10 Easy Ways to Go Green This Earth Day

You can lessen your impact on the environment by saving water and energy. Even little changes you make to your home’s air, heating, and plumbing can make a big difference. Whether you choose to install a smart thermostat or low flush toilets, there are many things you can do to make your home more environmentally-friendly.

Did you know you can save money on your utility bill, while also helping the environment? You notice when you’re using more water or energy than normal because your utility bills go up. But with just a few changes to your air, heating, and plumbing, you can make a big impact. Not only does going green make the world a better place, but it also helps you save money. We’ve compiled some of the top ways you can “go green” with your heating, air, and plumbing in honor of Earth Day.

1. Regularly maintain your HVAC unit to ensure efficiency

When a technician comes to your home for a maintenance visit, they’ll clean your unit so it can run smoothly, which also saves energy. Just like when your vacuum bag gets dirty and is inefficiently sucking air to clean the floors, your AC similarly gets clogged with pollen, dust, and debris – making it dirtier and less efficient at circulating the air in your home. In this case, your AC will have to run longer to achieve the same results it once did. You’ll see the difference in your home’s utility bills. Cleaning your AC is similar to changing out your vacuum bag. A well-maintained cooling unit will work better, run more efficiently, and save you money on bills.

HVAC maintenance is recommended twice a year. While your technician is doing your scheduled maintenance, they’ll also inspect your unit for any other damage or leaks that could lead to wasted energy. Did you know that HVAC warranties often require annual maintenance? (once annually for your AC, and once annually for your heater) Additionally, leaving your AC/Heater unchecked can make your unit itself unsafe, especially furnaces, which can develop a carbon monoxide leak.

Routine maintenance of your AC and heating system can lower your utility bills by up to 30%!

2. Change your filters every 30 days

How often do you change your filters? A dirty filter or inefficient filter wastes energy and can even damage your unit. Unless you have a 5-inch media filter, you should be changing out your filter every 30 days. This will help protect your unit and keep it free of dust and debris, so it doesn’t have to work harder than normal to do its job for your home. When you keep up with filter replacements, you can save energy and keep your family more comfortable.

3. Consider a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat can make sure your home stays comfortable in the most energy efficient way possible. With a smart thermostat, you can control your heating, air conditioning, and ventilation from your smartphone or internet-connected device.  A smart thermostat can be pricey upfront, but you may find the additional benefits outweigh the cost overtime.

Smart thermostats are programmable and adjust the home’s temperature throughout the day, based on if the house is occupied or not. This way, you help save energy by reducing temperatures at high-peak times and keeping your unit from running continuously. A smart thermostat system also has the ability to report and track your energy usage over time to your smart devices. This can help keep energy usage down by providing you with tips for energy efficiency, so you can adjust accordingly and save energy.

Easily controlled from any internet-enabled device, a smart thermostat adapts to schedules and patterns within your household. This provides added convenience for homeowners, since the system can be controlled from anywhere. For example, you can adjust the temperature of your home remotely when you are out of the house or on vacation.

Many smart thermostats will also be compatible with voice recognition devices. This means you can control the temperature of your home with only your voice.

4. Install a heat pump to save energy in the winter

If you don’t already have a heat pump, consider having one installed. They use less energy than a furnace, but still keep you warm and cozy at home. They run on electricity instead of gas, so you can save on fuel consumption. And as they don’t rely on fire to create the heat, there’s no worry about creating harmful carbon monoxide in your home or releasing greenhouse fumes into the air.

5. Use a tankless water heater

Tankless water heaters are more efficient than standard water heaters, and provide hot water on demand. They are one of the best things you can purchase to save energy. You can save hundreds of dollars a year on your utility bills with the average tankless water heater. Standard water heaters fill up with water and are designed to keep the water in the reservoir heated at all times. On the other hand, tankless water heaters only heat up the water when you want it to. Most standard water heaters are only 70% efficient, whereas most tankless water heaters are considered to be 95% efficient.

6. Fix plumbing leaks ASAP

Your dripping faucet is more than a minor annoyance. According to the EPA, a leaky faucet that continuously drips once per second wastes over 30,000 gallons in a year. That’s enough water for almost 200 showers! Plus, a leak is often the sign of something bigger.  Even if you have a small leak, get it repaired before it gets worse. You’ll be saving a huge amount of water, and lowering your chances of a major plumbing emergency.

7. Consider how and where you can use less water

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the average person uses about 100 gallons of water each day. This includes every time you flush your toilet, turn on your shower or sink, wash your dishes and clothes, and water the lawn and houseplants. There’s also indirect water usage. That includes the water used to provide electricity for your home and the water used to produce the food you eat. Even making just one ‘green’ change to your home’s plumbing can make a difference on the environment (and your utility bill savings). It can be hard to figure out where you can save on water. After all, you still have to shower, cook, wash the clothes, flush the toilet, and water the yard. Consider the following:

Low Flush Toilets

These days, there are several options for purchasing low-flush toilets. They take less water to flush than old toilets, which can use upwards of 3-8 gallons of water per flush. That’s a lot of water wasted if you consider how many times you (and your family) use the bathroom each day.

Faucet Flow Reducers

A small change you can make to your home’s plumbing that will save a ton of water without you even noticing is the installation of faucet flow reducers. They do exactly what they sound like by reducing your faucet’s flow of water. Your water pressure is only slightly reduced.

8. Use energy and water-efficient appliances

When you consider how often you run your dishwasher and wash your clothes, you’re using a lot of water. Are your appliances efficient?  An energy-efficient appliance will burn less energy and lesson your impact on the environment. Over half of US’s energy usage comes from burning natural gases and coal, which is damaging to the environment. And when you have water-efficient appliances, you lesson the water being pulled from our natural resources, like springs and rivers.  You can do your part to preserve our environment.

9. Install a chlorine removal system

Your home likely uses city water, which has chlorine in it. While chlorine helps ensure you have clean water, it’s degrading for your faucets and toilets, and can cause them to drip and run, wasting a lot of money. Installing a chlorine removal system will filter out chlorine from your water, while better protecting your plumbing.

10. Don’t pour harmful chemicals down the drain

Is that harsh cleaner you’re pouring down the drain healthy for your pipes? No. Are those harsh chemicals good for the environment? No, they can potentially damage your pipes. And if your home is on a concrete slab, this kind of repair can get very expensive.

A good alternative is to use safe drain cleaners instead of harsh chemicals. Liquid drain cleaner can eat away at your pipes, along with whatever is clogging them, causing bigger problems down the road. Instead of picking up a harsh liquid drain cleaner, choose an enzyme-based cleaner, which uses good bacteria cultures and concentrated enzymes to naturally eat away at soap scum, toothpaste, hair, and more. While enzyme-based cleaners often need to sit overnight to work, they’re much safer than conventional drain cleaners on your plumbing system.

Every little change you can make to improve your home’s air, heating, and plumbing can result in a huge difference. Whatever improvements you choose to make, there are countless options to make your home more green.

“Go green” with Chas Roberts

Gain the peace of mind knowing your unit is running efficiently and safely all year long. With more than three generations worth of experience serving the valley, we know everything about your home’s HVAC and plumbing systems. Contact us for a maintenance visit, and learn what energy and water-efficient improvements we can make to your home.