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Living more conveniently, while saving money and impacting the environment less, is a luxury that Rinnai’s energy-efficient water heating technology has made possible and affordable for many. The continuous, endless supply of hot water, heated on demand for as long as it’s required, generates daily savings that can be significantly increased through other green technology investments and simple practices throughout the home.
Over time, the intent to be an energy-conscious consumer turns deliberate practices into instinctual habits. That transition does not necessitate the compromise of comforts and amenities, however.
Follow these steps to make your house the eco-friendly epicenter of your neighborhood while preserving the standard of living you’ve come to enjoy.
1. Look for the ENERGY STAR® logo on appliances and select quality models with demonstrated longevity. Americans using the products of this government-backed program, including home office equipment and other electronics, saved the equivalent of 23 million cars’ emissions in 2005 alone, according to ENERGY STAR®. Find take-back programs available for how to properly get rid of – and when to recycle – stoves, refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers past their prime.
2. Locate and seal off air leaks. Window and door frames, floorboard and wall intersections, fireplace dampers, mail slots, doggie doors, and anywhere weather stripping is lined should be examined with a wet hand or lit incense stick for detecting cool air drafts. Caulk for small leaks works well while expanding foam fills larger and irregular openings. Install insulation for major exposure.
3. Supplement heating and cooling with humidifier and dehumidifier. In colder months, a humidifier set to 20% to 40% humidity will allow you to turn down your thermostat and still feel comfortable. Conversely, remove moisture in warmer months with a dehumidifier, thus permitting a higher air conditioner setting.
4. Wash clothes in cold water. Per load, only 10% of total energy used goes to the washer motor; the rest heats water. Loads washed in cold water come out as clean as those that get the hot water treatment.
5. Retrofit your insulation. Many types of insulation used to reduce energy usage, and thus lower greenhouse emissions, are made from hydrofluorocarbons that actually produce toxic greenhouse gases that leak out. Insulate your home with polyurethane foam sprayed into foundations and within walls. It also has a higher R-6 insulating value than commonly used extruded polystyrene with an R-5 value. Other alternatives include cellulose, often spun from recycled denim, as well as fiberglass and mineral wool materials.
6. Recycle rainwater by placing a barrel beneath one of your gutter’s downspouts. As the cost of municipal water rises and drought restrictions limit usage, harvesting rainwater in 50 and 80-gallon barrels is an effective, natural solution to keep yards and gardens flourishing.
7. Install ceiling fans to drive down a cool breeze and air-conditioning costs by as much as 40% in summer. In winter, reverse their direction for savings of up to 10% on heating by circulating warm air from the ceiling to the floor. Most ceiling fan switches should be in the down position in summer for a counter clockwise spin and up in the winter, turning clockwise to send more comfortable air out and down.
8. Install energy-efficient windows to minimize heat loss. Nearly 25% of your energy bill costs come from lost heat through traditional panes. Talk about throwing money out the window! Investigate adding solar shades to pane exteriors and multiple barrier windows, as well as louvered windows for directing summer breezes, depending on your home’s location. The federal government provides tax credits for increasing your windows’ efficiency.
9. Insulate exposed water pipes. Use half-inch foam or pipe tape for wrapping pipes for protection and cost savings. Pipe insulation can save you up to $25 annually.