DIY at Home Tips for a More Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Home

by Brennan
2 Materials
3 Days
The first thing to do when assessing your needs for a green home is to realistically look at your situation. If you’ve lived in your apartment in Denver, Colorado for a number of years and have not recently done any updates as the city has grown exponentially, you may be facing a big project, but one that could add tremendous value to your property. Likewise, if your parents have downsized and you moved into your childhood home, you may find a retro and inefficient home. Let’s assume the worst, and we’ll list some areas of immediate concern.
Older cities like Hibbing, MN have many old gas furnaces that shoot 60 to 80 percent of their energy up through the chimney. Natural gas was cheap a long time ago, and no one really cared. Those old furnaces also were equipped with a pilot light and instructions to leave the pilot light burning continuously to “keep the heat exchanger from rusting.” Since faulty heat exchangers can let deadly carbon monoxide gas into the home, the thought was good, but burning a gas pilot year-round is no longer thought of as acceptable. If you have an old furnace, absolutely replace it. It’s easy to find a reasonable unit with over 80 percent efficiency; in addition, local utilities offer rebates for energy efficient unit purchases.

Next, look at the A/C. If it has a low EER, and/or is close to 10 years old, consider replacing it. We know you have heard this frequently, but new and energy efficient HVAC units can and do pay for themselves quickly, as your heating and cooling bills will be refreshingly smaller.

Sure, you can manually turn down the thermostat to save energy dollars, but with a smart thermostat you can do this automatically with presets, or manually and remotely from your phone. A smart thermostat will also track your heating and cooling preferences and anticipate your needs. Turn the A/C warmer before you leave for work and then kick it in when you get home. Your device can do all this for you so you can avoid those days when your apartment was kept at a cool 70 degrees, but you were gone for 12 hours.

Old Appliances
Did you know that the garage refrigerator you retrofitted to keep your Halloween party keg cold could be costing you over $300 per year to operate? It may be nice to have it for that extra bag of ice, but maybe you should consider icing that keg instead, and getting rid of your energy sucking Sears Kenmore woodgrain finished garage fridge.

When you put your hand across your windows, can you feel hot air in the summer, or cold air in the winter? If you have answered yes, you have a leak. There are temporary seasonal fixes like plastic coverings and foam sealants, and these can provide some relief, but do consider replacing old leaky windows with nice energy efficient ones. Again, there are rebates available from both governmental agencies and utilities.

By addressing HVAC mechanicals, smart thermostats and window performance, you will have taken a big step toward energy efficiency. Every city from Fargo MN, to Miami, FL has its own unique energy issues, but with some research and determination, you can begin to go green and, in turn, save dollars. And if you’re a young person navigating the rent vs. own debate for the first time, going green at your current place might help you save for that down payment!
Suggested materials:
  • Windows   (Home Depot)
  • Thermostat   (Amazon)
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