Most of us have been staying more—or only—at home during this challenging year. The pandemic has us working at home, creating pods with family and a limited number of friends, and rethinking and improving our living spaces and our lives. Here are some eco suggestions for creating an energy-efficient home.
Listen to Your SEER
FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company, Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe’s offers four products, including some April Earth Day savings:
- Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Color Silver Thermostat with Wi-Fi Compatibility (ENERGY STAR Certified)—Ideal for the connected home and smartphone, the wall unit includes a customizable color touchscreen and easy setup, all with automatic energy-saving settings.
“All you need is a Wi-Fi connection or you can use the free app for smartphone/tablet to manage the thermostat remotely and take advantage of savings when away and maintain comfort when home,” says Chris Cassell, Lowe’s senior director of Corporate Sustainability (through Earth Day, $129, normally $169).
- Insulfoam R-1.9 Polystyrene Garage Door Foam Board Insulation (ENERGY STAR Certified)—Small air leaks, out to in and in to out, can cost money.
“It’s available in a wide range of sizes and fits any roof, below-grade and wall-insulation project needs,” he says ($7.82).
- Oxygenics Curve Brushed Nickel 3-Spray Rain Shower Head (WaterSense Certified)—Water and energy are conserved while maximizing performance.
“The installation is fast and easy because no extension arm is required,” Cassell says ($49.98 through Earth Day, normally $59.98).
- Orbit B-Hyve Smart Watering 6-Station Wi-Fi Compatible Indoor/Outdoor Smart Irrigation Timer (WaterSense Certified)—Saving you water and energy, the B-Hyve timer may also be eligible for local rebates. You control the timer using an Android or iOS app from the computer or at the timer box.
“You can also be set up to adjust watering based on local weather to avoid water waste and deliver the right amount of water to your plants,” he says ($99).
For more information on these and other eco-products, visit www.lowes.com.
Phoenix-based Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing suggests two products, one large, the other smaller, but that both deliver energy savings.
First, consider upgrading to a high-efficiency air-conditioning unit with a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) to compliment your energy-efficient home.
“Newer units are more energy-efficient than older units due to the advanced technology,” explains Willy Rodriguez, the company’s operations manager. “Like miles per gallon in a car, the higher the SEER rating, the more you get from each energy dollar.”
The Department of Energy sets the minimum standards geographically; in the Phoenix area, that’s a minimum of 14 SEER on new installations.
“There are many models to choose from, all with different ratings, so it is important to get correct units based on the size of the home. This provides the maximum amount of cooling with the least amount of energy usage.”
Typically, those savings range from $6,000–$10,000. Rodriguez also suggests acquiring an air purification/air quality unit.
“EPA studies have found that Indoor Air Pollutants [IAPs] can be a threat to your health and the environment,” he says.
Products such as the Air Scrubber by Aerus can be installed on the supply side of residential and commercial HVAC systems. This application can remove surface and airborne contaminants including VOCs, odors, dust, pet dander, bacteria, viruses, and other allergens (about $1,500 installed).
For more information, see www.dayandnightair.com.
Bulbs to Pumps
Michael Villegas, product innovation PR specialist at the Atlanta-based home-improvement dealer Home Depot, suggests these energy-efficient home tips and water-savings products:
- EcoSmart 60-Watt LED Lightbulb—In a wide variety of bulb colors and shapes, the EcoSmart light bulb is estimated to cost just $1.08 per year and can save $93 in energy in its lifetime, using up to 85% less energy compared to a standard incandescent bulb.
- KitchenAid 36 Side by Side Refrigerator in Stainless Steel with PrintShield Finish—With an annual energy cost of only $82, the LED-model features the Preserva Food Care System, a cooling component which helps keep food fresh with minimized odors.
- Glacier Bay 10 1.28 GPF High Efficiency Single Flush Round Front All-in-One Toilet in White, with seat—Make every flush more efficient, as toilets typically account for the greatest water use in the home. Meeting the EPA’s WaterSense guidelines, the two-piece, white porcelain finish toilet includes a chair-height bowl for maximum comfort.
For eco-living ideas and tips to creating an energy-efficient home, see www.ecooptions.homedepot.com/green-projects
Tom Crabtree, Phoenix regional manager for Water Heaters Only Inc., suggests a recirculating water pump, which will provide hot water quickly by ensuring a constant flow through the plumbing system. Since 1968, the family-owned and -operated company has replaced residential, commercial, and tankless water heaters.
He explains that they can be installed at the water heater or underneath a sink, typically at the faucet located farthest from the water heater.
“Recirculating pumps really help in situations where it takes several minutes for the hot water to reach a faucet in the home,” he says.
One type of recirculating pump requires a return line installed so that the pump can keep the hot water flowing without using the cold water pipes. The other type of pump uses the plumbing that is already in the home. Manufacturers include Grundfos, Watts, and Taco.
“The eco-savings related to the use of recirculating pumps is the amount of water that can be saved by using a recirculating pump to reduce the amount of water that is wasted while waiting for the water to get hot,” Crabtree says, noting that a recirculating pump can save as many as 12,000–15,000 gallons of water per year (approximately $700–$900, using current plumbing). See www.waterheaters-phoenix.com.
From Bosch, consider the 500 Series compact laundry pair with heat pump drying technology. The ENERGY STAR®-certified Bosch laundry line incorporates this eco-efficient ventless drying solution, featuring a patented SelfCleaning Condenser™ ($1,399).
“‘Being green’ is not new to Bosch. Sustainability has been part of our company’s DNA since Robert Bosch founded the company more than 130 years ago,” says Anja Prescher, Bosch brand director for Irvine, California-based BSH Home Appliances Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Munich, Germany-based BSH Home Appliances Group.
See www.bosch-home.com/US for local dealers and more information.
A Guidebook to Changing Your Paradigms
And, to assist you in creating new holistic paradigms for life at home and away from home, consider The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Guided Journal by Sean Covey, Mango Publishing (2020, ISBN: 978-1642503173). This guided, 52-week workbook is inspired by his father Stephen R. Covey’s 1989 bestseller.
The chapters take you through each of those eight life-altering habits: Be Proactive; Begin with the End in Mind; Put First Things First; Private Victory to Public Victory; Think Win-Win; Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood; Synergize; and Sharpen the Saw.
The goal: embrace relationships, confidence and secure happiness.
The author, Sean, is senior vice president of Innovations and products at FranklinCovey. After quarterbacking the Brigham Young football team to two bowl games, he graduated from BYU with a degree in English and later earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
With the pressures added by the pandemic to everyday ones, consider the lesson for Week 51, as the elder Covey noted, Take Time for Yourself: “This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life—investment in ourselves.” ($18.95, www.mangopublishinggroup.com).