Yesterday I received an email forwarded to me from a co-worker. The email itself was a request from a journalist seeking information on a variety of topics related to eco-friendly housing from both an owner and builder perspective. Some of the questions of interest to me included “Does a small budget limit going green or can a little go a long way?” and “Where is the overlap between being cost effective and going green?”

Both questions are relevant on a variety of levels because they touch on the realistic nature of what we can versus cannot (or just do not want) to do.  In my young life, I do not think I can recall a time in which watching what you spent meant so much. “Going green” also seems to have an aura of high cost about it, as in you need to invest great deals of money to see meaningful results, and that is something I find difficult to grasp. While large-scale investments into making “green” changes to your home can certainly yield great improvements, you should not have to feel that only large investments can make a difference.

To address the first question I quoted, here is a small list of things you can do to be more “green” throughout your home if you have a relatively small budget, some of which may not actually require any initial investment at all:

1. Lighting – I know this one is likely enunciated more than enough, but it really is a simple change that you can phase in slowly. The next time you go to the grocery store and need light bulbs, buy one or two CLFs and just use them as needed. I can almost guarantee you that the original ones will still be working by the time most of your lights are changed over.

2. Shower Heads and Faucets – While perhaps not as noticeable of a change, water efficient facets and showerheads are a great way to conserve natural resources (and what is not green about that?). Additionally, if you have to pay for your water, you will likely see a nice reduction in your bills within a month or two of their installation.

3. Windows – Did you know that double hung windows initially were designed to have both the top and bottom sashes open at once? Cooler air would come in through the lower portion of the window while hot, stagnant air would leave through the upper sash.

4. Oven – Turn off the oven a few minutes before your meal or treats are finished. This will allow you to both save energy and put the residual heat from the oven to use. (In addition, if you are like me, it may help prevent burning those cookies!)

5. Furnace Filter – Be mindful and change your furnace filter regularly. A dirty, ill-managed furnace filter can be a health hazard to your home as well as overburden your furnace, making it work harder for a longer period.

While hardly the only ways to promote an eco-friendly home, each of the above items, more than anything, only require that you be both mindful and patient. Green living is more about making creative use of what you already have rather than performing multi-hundred or thousand dollar upgrades. In my next entry, I will be looking over the second question I quoted. Take care and enjoy your weekend.

Nathan Christensen

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