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There are several simple, effective ways to make your home or building more green and energy efficient this year. By taking time to make a few small changes in your building and lifestyle, you can make it more comfortable to live in and save money, while making a positive impact on the environment.
Switch from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs
Compact fluorescent bulbs are much more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs. They produce the same amount of light while emitting less heat and using less electricity. Just replacing the most used light bulbs in your metal building can greatly reduce energy consumption and save over $100 per year on your power bill. They also last about ten times longer than incandescent bulbs.
Unplug non-essential appliances
Many people don't realize that appliances use electricity even when not in use. Unplug small appliances such as microwaves, toaster ovens, coffee makers, hair dryers, televisions, computers, and phone chargers when you're not using them. Spending a few extra seconds unplugging these appliances can reduce your electricity consumption and save you a great deal of money.
Increase or decrease the thermostat setting
There is no need to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home or office if no one is there. When you're going to be away from your metal building, set your thermostat to at least 78 degrees during the summer or 62 degrees or less during the winter. Doing this could save at least 10% on your power or heating fuel costs each year.
Seal air leaks
Check around doors, windows, power outlets, pipes, and your attic and basement for possible air leaks. If you find any areas where air may be entering or escaping, seal them. Weather stripping and caulk are inexpensive and can be found at any store which sells hardware supplies. Weather stripping should be used around doors, windows, and other moving parts. For stationary items, such as door facings, window trims, baseboards, and moldings, a thin bead of caulk should be used to seal the air leaks. This is a fast and easy do it yourself type of project. There is no need to spend extra money hiring a professional.
Your furnace or air conditioning unit should be checked and tuned up at least once every two years. Professional maintenance costs around $100, but will save 5 to 10% on power and heating fuel costs each year. Filters should also be cleaned or replaced once a month. This will reduce airflow constriction and increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. If your heating or cooling unit is more than ten years old, it should be replaced.
Reduce water flow in showers and sinks
Replace old shower heads with low flow models. Place aerators on your faucets. These devices are inexpensive and easy to install. In most cases, no special tools are required. They simply screw on. They reduce the amount of water used without inhibiting your water pressure. Installing low flow devices could save up to $300 dollars per year on your water bill.
Insulate water heater and pipes
Wrap your water heater in an insulated jacket and cover the pipes leading to and from your water heater with insulation. Insulated jackets cost around $20 dollars. Six feet of pipe insulation can be purchased for around $1. You may also consider keeping the water heater temperature set to 120 degrees. Your water will still be hot enough for showers and dishwashing, but cool enough to prevent scalding. It will also reduce the cost of operating your water heater.
Plant shade trees
Planting trees is advantageous for the environment and for your steel or metal structure. Shade trees protect your structure such as a barn and its animals or retail business and its products from heat during the summer and could lower your cooling costs by up to 25%. Trees also shield it from wind during the winter and could lower heating costs by 20%.
Replace old appliances
Appliances that are more than 10 years old should be replaced with Energy Star appliances. Older appliances use much more water and electricity than newer models. Energy Star approved products are more energy efficient and cost 10 to 30% less to operate than older appliances. You may also want to consider using cold water instead of warm or hot for your laundry. Doing so could help to reduce your power bill even further.
Inspect your insulation
Insulation is your building's main defense against heat and cold. Check the insulation in your attic, basement, crawl spaces, and exterior walls for gaps or damage. Fill in any gaps and replace any damaged sections. Also be sure your building has enough insulation. Insulation is based on the climate in your area and vary by state. Check your local building codes to find out how much insulation is necessary for structures in your area. Learn more about building insulation options.
Replace old windows
Older windows can allow heat and cold to enter and escape from your building. Consider replacing them with new double or triple pane windows. They provide more insulation from the elements and can help eliminate noise from outside. There may also be tax incentives or cost assistance available for replacing your old windows with more energy efficient ones.
Install glass doors on fireplaces
Considerable amounts of hot and cold air can pass through your chimney. Installing a glass door on your fireplace can eliminate drafts, significantly reducing your heating and cooling costs. Maintaining your chimney also increases efficiency. You should have your chimney checked and cleaned every year to ensure it is safe and operating properly.
These are a few easy steps toward having a more comfortable and efficient home or office. If making your building green to help the environment and saving energy and money are among your resolutions for the new year, following these twelve tips will help you reach your goals. The time and effort you put into it will be well spent. Any money you spend making improvements and upgrades to your metal building will return many times over in the amount you will save on power, water, and heating fuel bills.