Climate change is all over the news lately as damaging storms, drought, heat waves, and arctic methane release continue to accelerate. More and more people are realizing that we need to take action, as evidenced by the Peoples’ Climate March— the largest climate march in history–which will take place on September 21 as world leaders gather in NYC for the UN Summit on Climate. (Are you going?)
All this news may leave you wondering what you can do to mitigate climate change. Your thoughts may be turning to solar energy, since you’ve heard that it’s become more efficient and affordable–and there’s a generous government tax credit available.
Think you’re ready for solar on your roof? Not so fast! Before you do anything, schedule an energy audit. The auditor will evaluate your home and tell you exactly what you need to do to make your home more energy efficient. It will also tell you what changes to make first for the most reward. A comprehensive audit even takes your landscaping into consideration.
After the audit, begin make the recommended adjustments to your home. Then—and only then—will you be ready to consider solar panels. Why? Because decreasing your energy usage means you won’t need as many solar panels. And fewer solar panels means less cost to you and a faster payback time.
Here are some steps to consider even before your energy audit:
- Switch to LED light bulbs
- Use a battery operated alarm clock
- Keep your thermostat at 68 in winter and 78 in summer
- Use the dryer for just 10 minutes to soften clothes—finish drying on a rack
- Even better, hang clothes outside to dry
- During the summer, close curtains on east, south and west-facing windows to block the heat of the sun. In the winter, open the curtains on these same windows to let in the sun’s warmth.
- Turn off appliances, lights and equipment when not in use.
- Use power strips. Turn computers and printers off at the power strip.
- Unplug electronic devices and chargers when not in use. Most new electronics use electricity even when turned off.
- Replace filters on your air conditioner and furnace regularly for optimal efficiency.
- Insulate the attic to R49
- Replace old appliances with energy efficient appliances
- Lower water heater temperature to 120°
- If you need a new water heater, get an energy efficient one like the Rheem hybrid
- Walk around your house and observe how you use energy. Are there any unnecessary items plugged in?
The first step seems to be the hardest to take, but once you begin, you’ll find yourself on a roll and feeling good about contributing to the health of our planet. It’s going to take all of us doing our part. Oh, and don’t forget to get on the bus for the Peoples’ Climate March!