Is your home ready for winter?
The start of autumn is a sure sign that winter is just around the corner. If this brings back painful memories of cold drafts in your home and higher utility bills, now is a great time to make your home greener and its energy consumption leaner.
According to the U.S. Department of energy, simply reducing drafts can save anywhere from 5% to 30% in energy costs per year. Boosting your home’s sustainability and cutting energy consumption doesn’t necessarily require an elaborate plan. However, depending on your home’s age and condition, a home energy assessment could help you discover even more ways to save. Should you decide to go this route, you can either hire a professional or roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.
A professional home energy assessment can provide a detailed snapshot of your home’s green potential. It involves thoroughly evaluating heating, cooling and other systems as well as recommended fixes for any problems found. If your home is already operating pretty sustainably, it may help you squeeze out every last drop of additional savings. When looking to hire a professional, carefully research and select the right energy auditing company to fit your needs. Click here for more information about professional home energy assessments.
Are you pretty handy around the house and like to take on new challenges? Then a do-it-yourself home energy assessment may be right up your alley. Inspecting your home for air leaks and sustainable upgrades in areas such as lighting and water is a great way to gain a deeper understanding of your home and its green potential. Then comes the fun part. Caulking nooks and crannies, installing weather stripping, sealing windows with shrink-and-seal insulating plastic, adding more insulation, and more can be very rewarding and economical. Plus, you can make fixes and upgrades as your schedule and budget allows. Click here to learn more about DIY home energy assessments.
While most of the above information is geared toward homeowners, renters who pay their own utilities may still have an opportunity to increase their apartment’s energy efficiency. See if your landlord will reimburse you for the cost of performing apartment upgrades. It’s worth asking.
Also, don’t forget that how you use and conserve resources has a direct impact on your wallet and the environment. Simple things like turning down the heat at night and when no one is home, turning off lights in empty rooms, opening curtains to let in daylight instead of turning on lights, and shutting the faucet off while brushing your teeth can go a long way in further reducing your costs and carbon footprint.
So whether you hire a professional or go the DIY route to enhance the energy efficiency of your home, remember that there are various incentives, rebates, tax credits and loans available to lower your up-front costs. For information on saving some green while greening your home and calculating your household's carbon footprint, check out the related links above.
To learn about the sustainability efforts and activities across the SU campus and in our community, please visit the other areas of our website.
Reminder: Recycle your #5 plastics!
#5 plastics (wide-mouthed, tub-shaped yogurt cups, butter tubs, cottage cheese containers, whipped topping containers, etc.) can now be recycled on campus and throughout Onondaga County along with #1 and #2 plastics. Learn more about what's recyclable at The GreenUniverseCity website or OCRRA's searchable database.
The green spotlight
Each month we’ll introduce you to a sustainable person or department within the SU community. Know someone or a group that has gone green and deserves to have their story told? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martha Love Virgil literally “walks the green talk” to get to her job in Sims Hall here at Syracuse University. She chooses to walk to work from her home on the edge of campus.
“I don’t drive unless I absolutely have to,” says Love Virgil, office coordinator for the School of Social Work in the College of Human Ecology. “It’s about a 30-minute walk to my building every day, so I walk to and from work and I drive only when it’s absolutely necessary.”
Love Virgil is also known among her coworkers as the office’s “green” person. She’s had a positive influence on lowering the carbon footprint of Social Work’s offices and classrooms. Her homemade signs reminding everyone to turn off lights and reduce waste by using reusable coffee mugs took awhile to catch on, but eventually swayed many to act in more eco-friendly ways.
“Hanging signs is a really easy way to grab someone’s attention,” says Love Virgil. “Another thing that’s really easy is recycling. It’s just a matter of paying attention when you are throwing away something that is recyclable. Almost always there is a recycle bin right next to the trash bin. I think Social Work students do like to recycle. They are pretty responsive to my signs.”
Love Virgil says that most of what she has learned about “going green” came from the tips available at SU’s Sustainability website The GreenUniverseCity. And incorporating even more sustainability into her life is definitely a future goal.
“One thing I’ve wanted to do for awhile now is grow my own vegetable garden,” she says. “Hopefully I’ll get that going when I have some more spare time.”
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