Research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that the average American household has a carbon footprint equaling 48 tons per year. A large portion of the average carbon footprint comes from housing, where factors like home construction, electricity, indirect energy use and water waste are factors.
Homeowners looking to make their homes more efficient can use these eco-conscious home improvement tips to lessen their carbon footprint.
Install a new, natural roof
Some roofs are made from toxic materials that can cause serious damage to the environment. If your home’s roof needs an upgrade or needs to be replaced entirely, consider working with a company that keeps the environment in mind. Companies like Champion Home Exteriors use GAF Advanced Protection shingles that are proven to be better for the environment than traditional shingles.
The new shingle technology eliminates the unnecessary waste of natural resources by using less limestone and asphalt. Dark-colored shingles attract the sun, which can make your home hot during the summer months. By choosing cool-colored shingles, you can keep your home more comfortable during the warmer seasons and keep your cooling costs down. Most roofs last up to 20 years. When it’s time to replace, recycle the Advanced Protection shingles. Most old-fashioned shingles end up in a landfill, but GAF supports a recycling program that turns used shingles into new roadways.
Use less water in the bathroom
The bathroom is responsible for 60 percent of a home’s water use, according to the California Urban Water Conservation Council. Greening up the bathroom with low-flush toilets, aerator sinks and a tankless water heater can lessen the amount of water used. Smaller-scale improvements like replacing your standard showerhead with a water-conserving style can save gallons of water every day. The EPA suggests looking for a showerhead with the Water Sense label and reports that the average family can save up to 2,900 gallons of water each year. On a national scale, that’s more than 260 billion gallons annually and more than $2.2 billion in water bill savings.
Insulate and seal your home
Older homes can allow air in and out through hidden cracks or gaps. These holes can create air flow or drafts that are equal to having a window open, which as a result, causes your heating and cooling systems to work harder to make your home comfortable. In most cases the drafts are found around the home’s envelope, which includes the outer walls, windows, ceilings, floors and doors.
This improvement in insulation is a simple, DIY task that can be done without the help of a professional contractor. However, ENERGY STAR suggests hiring an experienced professional if you have mold or rot in your attic, wet or damp insulation that indicates a leaking roof, dryer vents that dispel moist air into the attic, a history of ice dams on your home or unsealed, uninsulated “can” lights. These problems require special care and consideration. For more on how to insulate and seal your home properly, visit EnergyStar.gov.