11 Home Improvements For a Safer and Greener Home

safer and greener home

Do you feel safe in your home? What would you do in the case of a fire, burst pipe or robbery?

Ever wonder about your home’s environmental impact and long to do your part to make your home greener?

You don’t need to make major changes to address these concerns. For example, you can unplug particular devices or add insulation. It never hurts to put more money back into your household budget with energy-efficient savings either. You can create a  safer and greener home with these eleven improvements:

Install Energy Star Products

Look for Energy Star products to install energy-efficient doors and storm windows to lower your reliance on electricity. Storm windows decrease heat loss up to 50 percent, and 20 percent of air infiltration occurs through openings in doors and windows. Energy Star or similar energy-efficient products are also available to replace electronic devices and household appliances.

Unplug and Use Energy Settings

How many devices stay plugged in at all times and often go unused in your home? Unplug items when they aren’t in use, or remove them from countertops and tabletops altogether.

If you need the convenience of keeping the item on, use energy-efficient settings on the device to optimize use and energy savings. Make these changes on your TV, computer, and especially cell phone. Reducing brightness also helps save energy and decreases strain on your eyes.

Seal Ducts

Fix air leaks further by sealing ducts, which often suffer from poor insulation and have holes and gaps. Ducts should be properly connected and straight.

Energy loss of heated air happens when there’s no insulation for ducts, especially if the ducts travel through an attic or crawlspace, which is commonly unheated.

Install Programmable Thermostats

Help the environment and install programmable thermostats to regulate home temperature automatically while you’re asleep, home, or away. Make it a goal to turn back thermostats by 10 percent for a few hours and save more power and money.

Improve Water Heater Functioning

Water heating is the third biggest energy cost to the home. Using less water, adding insulation, or reducing the thermostat will lower reliance on a water heater. Consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient water heater, such as a tankless, on-demand water heater, to lessen your environmental impact.

Check the Washer and Dryer

Don’t let worn and torn rubber hoses burst in the washing machine, which can leak hundreds to thousands of gallons of water onto your floor. If the hoses are over a couple of years old, it’s time to switch to steel-belted hoses.

Water damage is nothing compared to fire risk: Lint can build up in the dryer vent and start a flash fire, which affects up to 15,000 homes every year.

Make Heating and Cooling Upgrades

Heating and cooling make up 43 percent of your home’s utility bill, and with the proper upgrades, insulation, and thermostat adjustments, you can cut your energy savings to heat and cool your home in half.

Install a Security System

Keep your home safe from break-ins and lower insurance rates by installing a security system. Talk to the representative about a central burglar and fire alarm system because many insurance companies will give you a discount. Go a mile farther by adding fire extinguishers, deadbolts, and smoke detectors, if you don’t have them installed already.

Motion detecting lights are also an effective, energy-efficient way to deter robbers and other trespassers.

Protect With Smoke Detectors

Your home needs at least one smoke detector on every level and near sleeping areas, never more than 12 inches from the ceiling. This will optimize the time you have to get out in case of a fire. Don’t forget to form, go over, and post your fire escape plan.

Once installed, test the batteries at least twice a year. An easy way to remember is to check the detectors and test the batteries every time you adjust your clocks for fall and spring. Smoke detectors themselves are good for about ten years.

Install Energy-Efficient Lighting

Lighting takes up 11 percent of the average household energy budget, and using energy-efficient lighting technologies can decrease the amount of energy used in your home by 50 percent or more. Look for lighting fixtures and light bulbs that are Energy Star qualified. CFLs are also eco-friendly and budget-friendly.

Locate Emergency Shut-Off Valves

In case of a crisis, do you know the location of your home’s emergency shut-off valves? There are ones for your electricity, water, and gas.

Valves vary in size and location depending on the home, and knowing the location can save you money and damage in emergencies, not to mention lives. Water valves and gas systems typically have two kinds of shut-off valves — master/main for stopping the flow of water and gas completely, and individual/supply for fixtures and appliances. Water valves must be given a twist sometimes since they get stuck from years of not being used.

If not already indicated, clearly mark each valve in the home for all family members.

A Safer and Greener Home Pays Off!

From installing Energy Star products to knowing the location of your emergency shut-off valves, these eleven tips for home improvement will make you feel safer, improve your environmental impact, and save you money.

Sarah Landrum

After graduating from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR, Sarah moved to Harrisburg to start her career as a Digital Media Specialist and a writer. She later founded Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping young professionals navigate the work world and find happiness and success in their careers.