How To Green Your Home
Five Tips from Stephen and Rebekah Hren
By Gianna Palmer | Online Only | Mar. 1, 2009
The Hrens offer five easy solutions to help reduce your home's fossil-fuel output and lower your energy bill.
Watch your windows.
For a quick fix for drafty windows, the Hrens recommend insulated curtains. These double-layered window dressings keep heat in during the winter and out during the summer. Order them online at cozycurtains.com, or make your own with a favorite fabric. The Hrens also recommend installing storm windows, which are better insulators than double paned windows and also mute outside noise—a bonus for city residents.
Use your green thumb.
A bit of gardening can cool your property and give added privacy. Though the Hrens have 30 different varieties of fruit, nuts, and berries on their property, even one or two plants can go a long way. By placing grape trellises on the south and west side of your house, you will reap the benefits of shade from the leaves, not to mention the sweet reward of fresh fruit.
Ditch your dryer.
Traditional electric dryers often use 6,000 watts—more than even most heat pumps or electric water heaters. Whenever possible, air-dry your laundry using a retractable clothesline or indoor and outdoor drying rack.
Beware of "phantom loads."
Many electronic appliances, including computer monitors and cell phone chargers, use energy even when they're turned off. To fix this dilemma, Rebekah recommends plugging home electronics into power strips and simply turning the strip off when devices are not in use. Problem solved.
Reset your thermostat.
When done correctly (instructions are in the Hrens' book, The Carbon Free Home), turning down the preset temperature of your water heater should take less than hour and requires only a screwdriver. The end result saves energy and money—and still allows you to take hot showers.
Read more tips from Preservation's 2007 Green Issue
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