“Eco-friendly” most commonly refers to actions or items that are not harmful to the environment. In this instance, “eco” is an abbreviation for ecology, but who’s to say it can’t also stand for economy? As a homeowner, there are plenty of actions you can take that are good for the world and your wallet. Here are six to get you started!
Save water to save on water
Westwood’s Water Works perhaps puts it best: “Decreasing water usage can help preserve this precious resource while maintaining a happy and healthy quality of life.” A small adjustment to your daily routine can make a big difference. Next time you brush your teeth, for example, take note of whether you leave the water running the entire time. If so, it’s a simple fix! It won’t take long to train yourself to turn it off when you don’t need it. Looking for more easy ways to save water? Here are 190!
A U.S. president once said, “insulation is sexy stuff.” Silly as it may sound, many experts agree, at least with the sentiment. Uninsulated homes lose both hot and cool air, so they are working against you year-round, wasting energy and money. Installing proper insulation can pad more than just your walls; in the long term, this environmentally-friendly effort may pad your wallet, too. It might take a few years to make back the total cost of installation, but you will start feeling the return immediately — literally!
Pro tip: Building a home? Ask your contractor about advanced framing. With this technique, the spacing of the studs allows for more insulation than conventional spacing, setting you up to save on both heating and cooling your home. Furthermore, this approach reduces wood use and possibly even labor costs, which could end up saving you money in the construction process.
Go with the [low] flow
One might imagine using 25%-60% less water when showering would require a major bathroom renovation, but it’s easier than you think. The two basic types of low-flow showerheads are: aerating, which mixes air with water to form a misty spray; Laminar-flow, which forms individual streams of water. Quality, low-flow showerheads are available for around $10 to $20.
Stick with energy-efficient appliances
When shopping around for appliances, be sure to include products that have earned the ENERGY STAR in your search. They may initially be a little more expensive than alternatives, but they’re known to be very durable and more environmentally friendly, not to mention likely to help you save on utility bills. According to ENERGY STAR, clothes washers and dryers that have earned their certification deliver superior efficiency and performance, saving users $490 and up to 30% on energy costs over the lifetime of the appliance
Pro tip: New Jersey offers financial incentives for “going green” through The New Jersey Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program (HPwES), which assesses a home’s overall performance and energy efficiency, taking into account improvements to insulation, duct sealing, heating and cooling systems, windows, doors, and appliances. Through this program, the more energy saving measures you install, the greater the incentive you may be eligible to receive. Visit the website for full details and information on eligibility. There are also federal income tax credits available for homeowners who are making energy-efficient choices.
Nip leaking faucets in the bud
“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” ―Benjamin Franklin. A leaky faucet may be the perfect example to illustrate this point. A dripping faucet might seem like small potatoes, but over time it can cumulatively hemorrhage gallons upon gallons of water, wasting means and money. If you’d like to get an approximate idea of how much water your leaky faucet is wasting, try this drip calculator from the USGS Water Science School. We tried it out and discovered that a faucet that drips once per minute actually loses 34 gallons in one year!
Seal leaky ducts for savings (and comfort)
Leaky air ducts can waste up to 30% in energy costs, not to mention make your home less comfortable. Worse yet, they can pull in dirt and contaminants from your attic and walls. Exposed duct joints can be sealed, but not those buried in walls and ceilings. Ducts can be sealed from the inside using a process called aerosol duct sealing, but it’s not commonly considered a DIY project. According to The Family Handyman magazine, a professional aerosol duct cleaning for an average home can cost anywhere from $1,800-$2,500. Expect costs to be on the higher end if your HVAC equipment is located in an area with limited access, such as an attic or finished basement. Projected return on investment falls somewhere in the three-to-five-year range.
If taking steps to make your home more energy efficient earns you some extra pocket money, don’t just save it for a rainy day…let us help you make it make it grow! One of the best ways to do that is to deposit it into an interest-bearing account, such as savings, money market, or certificate of deposit (CD). Visit the NVE website, one of our convenient neighborhood branches in Bergen County, or call 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265) to learn more.
The Family Handyman, October 2016, p. 65