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Casa Verde: 21 Eco-Friendly Home Improvements

I'm always looking for new ways to make my home greener, so thanks to Tdamji for pointing me to this list of 21 eco-friendly home improvements. (By the way, if you haven't checked out Tdamji's Minimal Harm — For the Love of the Planet group, I highly recommend it.)

This 21-green salute will help your conscience and your pocketbook, saving money and increasing your home's value. How many of these tactics do you use in your home? Tell me in the comments section below, or share some of your own ideas.

  1. Consider installing solar panels. If you decide to buy some, consider used ones, as they are quite a bargain and even after as long as twenty years have been known to produce a good percentage of the power that was generated when they were brand new.
  2. Replace all the standard light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent ones. These energy-smart bulbs use 70 to 75 percent less energy than the incandescent kind and last up to ten times longer!
  3. Roof improvements. Believe it or not, research indicates that roof color and the type of material used can help to lower attic temperatures. Light-colored tile roofs outperform the shingle ones when it comes to decreasing temperatures.
  4. Install a motion detector outside to replace your outdoor lighting. Outdoor lights left on all night waste energy and disturb wildlife.
  5. For the rest of the list,

  6. Don't waste water. Check your home carefully for leaky faucets and get them repaired as quickly as possible. Use cold water when laundering clothes and adjust your clean threshold if you possibly can. Those jeans of yours can probably be worn a few more times than usual before washing them, and can't that towel be dried off at least one more time before throwing it in the hamper?
  7. Install low flow showerheads. They are a worthwhile investment (especially if you live in a rented space, because you can take them with you). They cut down on water usage and save energy costs.
  8. Create a compost pile in your backyard. Mix food wastes with dirt and use a shovel to turn the pile over every week or so to give it some air. Turn throwaways like eggshells, coffee grounds and spoiled vegetables into soil and garbage into something useful.
  9. Install an aluminum-clad storm door. This type of door is energy-efficient and will help to insulate the entryway of your home.
  10. Some considerations when heating and cooling our homes: Invest in a high-efficiency HVAC system that is Energy Star certified and install it in your home. This will greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted. It will also shave your utility bill enough to make you smile reasonably broadly.
  11. Clean out your air conditioner filters or replace them regularly. A dirty filter will hamper the airflow, costing you more to run your system.
  12. Consider investing in and installing an automated thermostat. High-tech thermostats are well worth the cost, and what you spend, you will get back over time in lower energy bills.
  13. Install glass doors for your fireplace. Glass doors are safer than fireplace screens. They also reduce the amount of heat that escapes through the chimney from your home.
  14. Use power strips for your home computers. Even after you turn off your computer, power continues to flow to peripherals like printers and scanners.
  15. Install more fans in your home. Ceiling fans can help reduce your family's dependence on air conditioning during the summer, and they are also helpful in the winter as they can push heat down from the ceiling.
  16. Do an "energy audit" in your home and make a list of what needs to be done to get things up to "green par." Take that list to your online supplier or local hardware store and enlist their help in buying needed supplies.
  17. Insulate your home. Doors and windows are two of the most obvious areas of concern when it comes to home energy conservation. Use weather-stripping.
  18. Seal off unexpected trouble spots. Sometimes the less obvious spots in your home can be a source of energy loss and you will need to be thorough in order to seek out and destroy them! Check out the areas around light switches and electrical outlets.
  19. Live by the code of the 3 Rs; Refuse, Reuse and Recycle. Keep these three things in mind whenever you buy, use or discard anything.
  20. Stop a leak. Organize a "stop a leak day" on which everyone in your family tightens, insulates, replaces, caulks or does whatever else is necessary to make your home as "watertight" as possible.
  21. Add insulation to your hot water heater. Don't forget that the standard water heater found in most homes is on all the time. Adding some extra insulation will save more energy than you would think and knock up to 15 percent off the costs of heating water.
