Want to make your home more environmentally friendly? Are you eager to roll up your sleeves on a new home improvement project or just simply improve your current energy efficiency? Why not combine the two? Here are several green DIY projects and home improvement tips that will help your home be more energy-efficient, reduce your carbon footprint and even save you some money in the process.
Right bulbs at the right level.
Replace old standard lights bulbs with energy efficient, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). CFL bulbs use up to 75 percent less electricity than standard bulbs. And since lighting makes up 20% of the average American’s electric bill, you’re talking about a tremendous cost savings right out of the box. The price is a bit higher, but CFL bulbs last an average 8-10 times longer than conventional bulbs. You can save anywhere from $25 to $100 dollars per bulb over the lifetime, depending on wattage, average hours, and user trends. Upgrade your entire home with fluorescent light bulbs and you can save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
For a DIY lighting project consider installing dimmer switches onto your current lighting system. For one, it will make your home more energy efficient by utilizing only the necessary light needed. Second, it will help prevent eye-strain by avoiding excessive amounts of light while you’re working or playing. This is especially important if you have a home office. Finally, dimmer switches allow you to set the right lighting concept for every aspect of your life at home. Planning a romantic dinner for two? The kids have friends over to study? Whatever the occasion, you can now create the perfect atmosphere.
Please note: Not all CFL bulbs are compatible with dimmer switches. If you are planning on going fluorescent AND adding a dimmer system to your home or office, please check the CFL package to determine if it can be used with a dimmer.
Unplug your home electronics
When you leave your home electronics plugged in and they’re not being used they still consume energy. Even devices with a “standby mode” will use power and add additional cost to your power bill. After you are done using the toaster or cell phone charger unplug it. A simple solution would be connecting all these items to a power strip; you can easily turn them on or off when you please. By turning off or unplugging your appliances in this way, you’ll be shaving $10 - $20 off of your monthly electric bill – that’s up $240 per year! Below is a chart outlining typical household electronics and their standby watt consumption
Go solar or go home
Installation of solar panels can be a challenging DIY project, but if you are a homeowner interested in being more energy efficient and maintaining the long-term health of the planet the rewards can be phenomenal. Solar Panels can be a large investment, ranging anywhere from $8,500 to $15,000++ before rebates, but they are well worth your consideration. You gain independence from utility companies, save thousands in energy costs in the long-term, and the government will contribute a significant amount to your solar panel upgrade. If you can’t dish out $10,000 dollars then start out small to establish your comfort zone with the procedure. Then as time goes by you can dedicate more and more of your home’s energy supply to the sun.
Seal your home
Do you know how much hot and cold air you’re letting out of your house? Go through your house and ensure that all windows and doors are properly sealed and insulated. This can be performed in any number of ways, the simplest of which is asking yourself if your home feels too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. Also, in the winter check each room in the house for drafts. If you determine that air is escaping, adding fiberglass insulation to the rooms that need it, or purchase a home insulation kit for windows and doors that will help you eliminate any unwanted drafts or escaping air. This will save you a tremendous amount of money each year, and decrease the size of your carbon footprint to boot. In the United States, we waste a tremendous amount of energy just because our homes are not properly sealed. Windows and doors are responsible for 25% of heat loss in the winter, while your walls account for another 35%! That means enhancing these areas with good insulation practices can improve your energy efficiency by 60% in the costly winter months.
Focus on the attic and the basement to see maximum returns – these are two most likely culprits in your home right now.
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An affordable DIY home improvement for reducing your carbon footprint and increasing energy efficiency would be installing double pane windows. They help maximize your heat loss prevention in the winter, and prevent heat from seeping in during the summer. The also keep your house quieter by dramatically reducing outdoor noise.
Return to the good old days of doing the laundry
While we’re on the subject of reducing your family’s carbon footprint, building an “old school” laundry drying station in the back yard or laundry room is an excellent little project that considerably reduces the amount of energy you use. Create two wood structures in a convenient location and string a durable rope or non-metal wire across them. Viola! Instant clothes drying station.
It may a take a little longer to dry your clothes, but cutting back on dryer-use lends a big hand to the environment, and you’ll get more fresh air throughout the course of the day.
Build a recycling center
When surveyed, many people claim that they would recycle more, but that they just don’t have the time to sort through all the plastics, aluminum cans and paper that their family tears through in a day. Building a simple recycling center in the kitchen or backyard can put an end to all of these excuses once and for all.
Here’s an example of a recycling center project you can do at home:
Gather 3 or 4 bins to be used for recycling. Build a simple frame or box for the bins to fit in. You can build one out of scraps of lumber you may have leftover from another project or even use reclaimed lumber. Paint with leftover wall paint if you’re keeping it indoors or leave as-is. Label a bin for each material type (glass, paper, plastic, etc.) Store the bins in a convenient location and you’re on your way to living a more sustainable life.
Install energy-efficient appliances
OK, unless you build appliances from scratch this project is not technically DIY, however, choosing more energy-efficient appliances for your home can exponentially reduce the power you burn through every day. When choosing a refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer, or water heater, get the appliances with the Energy Star Label. The average American home pays approximately $2,000 per year in energy bills. By using Energy Star products you can reduce that bill, on average, by a whopping $700 per year! Plus you’ll be making a difference by reducing pollution, maximizing water use, and getting the benefits of lower power bills at the end of every month.
Make your tools as green as they can be!
Just like your home, the power tools you use can be made more environmentally sound with just a few good decisions. Consider the batteries that put the charge into your power tools. Instead of buying hundreds of batteries every year (that clog up landfills for generations), try using rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries instead. They last longer than other batteries and are much better for the environment than Nickel-Cadmium batteries.
SKIL Lithium-Ion Batteries were engineered using non-hazardous soft metals that are safe for disposal while nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries contain toxic metals that cause health risks when disposed of in landfills. It’s another benefit to superior technology – and another way SKIL helps you help the environment.
Whether you’re building a solar panel or just tightening up a dripping faucet, successful DIY home projects start with the right tools. SKIL has been providing do-it-yourselfers with long-lasting, reliable, easy to operate power tools since 1924. Now, as the future of the environment we leave behind for our children hangs in the balance, you need SKIL on your side more than ever!