Thursday, April 16, 2009

Five Ways to Make Your Home and Wallet Greener

(ARA) - With tightened budgets, you may be surprised to learn that going green at home is not only good for the planet but also good for your pocket book.

“People are re-evaluating everything they do, from driving cars to how they eat,” says Lisa Tiedt, MSN.com green expert. “With a few simple home improvements, it’s easy to do a favor for Mother Earth, your wallet and your family - celebrate Earth Day (April 22).”

Tiedt offers five home improvements ideas that pay for themselves quickly and save you money in the long-run:

An Easy Audit

A home energy assessment is perhaps one of the easiest ways to determine if your home is earth-friendly or leaking money from its seams. Most local utility companies offer energy inventories for free. And for $250 to $300, many companies will put together a detailed assessment using thermal imaging. This gives you a punch list of easy places to improve sealing and maintain appliances. By making these improvements you will see huge energy savings in the long-run.

Grow Something Green

It sounds so simple, but planting a tree can help reduce energy costs up to 40 percent in warm climates, according to MSN.com. Your new-found foliage will block sunlight and reduce the need for air conditioning. In North America, the east and west sides of homes are exposed to the greatest amount of heat in summer months. In some hotter areas like Sacramento, Calif., the local government gives out free trees to reduce the strain on the grid during sizzling summer months.

“Planting a tree is a staple activity every Earth Day, but you don’t have to wait until April 22 to add something to your landscape,” says Tiedt. “If you have younger kids, getting down and dirty and planting a tree together is the perfect weekend activity.”

H20 Heaters

You guessed it -- your home’s largest energy-guzzler is your water heater. Some experts suggest wrapping the heater in fireproof insulation, which can be found at any home improvement store for less than $30, to save tremendous amounts of energy. To save big, install a tankless water heater. This heater is a system of coils and the unit heats water on demand. These types of heaters are not only more efficient, but they take up considerably less space.

Crack Down on Tracks

Ten tubes of caulk will do more to reduce a home’s energy waste than replacing every window. Apply paintable silicone caulk around windows and doors. To check for other energy leaks, look where any pipe, vent or electrical cable comes through the siding -- dryer vent outlets and hose bibs frequently present trouble spots.

Keep A/C Filters and Coils Clean

A dirty air filter reduces airflow, and a dirty condenser coil retains heat and is less efficient. The two can increase the system’s power consumption by 10 percent or more. Clean the condenser coil every two years and change filters monthly during peak cooling and heating seasons.

For more tips on how to have a greener home visit MSN.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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