Amid the gloomy financial news, unbelievably high gas prices, curtailed housing market, electrical rate increases, chilling propane bills and water conservation penalties, it sometimes feels as though the forces of the world are conspiring to make living in this part of paradise an implausible dream. The main thing to remember is that the economy runs in cycles and there are brighter days ahead.
The most frustrating aspect for many of us in these difficult times is that it seems we have little or no control over the impacts that play such a major role in our lives. While we don’t have control over the outside events, we can choose to take responsibility for what we can do.
More today than ever before, the green movement is at the forefront of the public discussion: eco-friendly, carbon footprint, global warming, energy-efficient. These catch phrases have become part of our lexicon as we’ve become more aware of our impact on the environment and our role in protecting it. As a homeowner, there are some simple, inexpensive steps you can take to make your home energy-efficient. Get started on the road to being “green” with these five tips:
Change your light bulbs
By replacing just five incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, you can save $100 per year on electric bills while using up to 75 percent less energy and removing greenhouse gases from the environment.
Buy ENERGY STAR®appliances
ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, such as refrigerators, washers and air conditioners, meet a higher level of energy efficiency set by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy than standard models. According to ENERGY STAR, if just one in 10 homes used ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, the impact could be compared to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees. And, switching to these appliances is not only good for the environment, but easy on your pocketbook. Although these appliances may cost more, you can reduce your energy bill by $80 per year.
Cracks and air leaks represent cash seeping from your doors and windows. Get rid of air leaks in doors, windows and other areas by caulking gaps and cracks. This will help decrease your heating and air conditioning bill. But make sure you use silicone sealants. Acrylic caulk tends to shrink, while silicone sealants are waterproof and won’t shrink or crack, creating less waste.
Use less water
Did you know that roughly 60 percent of a home’s water consumption takes place in the bathroom, according to the California Urban Water Conservation Council? The largest culprit is the toilet, which accounts for 27 percent of your household supply every year. By installing low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucets, you can save thousands of gallons of water each year. In addition, replace leaky fixtures. That slow-dripping faucet can waste as much as 2,400 gallons of water per year.
Adjust the thermostat
When adjusting your home’s thermostat, the rule of thumb should be: turn up the dial in the summer and down in the winter. Lowering the temperature by just one degree will reduce your electrical costs. And if you use a
programmable thermostat, you can program your air-conditioning and heating systems to reduce output while no one is at home or at night while you sleep. Ceiling fans are also helpful in circulating the air to keep the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Recycle all you can
By using the recycling opportunities available to us, we will extend the life of our landfill and help the struggling industries that rely on recyclables for their production. Take your paper and cardboard to the drop off bins at Walmrt and Green Valley Park. Take your aluminum cans to the Humane Society and your old car batteries and used motor oil to one of the local auto parts store.
Going green doesn’t have to be overwhelming or costly. By making just a few small changes within your home, you can help decrease energy consumption and help make the world a “greener” place.
While doing the things we can in our homes won’t necessarily relieve all of the economic problems of the world that are confronting us today. Just like our right to vote, those things we can do, will allow us to contribute to the beginning of better days.
Cliff Potts, Associate Real Estate Broker, can be reached at (928) 474-2337. Prudential Arizona Properties is an independently owned and operated member of Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., a Prudential Financial company. Equal Housing Opportunity.