Top 10 Things to Do This Summer for Your Home and Health
1 Plant a shade tree. A tree absorbs carbon dioxide, improves air quality, and controls flooding by minimizing runoff and topsoil loss. If located right it can offer free air conditioning on a sunny day for you and your home.
2 Switch all your light bulbs to LEDs (or at least CFLs) to reduce unnecessary heat gain from lights in your home. The average residential lighting energy usage is about 15% of your total energy use. Conventional light bulbs waste most of that energy as heat. An incandescent bulb gives off 90 percent of its energy as heat, while a compact fluorescent bulb wastes 80 percent as heat. LEDs remain cool.
3 Insulate your attic. If your attic is like most, it could use an extra blanket. Most homes have fiberglass or blown cellulose insulation with no air sealing. With the simple idea that hot air rises, getting your attic insulated right and air tight will improve your energy efficiency along with improving comfort and energy efficiency.
4 Air-seal your electrical outlets. Since we know that positive pressure always wants to go negative we know air movement is going to happen in your home through gaps and cracks. Sealing up those holes will protect your health and improve your energy efficiency.
5 Exhaust fans. Managing the humidity in your home is difficult at best. Higher humidity in the home pushes us to adjust the thermostat instead of focusing on energy usage to improve comfort. Running the exhaust fan during and for 10 minutes after your morning shower and the exhaust hood while you are cooking is a first line of defense in keeping the humidity low in your home. Better even is to connect the exhaust fan to a humidistat so it runs anytime humidity gets higher than optimal in your home.
6 Fix leaky faucets and toilets. Wasting potable water is a huge problem in our goal of being efficient. It not only hurts us on monthly bills but also costs us a precious resource and burdens our infrastructure. Leaks can account for 10,000 gallons of wasted water in a home every year – or enough to fill a backyard swimming pool.
7 Lower the temperature on your hot water heater. Most water heaters come set at 140 degrees when installed while most households only need them to be set at 120 degrees. Turning back the thermostat on your hot water heater can protect against scalding, cut your energy bill, and lengthen the life of your water heater.
8 Collect Rainwater Rainwater is better for your plants because it is naturally soft and free of chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals. Reducing runoff also minimizes the amount of water flowing into the sewer system and local waterways – this runoff can contain pesticides and fertilizers which is damaging to the eco-system.
9 Close the curtains Using curtains, shades, and / or shutters can greatly improve your home’s ability to fight off those high summer temperatures and help maintain a comfortable home.
10 Use Solar Energy to reduce your impact on the grid. When building new, plan your home for solar in the future even if you are not going to install it initially. Solar energy is renewable, efficient, and getting more affordable every day.