Ten Tips For A Smart Eco Friendly Home ~ Thank you to Direct Energy for sponsoring today’s post and encouraging me to share Ten Tips For A Smart Eco Friendly Home (#DEsmarthome). As always, opinions expressed are 100% my own.
We are just entering Spring but so far it seems that winter is still winning. As I sit writing this post the snow is still falling outside even though we’re into the month of April. One thing I am thankful for though is that even though it’s chilly outdoors, we have several ways in our home that make it a smart and eco friendly home where at least we are very comfortable indoors while saving time and energy costs.
I thought it would be fun to take you on a home tour to share with you ten tips for a smart eco friendly home. Some of the ideas were included in the design of the house when it was built and some were added afterwards to make our home even more eco friendly and smart. Intentional choices were made each time to not only contribute our share of taking care of our Earth by being more eco friendly but it also is a lot more friendly on our short term and long term home energy costs.
I have included photographs in this home tour to give you specific examples. But I want to warn you that sometimes what makes a home eco friendly and smart is what goes on behind the scenes. As you will see, some of the photographs are pretty and part of the home décor and some of the photographs are practical and part of the home maintenance.
Come along on this home tour where I share…
10 Tips For A Smart Eco Friendly Home
We are going to bypass the kitchen for now and head downstairs to the lower level…
1. Let’s start in the basement in the furnace room. This is where we have two natural gas furnaces. One furnace takes care of the heat on the upper level and the second furnace provides the main heat on the main level. These are big ticket items that are costly to replace and where I live we need them working when it gets cold outdoors. There are small ways we can help make these furnaces stay in top functioning condition. One thing we do is have them inspected once a year by a heating/natural gas service expert. I like to have it done in the summer after all signs of cold weather are gone just to make sure the furnaces are ready for the next winter season. A second small thing that we do is make sure we are replacing the filters regularly. It is really important to make sure no build up of debris and dust is clogging the filter so the heated air can flow through easily. Clogged filters raise energy costs. They need to be replaced every 1-3 months depending on how much the furnaces are working. I just buy the basic ones but I will stock up so I never run out. I also input into my Smartphone calendar a reminder at the end of each month to check and if need be replace the furnace filters. Smart Thermostats will also send out reminders but you have to actually make the change. I’ll give more information about these very smart energy devices at the end of this article!
2. Now on the other side of the basement we have a second utility room where there are two water heaters heated by natural gas. One heater is for the water use in the home and the second heater has a very special role. It provides the warm water for the heated floor that runs throughout the basement. I have to tell you that the heat generated from this technology is truly divine. It’s so nice to go downstairs and walk on a toasty warm floor. This is also a very smart eco friendly choice because heat rises. This heat also helps heat the rest of the house, which in turn reduces how much the furnaces have to work. When it’s warm outdoors and we don’t need to heat the basement, we just turn off the floor and it really saves energy costs.
3. I also have a small laundry room in the basement where we have a new and more efficient Energy Star® front-loading washer and dryer. The front-loading washer uses less water and energy than a top-loading washer. I also make a point of washing most of the loads with cold water, avoid running a load during peak times and I love that you only have to use a tablespoon of laundry detergent to get the job done. We don’t use the dryer that often because we hang dry most of our clothes. We have a ‘drying station’ for just that task. Not only does reducing how much you use the dryer easier on your budget, I also feel hang drying clothes is a lot easier on the fabric. The clothes just seem to keep their colour and last longer. I share how I only use cold water when I wash new bedding in How To Take Care Of Brand New Bed Sheets.
4. Let’s continue the home tour and I’ll take you up to the main floor now. This is our living room where we spend most of our time. I love this natural gas fireplace. We have it turned on many times during the cold weather. We can control the flame size and how much heat it generates. What makes it even more eco friendly is that it has a fan installed that sends out the heat into the living room. This too reduces the amount the two furnaces have to work. I also have this fireplace inspected once a year when the furnaces are being checked out.
5. This house also takes advantage of a natural source of light and heat and that’s the sun! Our main living area faces direct south and has huge picture windows. When it is sunny outdoors, which happens, a lot in our chilly winters we make a point of letting the sunlight in. It’s amazing how warm the kitchen and living room get just by doing this!
6. We do get a problem where sometimes the house gets too warm even though it’s freezing outdoors just from the sunshine. The window coverings in the basement and the main floor are semi-opaque pleated shades that still allow some of the light and heat to come through. These get pulled down when the sun goes down just to help keep things toasty inside in the winter and to block the heat in the summer just to help keep things cool.
7. In the kitchen we have a gas stove with an electric ignition that saves how much gas we use because the pilot light doesn’t have to be left on all of the time. Did you know that a gas oven is 50% more energy efficient than the electric oven?
It is also a convection oven that reduces roasting and baking times. My husband loves this gas stove when he cooks his eggs on the weekend. It fires up quickly, maintains its heat and is fabulous for making perfect poached eggs every time!
8. Let’s go up stairs to the top floor now! But before we do I want to show another smart but simple eco friendly tip and that is the big fan that helps move the air in this high open area. We can just control it with a switch done below and it moves the hot air downwards in the winter and we readjust it to move the air around to help keep things cool in the summer.
9. All of the bedrooms upstairs have also pleated shades but these are a little different. They are opaque and are designed with a foil-like insulating material that not only blocks out the light so we can sleep in darkness but also acts as an insulator against the cold. I have also equipped every bed with lots of decorative bedding. I love the look of bedscaping but it is also smart to snuggle into bed under layers of bedcovers rather than up the house temperature when you are sleeping. Another way we save some energy is by programming our nighttime temperatures to be lower than the daytime temperatures. It is so easy to do and I explain that in the final tip!
10. I have saved the best and smartest tip for last for a smart eco friendly home. This is installing and making use of Smart Thermostats. Smart Thermostats offer you climate control with the convenience of programming from home and away from home. Talk about a smart way to help save you time as well as cut your energy consumption and costs! We have two in our home since we have two furnaces.
So these are my ten tips for a smart eco friendly home that we use and I have to say they really work! But I also have to say there are so many more and simple things that we can learn and do.
For my Canadian readers you will want to checkout the Direct Energy Canada Facebook Page and my US readers will want to check out the Direct Energy US Facebook Page for more information and tips. I learned some new things I can do that I didn’t know before!
Direct Energy is committed to helping customers build a smarter home, and thus cut down on their energy usage… saving the customer time and money. For communities in Alberta they offer the Direct Energy Comfort & Control Plan. It is a 5-year dual plan that includes a fixed rate for your Alberta electricity (which won’t change for 5 years!) and flex-through Alberta natural gas with the security of a winter cap plus a Nest Learning Thermostat™ at no additional cost to you.
For communities in the US, your offer is the Direct Energy Meridian Savings Plan. With this plan you get a competitively priced fixed energy charge, up to three Honeywell Smart Thermostats, plus a smartphone app that allows you to control your thermostat anytime, anywhere.
Hope I have informed and inspired you with some new tips! I would love to learn what tips you have for a smart eco friendly home!