Beat Cooling Costs #3: Green Is In!

Green decorating, energy efficiency, home energy, energy costs, energy bills, decor, heating, cooling, costs, summer, the woodlands, real estate, home buying, home sellingMy last post in this series on home energy efficiency has probably the most fun topic — decorating. Making small repairs or big fixes to your home is satisfying when you see your energy bill drop, but getting to redecorate your home AND make a difference in energy costs? Brilliant, if you ask me. And it all improves the value of your home.

And as a bonus, I’ve found a lot of tips on decorating using materials that are great for the environment and leave less of an impact, so you can lower your bills and feel better about your carbon footprint.

Window Coverings

The way you cover your windows can drastically reduce lost air flow and heat intake in your home. There are tons of options, so you can make a change whether you want to totally redecorate or just give your home a little facelift.

Blinds are a great way to prevent summer heat from seeping in through windows. Full blinds act as reflectors to sun rays, bouncing the heat back out rather than letting it come inside. They can be very efficient at blocking outside heat, but do little to reduce air flow around windows and prevent air-conditioning loss.

Curtains and shades are another great way to cover your windows. Curtains are classic–beautiful texture and flexible, because you can change out fabrics with your mood. And if you strategically position your curtain rods to be snug against your wall, you can reduce the draft that flows around the edges of the material. All it takes is getting a rod that has minimal width. You can also seal them totally for maximum efficiency, using velcro or another material along the edges and bottom.

Shades are an extremely efficient option, because you can find materials specifically designed to block heat and insulate a room. Many curtains also come in “thermal” material designed to block heat and keep in cool air.

Draft Stoppers

This somewhat unconventional decorating technique might be geared more towards the crafty home-improvers, but can really make a difference. When you are inspecting your home for inefficient spots, you might find a lot of drafts under your doors letting your expensive air loose. Rather than installing a bland, white piece of plastic to block this air, you could make your own draft stopper with fun fabric and some dry beans. Here is a cool tutorial on DIY draft stoppers that you can integrate into your home decor!

Candlelight – Not just for Romance

Have you considered transferring that relaxing, serene atmosphere of your bubble bath into your whole house? Turns out, you can use candles other times than when the power goes out. Strategically placed tea lights and larger candles can illuminate a room in impressive ways. So when you mellow down in the evenings, before you turn on all of your lamps consider a few candles–no electricity, all the mood.

Kitchen Appliances

Considering an upgrade? Definitely look for energy efficient options. Upgraded appliances are one of the greatest ways to improve the desirability of your home. And why wait until you’re moving to see the impact on your energy bills? Most major brands offer energy efficient options in sleek, modern looks that make for a win-win home improvement decision.

The same goes for washer/dryers. Always wanted the laundry room of your dreams? Installing a new washer and/or dryer is the perfect impetus to setting up the greatest laundry station of all time. Here‘s a great list of tips on organizing a laundry space from HGTV.

Green Is Totally In

When making any changes in decor, you can always take the extra minute to consider the materials you’re using and where they come from. Here’s a quick list of important sustainable decorating tips:

  • Use sustainable wood, like bamboo, for cabinets and flooring. This wood will replenish itself, whereas that 100-year-old oak tree will be gone forever.
  • Consider alternative flooring, like cork or recycled glass and porcelain.
  • Think about the company you’re purchasing from… are you paying to have a product shipped from over 500 miles away, when you could buy locally and avoid that use of energy?
  • Always look for used first. It’s always sustainable to reuse hardware or furniture rather than purchasing new, plus antiques are classic and a great decorating choice. Refinishing someone’s tossed furniture can bring a whole new look without letting those materials be left to waste. These creative and thoughtful touches also add a personal tone to your decor that is impossible to replicate with new furniture.

Bonus – Green Your Yard!

With strategic landscaping you can save big on your home energy. Large trees can both block sunlight and reduce wind, protecting throughout the year. Here is a comprehensive site on landscaping efficiency for any climate or goal.

So here ends my three-blog-long expository on home energy efficiency. Any of these tips can make a difference to your energy bill, but going through a comprehensive audit and making changes can also alter your attitude towards energy use. You’ll never fully realize the amount of energy you could save until you check, and making these changes could not only lower your bills but contribute to a larger effort to reduce energy use as a society and make an important difference in our impact on the environment.

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  1. Courtney, With interest rates crazy low, we were thinking about refinancing and borrowing a little more to update our kitchen..better kitchen..lower payment. Is is worth the cost, energy savings and resell value, to replace our electric stove with a gas stove?

  2. Skip,

    I’m not certain if it is a regional preference, but in our area, gas cooking is generally always preferred to electric. When considering resale value, I would think about who your likely buyer is – based on your neighborhood, property value (asking price) – to help determine whether it is worth the cost. In other words, higher end homes usually feature gourmet kitchens and gas cooking – and buyers of those homes expect that feature. At the opposite end of the spectrum, I’m not sure buyers are as discerning in that regard. However, at all price ranges, I have recognized that buyers are paying more attention to features that result in lower utility bills. Of course, the answer is also dependent upon the cost to do the conversion (whether plumbing is required) as a percentage of the total cost of the kitchen update – and compared to the overall value of your home.

    Good luck with your project!


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