  22. Consider window tinting to reduce the glare of the sun. First of all, it will reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Tinting will also eliminate up to 99 percent of damaging ultraviolet rays and reduce the fading of your fine fabrics and furnishings.
Join The Conversation
red4ev red4ev 9 years
about #14...attic fans are also a great way to lower your ac bill...we have one in our house...we have a huge 1924 brick house that's plastered on the inside and that fan which is from the 1950s cools our house down super fast and it drowns out my husbands snoring...its great for spring and fall
libs1dlab libs1dlab 9 years
Wow, that's great. I did not know about the Ikea bulbs. We use CFLs in every room of our home, but I am very careful with them. We have also done many thing on the list since we purchased our home two years ago. More projects are in the works. Thanks for all the great posts. I can always learn/do more.
koolbr33z3 koolbr33z3 9 years
Thanks for the tips!
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I like the ideas. I wish I had solar panels. I really need to buy some CFLs for my house since I need some new bulbs anyway.
Ejmcmis Ejmcmis 9 years
Were totally on top of # 14 The rest of the article was facinating and I jotted down some stuff and I think I will defiantly try to apply at home ... I loved the fix a leak thing !
delia delia 9 years
It's true that CFLs contain mercury and need to be disposed of properly - however, each bulb contains less mercury than old-fashioned thermometers, so the risk is pretty minimal. And there are a lot of tips here that are good for apartment dwellers, too! I'm definitely going to invest in a blanket for the water heater in my apartment; I pay the bill to heat it, so I may as well reap the benefits!
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
have a few things to add: while the list above is mostly geared to home owners, it isn't entirely so: i bought myself a programmable thermostat 6 years ago and have installed it and then removed it from all the apartments where i've lived, since then. of course things like having low-flow showerheads and wasting less water are tips that anyone can implement, as well, in addition to many of the other things on the list. If you go over to the Minimal Harm group, i am putting together a series of posts on "greening your home" and have done 2 areas so far. these tips do not require investment in new items or renovation, just simple things related to that area of the home. I am a student and will be living in apartments for many more years, so I try to recommend things that are easy for many people to do without a lot of cost. Here's a post I did recently on full-spectrum CFL bulbs: a solution for people concerned about the light rendition from CFLs perhaps?! Oh, and IKEA has CFLs with a thin plastic casing on them, so if the bulb breaks, the pieces all stay in the plastic (rubber?!) membrane and no mercury is spilled. And as a reminder, IKEA takes CFLs for recycling...batteries too. ps. thank for promoting my group and reading my posts Casa! :D
libs1dlab libs1dlab 9 years
You need to be very careful with the compact fluorescent bulbs because they contain mercury. If one breaks, never touch it with your bare skin. Also, you don't want them to end up in a landfill either because of the mercury, but nobody ever mentions that.
redegg redegg 9 years
From personal experience, I just bought the "warm light" CFL's and they turned my deep golden yellow and white duvet cover to a pee yellow. I'd rather use a regular light bulb and not ruin the color of my bedding that I invested money in forever. Maybe a halogen- they give off a pure light and last a very long time.
kayamate kayamate 9 years
that article is really geared towards people who live in single-family-type homes with yards and the like. if you'd like to see something similar to that list, but directed more towards apartment or city living, you can check out or even for their go-green lists.
delia delia 9 years
RCLdesigngirl - I'm curious about the color of the newest LED you know anything about them? I'm a graphic designer that works at home, and I have CFLs throughout the house (and have to suck it up about the weird colors), but keep a daylight incandescent for when I'm discussing PMS colors with a client. I'll admit that I haven't done much reading about the LEDs, but they have caught my attention. I'm really interested in hearing what other designers/artists think of them. And honestly, the newer CFLs are SO SO SO much better than they used to be, I swear! ;)
RCLdesigngirl RCLdesigngirl 9 years
I just can't advocate the compact fluorescent bulbs. Their color rendering index is pitiful!
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