Earth Day and Energy-Efficiency Tips

Visit the EPA website for Earth Day events, and consider a few tips to make your home more energy efficient year-round.

A young girl protects the planet.

A young girl protects the planet.

iStockphoto.com/Bart Coenders

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Pearl River, New Jersey — Most people carefully watch their time and money, making sure neither are wasted on unnecessary activities or expenses. With Earth Day on April 22 and in an effort to be more green, why not also consider how your home’s energy is used and how to prevent it from being wasted.

Don’t forget to check out the event map to attend an Earth Day event or volunteer at such an event. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list and more on the agency’s Earth Day website.

These energy-saving tips come from Sally Morse, director of creative services for Hunter Douglas, a leader in custom window fashions, and are designed to help conserve your home’s resources and your pocketbook as well.

1. Go Green, Literally 

Saving energy in your home isn’t entirely based on adjustments made in the home but also changing what is outside of it. To cut down on utility bills, get a green thumb and strategically update your landscaping. A natural and beautiful addition, plant deciduous trees on the south and east sides of the house and evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and west to provide shade and act as a windbreaker. Well-positioned landscaping can save up to 25 percent of your home's energy a typical household uses for heating and cooling according to the world-renowned Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

2. Insulate Common Energy-Loss Areas  

The fastest and most cost-effective way to reduce energy dollars is to seal air leaks. Find these energy vacuums by holding a lit incense stick on a breezy day near doors, fixtures and windows. If the smoke travels toward the areas rather than vertically, you’ve found a leak. Once identified, simply seal holes by using caulk, spray foam or weather strips. Common leaks are attic entrances, dropped ceilings, recessed lights, water and furnace flues, ducts, door frames, chimneys, outlets and switches and plumbing and utility fixtures. Also, be sure to remove air-conditioning units in the fall and winter or use an insulated jacket on the exterior as these appliances invite drafts. 

3. Watch the Windows 

Windows can account for up to 25 percent of utility bills by leaking heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. For a functional and fashionable addition to the home to help prevent this, opt for energy efficient shades. Certain shades can reduce solar heat gain through windows by up to 80 percent in the summer and reduce heat loss through windows by up to 40 percent in winter.

4. All-Star Accessories and Appliances 

When purchasing items that consume energy – everything from light bulbs to appliances – look for the ENERGY STAR® label. This label ensures you are purchasing an item that will help save you money and help protect the environment.

5. Clean and Green 

Being clean can go a long way when it comes to your home’s energy efficiency. By simply keeping certain appliances in the best working condition you can save on energy costs. Start by servicing and cleaning your gas or oil furnace at least once a year and change or clear out furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Wipe or replace filters on air conditioners monthly or as recommended and do the same with warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed. Also, clean the lint screen in the laundry dryer after every load to increase air circulation and help prevent fire hazards.

6. Adjust When Away and By Time of Day 

Cut down on utility bills while you’re away by investing in a programmable thermostat that lets you set temperatures by time of day. To adjust the window coverings for optimal performance, Hunter Douglas makes a Solar Energy Sensor that mounts directly to the window pane to control motorized window fashions. It’s an easy way to conserve energy without your having to lift a finger. In “Summer” mode, the sensor will lower shades when the outside temperature is too hot to prevent heat from coming into the room. In “Winter” mode, the sensor raises the shades at the appropriate time to allow solar energy into the room for warmth and closes the shades automatically when the temperature outdoors drops, keeping the warm air inside.

Try these energy-efficiency tips to help save on utility bills while making your home more comfortable.

Hunter Douglas Inc., headquartered in Pearl River, New York, is a leading manufacturer and marketer of custom window fashions in North America and a major manufacturer of architectural products. The company is a national sponsor of Habitat for Humanity, covering windows in every Habitat home built in the United States and Canada. 

For more information, call 800-274-2985 or visit the website.