Every day, new and exciting technology breakthroughs make it easier for the average person to reduce their carbon footprint. As greener options become readily available and affordable, it’s only a matter of time before the world relies on these renewable resources instead of fossil fuels.
You don’t have to wait for that future to see the change in your home now. Here’s a list of current technologies that will help to turn your home into a green living space today.
Fossil fuels are a finite energy source. While it’s unclear as to when our precious fuel sources will be depleted, some projections say we could run out of fossil fuels in the next 50 years. If supply slowly diminishes and our demand increases, we can expect prices to skyrocket.
Solar panel technology more efficient now than ever, and even locations that don’t receive much sunlight — such as Alaska, where sunlight is scarce through the winter months — can take advantage of solar power stored in state-of-the-art battery systems. By converting your home to run mostly on solar power, you’ll decrease your dependency on traditional energy sources and save money every month.
Another renewable and clean energy source that will help reduce your carbon footprint come from the ground. Geothermal energy comes from cycling fluid beneath the earth’s surface. The temperature of the Earth is steady in the first 20 feet — this stability in temperature means it you can tap into it to heat and cool your home, and potentially even your water supply.
There are several types of pump systems, suited for various locations. Estimates predict you would see energy savings financially in the first 5-10 years of the system. You might even be eligible for a tax credit if you go this route.
Air compressors are extremely handy for a wide variety of tasks, from powering tools in your personal workshop or simply keeping your car tires filled. Air compressors are also much safer to have in your home than gas or oil-powered equipment.
The cost of generating the pressurized air in the compressor can be high. However, to counter these costs, you can recover up to 94% of a compressor system’s input power through space heating by having your generator designed to transfer the heat collected to other parts of your home or your water supply.
Going green can be taken literally sometimes. Green, or “living” roofs covered with vegetation and can help with water waste, air quality, and the Urban Heat Island effect. While becoming very popular in cities, green roofs are still beneficial for suburban homes. The insulation provided by a green roof helps raise energy efficiency, helps with fire retardation and can increase your home’s property value.
An improperly insulated home is a recipe for disaster when it comes to energy bills. Having proper insulation installed doesn’t mean you need to settle for the standard pink fiberglass. Many eco-friendly alternatives that are just as efficient in keeping your house nice and cozy in the winter.
Consider recycled sources that use shredded denim, wool or even hemp for your insulation. These new materials give you options over harmful materials that are bad for the environment and sometimes even your health.
Investing in energy-efficient windows is crucial for maintaining your home’s temperature, but there are other benefits too. They also reduce condensation and fading, saving your upholstery and artwork. By installing more of these highly efficient windows, you’ll save money and waste less energy. If you choose to renovate your home with larger windows, you’ll allow more natural light into your home — thereby decreasing your lighting bills. Combining these options reduces your carbon footprint two-fold.
Energy Star HVAC and Appliances
When was the last time you updated your HVAC? If you can’t answer that question, you should consider upgrading your system. When properly installed and maintained, Energy Star HVAC units are highly efficient — they can save up to 20% on your heating and cooling costs — and can be controlled by programmable thermostats to help regulate your home’s temperature while you’re away.
Additionally, Energy Star appliances — dishwashers, refrigerators, washers and dryers are just a few of the appliances you can purchase with Energy Star labels — reduces your carbon footprint by reducing the amount of energy required you need to keep your household running smoothly. It will also lower your monthly bills. The Government’s Energy Star program offers greener options for all your lighting and electronic devices too, including useful tips on how to get the most out of your game console’s battery life.
Nanotechnology may still sound like something from science fiction, but in fact, nanotech has many current applications that you can utilize in your home. Using sealants and paints that contain nanoparticles could protect your home from bacteria growth. Air purifiers and stain removers also contain these helpful nanoparticles.
You can also double the efficiency of your windows by painting a layer of a polymer-based coating recently invented by Berkeley Lab scientists. This cheap but highly effective layer is a very cost-effective solution that reflects much of the infrared rays that would otherwise overheat your home and cost you more to cool.
Taking the first step towards reducing your home’s carbon footprint is to research your home’s needs and its energy efficiency shortcomings. There are many options out there to get started, and sometimes even government grants available for those choosing to make the change. Whatever your reason for updating your home, know that you’ll be doing the world a favor for tapping into less of its non-renewable resources and your wallet a favor when it’s time to pay your bills.