As a homeowner, ‘going green’ is about working alongside nature for efficiency and comfort. Wasteful practices can be eliminated with a few tweaks, turning that house into an environmentally friendly (and cheaper) home. Simply reducing how much your AC needs to work can dramatically reduce cooling costs in the long run. Here are some great ideas you can start using right now, or investment opportunities you can invest in to bring additional value in the longer term.
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Close the Drapes
Make a habit of shutting blinds and drapes when you leave a room and it will prevent your home from acting like a greenhouse, reduce the heat that enters your home, and help your air conditioning unit cool the house with ease.
Optimize the AC
For efficiency and increased lifespan, replace filters and remove debris from the area around your air conditioning unit. If possible, place your unit in the shade. (Think about it – cooling air directly in the sunlight makes it work that much harder to achieve that desired temperature.)
Still hot? Use a Spray Bottle
Your body cools itself by evaporating water from the surface of the skin. If you want to mimic nature’s tried and true method of cooling without the sweat, mist yourself with a spray bottle for the same effect.
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Trees not only protect your house from the sun, but can help insulate it. Try planting deciduous (leaved) trees on the east and west of the house to shade your home in the summer. (As an added bonus, the leaves will fall off in the winter, exposing you to the warmth of the sun.) Coniferous (needled) trees to the north and the south will decrease wind exposure and heating costs. You can purchase saplings from a nursery and plant them yourself with a few easy steps.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Picking up one of these will cost as little as $30 on Amazon.com, and will let you have multiple settings so you can adjust the temperature to fit your work and sleep schedule. Check out Energy Star for more details.
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Insulate your attic and walls
Regulating the temperature of your home can be inefficient if there is an open exchange of energy between your home and the outside world. Investing in quality insulation and making sure your home is sealed properly can greatly reduce this exchange and ensure your heating and cooling system is working properly. Not sure what you can do? Here’s a guide to analyzing your home and doing it yourself.
Geothermal heat pumps
Relying on the steady temperature of the earth, geothermal heat pumps use water to regulate temperature in your home. Prices vary widely based on your location and the necessary depth of installation, but you can expect to spend over $10,000. Why do it? Depending on the size of your home and your current costs, you’ll earn your money back in the long term. You can reduce heating and cooling costs by more than a third, and receive a tax credit for 30% of the installation fee. It’s also one of the most efficient energy sources available, and a great selling point for your property.
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Raynor Large • Finance / Design and Communications Assistant
Raynor joined TREND as an Office Assistant in December 2009. In 2010, he took over responsibilities as the coordinator for TREND billing in the Finance Department and began working as a writer for the Design and Communications Department. Learn more about our editorial contributors...