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 Friday, July 20th, 2018

Do you know the difference between a “Green House” and “greenhouse effect?” One is a comfortable living space that contributes to energy efficiency and environmental conservation. The other contributes to rising temperatures that may be harmful for the earth and its inhabitants.

Everyone’s talking about it…and now, you’re probably thinking how you, too, can actually make a difference. We’re referring to “Going Green” in your home, and in your everyday living. Like many Americans, you may have likely begun to take action.

So what does “going green” mean? By definition it means making your home “an ecologically and/or operationally improved living space that makes things better for planet Earth, its people, or both.”

In reality, homeowners who “go green” can also “save green” in the form of vastly improved energy efficiency that translates into substantial savings on utility bills.

Realization and Research

Today, making a successful lifestyle transition from wasteful to “smart” begins with a combination of realization and research.

Initially, our collective national interest was piqued with factual “documented savings” derived from doing a number of simple things, like:

  • Switching to compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Sealing air leaks with caulk and weather-stripping
  • Insulating water heaters with heat-retaining wrap
  • Installing low-flow showerheads
  • Adding programmable thermostats

All of these “quick fixes” are inexpensive, easily done and can add up to noticeable and respectable savings annually on both energy costs and water bills…and, in many cases, they are already in place and providing day-to-day comfort and monetary benefits.

If you’re not doing these easy steps, it’s time to take action.

Implementing such simple items makes way for larger “stage-two” efforts, including:

And, here again, many homeowners have already made the investment and they are reaping the rewards.

But is this enough? Should you be considering and doing more? Probably so. Here’s why… and how.

“The Times – and Atmosphere – They Are A-Changing…”

For many Americans, watching the Oscar be awarded to a documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” about global warming and the necessary incremental steps to combat it, clearly struck a cord in our collective awareness for the need for everyone to get involved in a bigger way.

But living in an environmentally friendly “healthy” environment - one that benefits everybody and everything, including your pocketbook - doesn’t necessarily mean going overboard. Rather, the answer lies somewhere between doing absolutely nothing and living like a hippie of the 1960s, say in a home made of recycled tires. The “Answer My Friend…” is indeed in realization and research.

First, “realize” there are many terrific solutions available to homeowners today that both improve the quality of day-to-day living and also provide big energy savings that helps to preserve the environment. This includes projects, like:

  • Purchasing energy saving “Energy Star” major appliances
  • Installing energy-efficient windows and doors
  • Installing state-of-the-art Heating, Cooling and Ventilation (HVAC) systems that provide optimum comfort, air quality and energy savings (http://www.lennox.com/residential/)
  • Installing solar photovoltaic panels as an additional or alternative source of electricity
  • Installing solar thermal collectors for household and/or recreational water heating
  • Remodeling or building with environmentally friendly and easily renewable, sustainable materials.

Do Your ‘Home’work

There are three important aspects to successfully go “green,” and this is where the need for a bit of “research” comes into play. Here are some suggestions and resources to get you started:

(1) Review products and technologies available today and learn what benefits these products provide to determine what is right for you and your family lifestyle — and pocketbook.

  • Before you buy, recognize and learn how the “Energy Star” label means big energy savings when it comes to selecting major appliances (http://www.energystar.gov ).
  • Learn how installing energy saving windows with new glass technologies, such as Low-E glass (that reflects heat in summer and admits heat in winter), saves you money (http://www.velux.com) and learn about new types of hi-tech energy-efficient doors (such as fiberglass) currently available (http://www.thermatru.com).
  • Learn how state-of-the-art Heating, Cooling and Ventilation (HVAC) products keep you in step with recent government mandates requiring environmental upgrades. For example: new EPA rulings require Air Conditioners be upgraded to a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating). Be sure your new AC unit meets minimum cooling capacities. There is also a mandated changeover to new R-410-A refrigerant (versus R22 - the previous industry standard).
  • You can avoid premature obsolescence and potential service problems when warranties expire just by purchasing an AC unit using with the new R-410-A refrigerant - often at no additional cost. http://www.lennox.com.
  • Learn how today’s residential solar products can put the energy of the sun to work for you – helping to produce higher amounts of electricity, hot water and ambient heat – at no additional cost (http://www.seia.org/solartypes.php and http://www.seia.org/mythsandfacts.php)
  • Learn about today’s environmentally friendly and easily renewable “sustainable” building materials (such as the use of bamboo for wood flooring).

(2) Investigate financing options for larger energy-efficient and “green” home improvements. Consider a home equity loan or line of credit for home improvements (a tax adviser can help you determine if the interest is deductible).

  • Some financing options also offer value-added incentives that promote environmentally sustainable products and technology, and donate to nonprofit organizations that focus on environmental conservation on behalf of first-time home equity users. For example, as part of an innovative $20 billion “Environmental Initiative,”  Bank of America currently is developing a set of products for individuals who consider the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions and want to offset or minimize their carbon emissions. The bank will announce the launch of the following new products in the next year. http://www.bankofamerica.com/environment

(3) Don’t overlook “hidden” benefits of investing in major energy saving “green” improvements - such as various income, property and sales tax credits offered by federal, state and city governments. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=Products.pr_tax_credits

Some utilities also offer energy discounts and credits. Many now use “tiered” pricing, which means the more you use, the more you are charged. By decreasing the amount of electricity, gas or water purchased, you could fall into a lower pricing tier and be charged at a lower and more favorable rate. (Check with local utilities for details.)

Up-to-Date vs. Out-of-Date

Beyond all of the obvious and immediate reasons for “going green,” there is still

one more important consideration - the resale value of your home, your greatest investment

If you steadfastly avoid making energy-saving, quality-of-life-enhancing home improvements - enduring old drafty windows and high utility bills instead -your home may be a potential dinosaur when you decide to sell and move on.

Today, thinking “green” and making the effort does make a difference…both for you and others, in almost every way imaginable.

It’s an appealing alternative you cannot afford to overlook. Go green.

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