Toronto Home Maintenance - Green Projects For Home
There are several things you can do to make your home "more Green", many of which can be done for just a few or a few hundred dollars. These can have a dramatic impact on your costs of home ownership as well as on your energy consumption.
In the house
- Insulate hot-water pipes
Your house's un-insulated hot-water pipes transfer their heat to the air like a house-size radiator. Water temperature quickly drops from the boiler's 40C down to lukewarm, so when you turn on the tap you have to wait for new hot water to get form the boiler to the tap, wasting water and all that energy. Insulate hot water pipes wherever you can access them by encasing them in rubber or polyethylene foam tubes. The tubes have a lengthwise a slit which you just slide over the pipe and press the adhesive-coated edges closed. Then seal the seams with duct tape. Insulation cuts heat loss by 50-70%. Cost: about $50.
- Add a recirculating pump under the sink
When you are waiting for hot water to arrive at your bathroom sink, the not-warm water flows down the drain. And if you ran off waiting for water to warm up you're wasting energy as well. With a recirculating pump, you flick a switch that sends not-hot (or slightly hot) water right back to the heater. When the water is warm enough, the pump shuts down and only hot water flows. Cost: under $300.
- Add a tube-type skylight
If there is a spot in your house that is dark even in the daytime, maybe a stairwell, a hallway, or a north-facing room, you can add a light tube, which redirects the sun's rays cheaper & faster than a conventional skylight. Install a plastic lens and a reflective tube through the attic to a clear diffuser in the ceiling for instant natural light. Some models have bulbs inside, for day & night lighting from the same fixture. The tubing fits nicely between rafters and can be installed in a half day. Cost: under $500.
- Install a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat lets pre-program your heating and air-conditioning systems to match your family's seven-day-a-week schedule. You can adjust winter temperatures for wake-up, when everyone is home from work or school and at bedtime. In the summer, you can adjust air conditioning so it's not on while nobody is home during the day. Energy savings are 1% per degree over an 8 hour period. Lowering your thermostat during the day or overnight can easily add up to 10% power savings. Cost: about $50.
- Install a smart ceiling fan
A ceiling fan saves energy by using its breeze to evaporate moisture (sweat) on your skin to cool you without air-conditioning. Good fans are Energy Star rated, and use compact flourescent bulbs instead of incandescent or halogen lights (saving you 50% right there). If you raise your air conditioner setting by 5 degrees you save 5% on your heating costs. Keeping a fan on all the time wastes energy, so adding an occupancy sensor shuts off the fan when no one's in the room. Cost: about $100.
- Replace can lights
Recessed fixtures look great by brightening a room without ceiling clutter, but top-floor lights let heat from the lights and the house escape into the attic. You can buy a retrofit kit for the existing fixture making it airtight and insulated. Also, but using a long-life fluorescent bulb you reduce power usage and bulb replacements. Cost: about $50 per light.
- Install aerators on faucets.
These screw-on mesh screens break the water stream into droplets, so you have the same rinsing power but use less water. Cost under $5
- Clean your refrigerator coils.
Dust-covered refrigerator coils don't transfer heat efficiently, using more energy to keep your food cool. Use a long-handled brush to clean them underneath of behind your fridge. Cost $10
- Replace weatherstripping.
Check all your doors and windows for seals that have worn out over time, letting in chill winter air and prompting you to crank up the thermostat. Cost: under $20
- Clean green.
You don't need dozens of toxic products under your sink. Soap, baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice can take care of most household cleaning needs. These are the key ingredients in al the "green" household products, but you can find online recipes for mixing your own. To compare the contents of common household cleaners, check out the Household Products Database. Cost: under $10