Want to save energy, improve your living conditions, help the Earth, and qualify for tax credits? Go Green! “Going Green” covers two significant areas; the first is reducing energy usage, which can save money in the short term, and the Earth in a long time by conserving natural resources; the second is improving the quality of life, both in the home and in the environment. How can this be accomplished? Some will be just informational, and some are easily implemented in your everyday life and can have an immediate impact.

Use Renewable Energy and Rapidly Renewable Materials:

Renewable energy comes from self-renewing sources, such as the sun or wind, or managed with planned renewal upon us, such as managed forests. These sources are generally not depleted when used responsibly or are organized to recreate when used carefully.

Solar-based – solar panels & photovoltaic cells can be used to create your energy. The energy gained and the time required to recuperate the costs must still be carefully balanced.

Geothermal – systems use the temperature below the Earth’s surface to heat or cool a liquid circulated through it. Geothermal energy systems are becoming used to heat commercial as well as residential buildings. The U.S. Dept. of Energy says that almost everywhere, the upper 10 feet of the Earth’s surface maintains a nearly constant temperature between 50 and 60º (10 and 16ºC). In winter, heat from the relatively warmer bottom goes through the heat exchanger into the house. In summer, hot air from home is pulled through the heat exchanger into the somewhat more excellent ground. The heat removed during the summer can be used as no-cost energy to heat water. For more information, please visit the U.S. Dept. of Energy: Geothermal Basics at the U.S. Dept. of Energy.

Independent organizations develop good forest management standards, and independent auditors issue certificates to forest operations that comply with those standards.” Issues from the size of the clear-cuts to the length of time between harvests are determined to protect the viability of a forest. Several different organizations certify forest products, and there are some differences in forest management standards. Still, all are looking to prevent stripping the trees from the land and destroying the environment.

Use Energy Efficient Products:

For more info, please visit www.energystar.gov. Recommendations from the Energy Star program include:

ENERGY STAR estimates that a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs or up to 10% on their annual energy bill by sealing and insulating. New energy-efficient window coatings and installations can work with the sun to block or allow heat to pass through, prevent drafts, and increase window maintenance. Films are also available on existing windows where heat from the sun is a significant issue.

Lighting: Use energy-efficient lightbulbs. A low-energy lightbulb used for the same period only has 11 kilograms of CO2 a year. Multiply the difference by the number of lightbulbs in your house, and you can see the difference both in Carbon Dioxide production and energy used.

ENERGY STAR qualified appliances to incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. Look for energy-efficient refrigerators, clothes washers, room air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and dishwashers.

New plumbing fixtures and showerheads are designed to perform the same way and give the same satisfaction with significantly lower water use.

Passive Energy Use

Landscaping Techniques

Using native plants usually requires less water and maintenance with higher survival rates.

You don’t have to pave everything on site. Paving large areas as development has increased in cities and suburbs (making surfaces impervious) means that rainwater has to run off and collect in larger pools without the ability to be absorbed by the ground. Inadequate drainage measures to account for these increased amounts of water have risen dramatically flooding problems in many parts of the country as large quantities of water. Allowing rainwater to penetrate the ground, or collecting it for reuse in landscaping, or designing roof gardens that can absorb water instead of having it run off hard surfaces is highly beneficial in every instance. If you need to pave, create a pond or dry stream bed in your yard, accommodating water from a storm and being attractive in all seasons. There are now paving materials with fine holes built into them, so that water can seep through and be absorbed by the ground. Rain barrels from gutters collect water used for gardens, car washing, and other outdoor uses.

Deciduous trees, if appropriately oriented, are excellent for shielding a house from the sun during the summer and allowing the sun’s warmth to come in during the winter. Plants can prevent runoff and erosion from slopes during rainstorms, and certain types of trees, such as willows, really like water and are good in wet situations, although shallow-rooted and can creep around pipes if planted too close. If you’re lucky enough to have a damp area, think about plants typically used in water gardening, which will absorb water and provide beauty.

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