Kendra Pierre-Louis is a Justmeans staff writer with an interest in creating healthier, more sustainable society. She's particularly interested in the intersection of business, sustainability and economics. How can we structure an economic system that allows business to behave better? She has a M.A. in Sustainable Development from the SIT Graduate Institute and a B.A. in Economics from Cornell Uni...
Easy Ways to Green Your Home
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the building sector comprises roughly half of all the green house gas emissions released in the US, with roughly 25% of that coming from on site use of fossil fuels. For most of us who aren't in a position to either build a home from the ground up, or engage in costly retrofits that though may save money in the long run do not fit into our budget in the short-term, it can often seem like there isn't much we can do to reduce the carbon footprint of our homes.
And while it's true that short of swapping ones home for a tumbleweed tiny home, most of us would be hard pressed to drastically slash our carbon emissions in short order, there are small steps we can take right now to reduce our carbon load.
Take for example the humble roof. Its black (at least in the US) color attracts heat in the summer months, forcing those of us in warmer climates to pump the air conditioningin order to overcome this solar heat gain. In fact, 15-30% of air conditioning costs go simply to overcoming the heat brought in by black roofs.
Yet there is a simple way of reducing this effect.
Simply paint your roof white. White roofs, because they reflect the sun's rays, reduce building heat-gain substantially. Whereas a black roof can become as much as 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) hotter than surrounding air temperatures, white roofs increase only a mere 10-25 degrees Fahrenheit (5-14 degrees) Celsius above daily ambient temperature. This isn't an intellectual exercise either - New York City Utility ConEdison found that painting the roof of one of its facilities white greatly reduced electrical use. Even Wal-Mart's gotten into the act - painting the roof of its Las Vegas facility white.
Similarly, purchasing a water heater insulator - one with an insulating value of at least R-8 at a cost of 10-20 dollars - can shave roughly 10% off of one's monthly energy usage. Adding a bottom board of rigid insulation further reduces energy use up to another 10%.
Finally, inexpensive, easy to install low-flow shower heads can reduce home water consumption and energy costs by as much as fifty percent without sacrificing water pressure.
There you have it - three cheap, easy, ways of greening your home. What are you waiting for? Hop to it.
Photo Credit:Walmart Stores