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There always seems to be something in our homes that needs repairing and replacing. That drippy faucet, the window that always seems to let in the cold air, or those light bulbs that constantly seems to burn out are all apart of the problem. Next time you find yourself confronted with these situations, think sustainable. Here's a guide to make your home more sustainable, inside and out.
When making your home sustainable, you’ve got to come at it from every angle. Some people call this securing your thermal envelope, or the shield protecting you from the outdoors. That said, let’s start with the indoors, shall we?
The Doors and Windows
Whether it’s a blizzard outside or a heat wave, one of the most important elements of a sustainable home is controlling indoor climate efficiently. Trust us, we understand that we all want to stay cozy in the winter. This means having proper insulation, ventilation, and control.
Step 1: Plan ahead. Simple, yes, but this is the most important step. This means taking out AC units before winter, getting your supplies as early as possible, and doing all of your checking when you first move in or get the chance to!
Step 2: Check all your doors and windows for drafts, and be mindful of large openings (these will be your biggest foes). Drafts can increase your energy consumption (aka increase your heat or cooling cost) by 10 to 30 percent, and poorly insulated windows can exacerbate that figure.
- Tip: Having trouble finding that draft? Wait until nighttime and use a light to identify cracks an open areas, or use smudge/incense to see the smoke travel. For windows, keep in mind that windows lose heat because of the glass!
Step 3: Measure each door and window that needs some form of insulation. Keep a notepad with these measurements for the hardware store and future reference. Likewise, find those large openings and get a sense of what supplies may be needed.
- Tip: Add 2-3” to each measurement for good measure!
Step 4: Head to the hardware store and pick up weather stripping, shrink-wrap plastic, and spray caulk, as needed. For the large openings, get a roll of insulation that you can pack into it, or grab a few insulation panels. Apply. Use the weather stripping around doors and windows where needed. Similarly, use shrink wrap plastic for the windows.
- Tip: Consider using alternatives to each of the above. For example, if you have lots of unused blankets or drapes, you can pin then up on top of windows, doors, and cracks to insulate without generating waste.
Ideally, that 10-30 percent energy that's been escaping or leeching out of your home will now be caught, which means you'll have to use less energy heating or cooling. Of course, that means you'll be saving 10-30 percent with your power bills, off setting the cost of the supplies within a few months, and seriously paying you back over the course of the year.
What's next in the guide? Let's check out the bedroom.