that more Americans are opting for healthier alternatives to get around. Using your car less saves money and promotes a healthier lifestyle. It also helps protect the planet since biking can cut down 90 percent of greenhouse gases generated by cars. If you need to use your car, try reducing drive time by parking further away from stores when shopping and walking from one store to another instead.

Using public transportation such as trains and buses is another great alternative. Studies show that using public transportation for a twenty mile round trip cuts annual carbon dioxide emissions by 4,800 ponds. Carpooling to and from work, working from home, combining different errands in the same car trip instead of multiple trips, and online shopping instead of regular shopping are other great ways to protect the environment.

Goal # 2: Minimize Food Waste

household food wasteA staggering 40 percent of the food we consume is thrown out. This food waste would be enough to feed more than one billion hungry people on the planet. Most food waste ends up in landfills and generates harmful greenhouse gases such as methane. To reduce food waste, plan each week’s meals in advance, write down the necessary ingredients, then go for grocery shopping with that list and stick to it. Take notice of what food items are frequently thrown in the garbage, and then adjust your shopping habits accordingly to minimize wasted food. Most thrown out food items are expired products, so use an app or routinely inspect your fridge. If you have excessive food that you will not use, consider donating to your local food bank. Schedule one day a week to just eat leftovers. Compost organic food waste or join a local composting program.

Goal # 3: Cut Back on Food Packaging

various food packagingFood packaging is a major component of packaging waste in the US. It amounts for almost 2/3 rd of the total waste. Many food companies are aiming to reduce or eliminate their packaging to help protect the environment. You can help too by avoiding using disposable items such as plastic cups, plastic utensils, and disposable aluminum trays. Try purchasing packaged foods in bulk as opposed to smaller bags that consume more packaging. Pick loose unpackaged items when shopping. Buy foods with recyclable packaging, and reuse plastic or glass containers.

Goal # 4: Eat from Local Suppliers

woman planting herb gardenSince most food consumed in the US currently travels approx. 1,500 miles to reach consumers, buying locally grown produce will drastically cut emissions from food shipping. Start by growing your produce in your own backyard or creating a windows ill herb garden. Utilize your local farmer’s market as much as you can. Dine at restaurants that use local food suppliers. Join a community garden program where every participant works to grow fresh produce. Make your own jams and freeze for later use. Eat only vegetables and fruits that are in season.

Goal # 5: Become Environmentally Conscious

empty plastic bottlesYou can significantly reduce your carbon footprint by making environmentally conscious lifestyle choices. Avoid using plastic bags at the supermarket and opt for reusable bags instead. Avoid chemical cleaners at home and make your own eco-friendly cleaning solutions. Many chemicals used in personal care products such as perfumes, makeup, and lotions are harmful. Keep in mind that most components in these beauty products are not regulated by the FDA. Opt for used furniture or toys instead of buying new. Invest in a water bottle to eliminate the millions of empty plastic bottles ending in landfills each year. Invest in modern energy efficient appliances with the Energy Star label and choose recycled paper products.

Final Thoughts
The small decisions you make in everyday life will add up a real positive impact on the environment. Remember to start with yourself then encourage friends and neighbors to do the same. Every effort counts and the changes you make today will affect the future of our planet, so why not start now?

How to Prevent Air Pollution from Your Own Backyard

lawn mower in yardYard and power equipment that utilize small gasoline engines are a major source of air pollution and harmful gases. This includes lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf vacuums and snow blowers. Excessive use and improper maintenance of these power tolls produces carbon monoxide and other harmful hydrocarbons. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas yet extremely dangerous. Hydrocarbons form ground level ozone which is a toxic pollutant that contributes to smog, lung disease and hinders plant growth.

You can make a big difference and prevent air pollution by following these best practices when caring for your yard:

Store gasoline securely. Gasoline spills from containers cause air pollution when they evaporate. Carelessly handling of fuel at gasoline pumps is another major factor. Use caution to prevent spills and never overfill the gasoline container. Pour gasoline slowly in the container using a funnel. Close the cap tightly after use. Store gasoline in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight.

Proper equipment maintenance. Maintain your equipment by changing oil and filters regularly. Us teh manufacturer’s recommended fuel/oil mixture. Get periodic inspections and keep the mower blades sharpened periodically.

woman with leaf blowerReduce mowing frequency. Use slower growing turf grasses to reduce mowing frequency. Opt for native plants and wildflowers or pavers to replace grass whenever possible. Shop your local lawn and garden center for the most appropriate plants in your region. If you have a large backyard and have a lot of green waste, consider renting a local dumpster. Click here for more yard waste disposal tips.

Switch to manual tools. Whenever possible, try using manual tools to replace engine powered equipment. Small tools are ideal for small yard jobs. Items such as push mowers emit no pollution and help clean the air. Shop your local hardware store for a variety of yard gadgets.

Use cleaner lawn equipment. Newer gasoline equipment is now available that greatly reduces harmful emissions. Some equipment is now even completely solar powered. Opt for electrical tools whenever possible. They produce zero emissions and eliminate fuel evaporation. Many power equipment manufacturers and The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working together to provide cleaner small engine equipment.

Recycle old mowers. Worn out engines in small yard tools are major sources of air pollution. Recycle them at your local recycling center where they can be used to create raw materials for newer, cleaner equipment.

It’s amazing how much you can contribute to maintaining the environment by following these simple tips.

How To Protect The Environment With Waste Management Control

You can do your part to enhance waste management efforts right at home. Start by reducing and reusing as much solid waste as you can.

What is Waste Management?

Waste management is all the processes involved in the prevention, transportation, treatment and recycling of solid waste. This includes municipal residential & commercial waste, as well as waste generated from agricultural activities, medical & hazardous waste.

Over the past few years, The U.S. produced approx. 220 million tons of annual waste. This exceeded any other nation on earth.

What are the Types of Waste Disposal?

Waste management methods generally gall into 8 major groups. These groups include recycling, fermentation, composting, incineration, landfills, reduction & reuse and animal feeding.

You can do your part to enhance waste management efforts right at home. Start by reducing and reusing as much solid waste as you can. Set up a composting bin to compost solid waste. Use recyclable shopping bags and water containers.
Here are some quick facts about waste management methods.


Some Popular Waste Disposal Methods

Landfill waste disposal

landfillLandfills use large dump sites to bury the solid waste underground. They are still the most popular waste disposal method used. However, lack of space and other environmental considerations such as the methane generated underground, landfills are declining in popularity. Many municipalities are now considering other less harmful waste disposal methods.

Prior to burying the solid waste in a landfill, the waste is treated to eliminate odors and other hazards.

Incineration waste disposal

Incineration involves thermally treating the solid waste by combusting it through incinerators. This method reduces the volume of waste to 20% of the original volume, and thus decreases the enormous load on landfills. The incineration process converts solid waste into residue, ash and gas. This method is very popular in countries where there is a short supply of land for landfills such as Japan.

Recycling

Recycling involves extracting useful materials from the discarded waste. These materials are then used to produce new products. This reduces energy consumption, demand on landfills and decreases air and water pollution. It also helps the environment by reducing the need for new raw materials.

Composting

Composting is a natural process whereby yard, garden, food scraps and other organic waste are stored in a controlled humid environment. This causes microbial decomposition of the organic waste to a useful sludge used as a plant fertilizer. Since composting usually takes several months, it is a slow process. However it is a safe and natural way to transform unused organic waste to useful compost, thus enriching the environment.

Waste to Energy (WtE)

Waste to energy is the process of extracting heat and electrical energy from non-recyclable waste matter.  This helps reduce the carbon footprint and decreases the demand on fossil fuels.

 

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