Home has never been more central to our everyday lives than during this challenging time. Home is now a place of residence, an office, a classroom, a gym and the best restaurant available all at once. One up side to all this time at home is the opportunity to make improvements that impact our global ecosystem. With more than 316 million American households staying home, the production of greenhouse gases has already seen drastic reductions, with global emissions reductions of at least 25 percent due to measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, according to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).
This Earth Day is an ideal time to take a look around your home and identify ways you can continue to make a difference. Our partners at protective home maintenance platform Sheltr share their tips that any home DIYer can do. Whether your home is five years old or 50 years old, these actions save energy that positively impacts our cherished Mother Earth, and may even put some financial savings back in your pockets when they’re needed most. Which ones make sense for your home?
Consider a smart sensor for your home’s sprinkler system. As warm weather comes and homeowners water their yards and gardens more frequently, a smart sensor can make drastic improvements to your energy and water consumption. Smart monitoring of your irrigation and landscape can save up to 25,000 gallons per year of water.
Check for leaks – everywhere. Small leaks can lead to big costs, and even bigger waste. For instance, checking and repairing leaky water lines that power refrigerators may cost around $170, a huge savings when compared with the roughly $2,500 cost of flood damage. Additionally, purchasing a water main key for your home (about $20) will enable you to shut off water in the case of leaking pipes even if you cannot reach the leak immediately.
Pro Tip: WaterSense labeled products – from sinks to sprinklers – can be found at most common retailers and can save big on water consumption and expenditures. Your water provider may also offer rebates for use of these products in your home.
Switch to a smart thermostat. These gadgets take the guesswork and the pressure off of homeowners, as they automatically shift temperatures even if residents forget; keep temperatures consistent without overstressing the system. Most also have “away” modes that reduce heating and cooling energy leading to average savings of 10-15 percent to homeowners’ utility expenses. There are step-by-step guides available to DIY installations for added savings.
Fact: Overall, space heating and air conditioning account for 51% of energy consumption in homes. Close your blinds when you leave home to help maintain consistent temperatures and save energy.
Service HVAC units. HVAC units should be checked and serviced regularly to ensure efficient operation. Filters should be replaced at least every three to six months, while the entire system should be evaluated each year. ENERGY STAR estimates that sealing heating and cooling ducts can increase system efficiency by as much as 20 percent.
Install smarter lighting. If the nearly 75 percent energy savings and 18 percent longer lifespan that LED lighting provides isn’t compelling enough, consider adding other “smart” features, like lighting timers to avoid excess power. In addition to financial savings, swapping bulbs in favor of LED options also significantly reduces the chance that a faulty lightbulb will cause an electrical shortage or even a house fire.
Pro Tip: ENERGY STAR labeled products are available for virtually all areas of your home and are certified to reduce energy consumption, emissions and air pollution.
Evaluate your home’s insulation. Some elements are easily visible -- peeling stripping around window and door frames, for instance. Many older homes simply do not have enough insulation or have stripping and sealing that has deteriorated over time. Adding and repairing seals and insulation in these areas can reduce excess air leakage by 25 percent, and it’s something you can add to your shelter-in-place-to-do list..
As we reflect on our environmental footprints on Earth Day, the experts at Sheltr are thinking about increased efficiency – and how it helps homeowners – every day. If you’re unsure where to begin, their team is setting up free telemaintenance consultations with its Home Pros to answer your home questions for the duration of the national shelter in place recommendations by the CDC to help you prioritize the best steps for your home.