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A Green Home Starts With Energy Efficiency

November 1st, 2008 · 2 Comments · Green Houston Topics

One of the questions that I get asked the most is ‘How exactly do I make my house Green?‘  or ‘If I want to Green up my house, where should I start?

Quick Disclaimer:  This is my opinion on existing homes.  New Construction homes are quite different.

When you look at all of the articles out there online or in magazines, it is very easy to get distracted and want to put in one feature over the other or to lean towards the ‘trendy’ side of Green because those Recycled glass tiles and bamboo cabinets are just SO neat.

But really, it all starts with Energy Efficiency in my opinion.  To start, let’s look again at what truly makes and constitutes a ‘GREEN’ home.

  • Energy Efficient to lower your Carbon Footprint AND Utility Bill
  • Healthier because Petroleum based products that offgas are SO NOT Green
  • Using Quality and Long Lasting products for Durability because having to replace something every 2-5 years and sending it to the landfill is not very sustainable

Now- we can nitpickand say that there are other attributes to Green Homes, and there are, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty it all goes back to these 3 items.  So here is my opinion as to where to start.

Seal up your home in a Responsible way.  By this I mean call an expert.  For about $200 or LESS you can get an Energy Audit done on your home.  If you seal up your home too much your home can not breathe.  It is like putting a plastic bag over your head- You are not letting air in or out, but you are contaminating the air you breathe.  Get an expert out to tell you if your A/C system is properly sized and if your home will have enough Fresh Air Ventilation so you don’t make the air in your home toxic.  Here are some examples of sealing your home:

  • Caulk around your windows
  • Re-weather strip your doors
  • Seal the space in your air return so that you do not pull air from inside your walls or attic
  • Don’t forget to seal or weather strip around your attic door
  • Caulk/seal around the air vents in each room

Of course a good way to start this process is by calling the folks at Free Lighting Corp if you are in the Houston area.  They will come out to your home and do this.  Centerpoint Energy will pay the bill, it’s FREE to you.

Change out your windows to Double Pane/Low E. This can be costly but it will help.  You may not see a huge difference in your light bill right away, but your rooms will be more comfortable allowing you to set your thermostat at a higher temperature.

Change out your ceiling fans to Energy Star rated ones.

Once you have ‘sealed up’ your home you should work on Ventilation and Heat Radiation.  A few examples of this are:

  • Radiant Barrier on your roof- it is now VERY affordable
  • Solar Attic Fans- for about $600 you can significantly reduce the temperature in your attic which in turn reduces how hard your A/C system works which in turn lowers the temperature of your home and extends the life of you Unit.
  • Insulation- Help keep the heat from entering through the ceiling
  • Change out your A/C unit even if it is only 8 or so years old.  As your HVAC systems age, they are less efficient and the older units do not focus as much on Humidity and Efficiency.  Change it out to atleast a 14 SEER.  Go with a higher SEER rating if it is within your budget.

Now how does this all make your home Green?  How does it tie together all of the 3 components of making your home green?  You will have to read the next post.  :)  This one is long already.

Part 2 of the Series is Here


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