VOL. 133 | NO. 132 | Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Going Green Without Spending the Green
“Going green” is a phrase that has grown in popularity, making its way into conversations surrounding just about everything. From how we use energy, grow our food and clean our homes, sustainability, I am proud to say, has wiggled its way into many arenas, including the one United Housing performs in – homeownership.
At United Housing, we are in the business of providing quality housing opportunities through education, mortgage lending, home renovation and homebuilding. When we renovate homes or build new ones, like those in Wolf River Bluffs, affordable sustainability is our goal.
At first glance, doing so looks to be too expensive of an undertaking for most. How can we ensure current or future residents will be able to save money on energy bills and water bills, while not breaking the bank? We have picked up a few easy tricks over the years.
Going green can be as simple as switching out light bulbs. On average, 5 percent of a home’s energy bill is dedicated to lighting. To reduce that and save money, replace the old-fashioned light bulbs in the five most-used light fixtures with energy-efficient options. When shopping for new bulbs, select those labeled as a compact fluorescent lamp. CFLs use less electricity than traditional bulbs, saving money and lasting up to five years longer.
Windows let in great natural lighting, but what if those windows are causing outside air to enter the home? They could be causing more harm than good. Replacing old single-pane windows with double-pane insulated Energy Star windows is a great way to have the best of both worlds – a great source of natural lighting without unwanted outside air making its way into the home.
Regardless of the type of windows you have, the sun shining through can cause your utility bill to rise in the summer months. Adding the right blinds and curtains can certainly help with this problem. Blinds can reduce heat infiltration by about 45 percent, while curtains reduce it by 33 percent, according to the Department of Energy. When shopping around, choose blinds that are highly reflective, like blackout curtains that have a white plastic backing.
There are ways to cut your energy bill when it comes to your appliances as well. When shopping for a new microwave or refrigerator in the future, look out for those that have the Energy Star label, which signifies that it is energy efficient. These appliances help reduce energy bills without sacrificing performance and features. Even if you just replace one of your appliances, it will have a lasting impact and save you money down the road.
As part of our educational services, United Housing offers a post-purchase homeowner course that highlights even more ways to reduce energy costs.
Cutting energy costs does not mean you have to have or do less, it just means you have to do things differently. So, whether it is new light bulbs, curtains or appliances, transitioning your home to being more “green” does not have to break the bank.
Amy Schaftlein is the executive director of United Housing, a nonprofit that provides quality housing opportunities through education, mortgage lending, homebuilding and home renovation.