Many people imagine a ‘green home’ to be some science fiction concept—an aerodynamic, chrome house fueled by wind and sun, levitating in the air. The reality of running a green household is much simpler and more practical. Before you even think about upgrading to solar panels, take a practice run consolidating your current energy expenses. The average home uses far more energy than the occupants need and it’s precisely this level of excess that, added up all over the country, that leads to trouble. Start by taking baby steps. Here’s how to get the ball rolling:

Know how much energy you use

All too often people recoil from the idea of energy efficiency because they think it will be too time-consuming and difficult for them. But with newer home automation services like Vivint, keeping tabs on your thermostat and energy appliances doesn’t have to be a mysterious guessing game. It’s possible to know exactly how much energy your home is producing during the course of a day. Simply taking this action toward quantifying your consumption is the first step toward making your home ‘green’.

Replace your light bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs lead to a trillion additional pounds of CO2 emissions in the United States alone. Switching to compact fluorescent bulbs will reduce your emissions and save you money. CFL bulbs emit the same amount of light as incandescents, but use anywhere from a third to a fifth of the energy. Because they contain mercury, you’ll want to look into responsible ways of disposing them.

Take control of your thermostats

Another way to save money AND reduce your energy consumption is to program your thermostats so that when you’re not home or you’re sleeping the temperature will be adjusted appropriately. During warmer seasons, your thermostat should be at some where around 78 degrees F, whereas in the colder winter seasons it should be closer to 62. As stated above, there are a number of services now which allow you to control your thermostat remotely.

These are just the first steps towards a future of green homes. In time, you’ll want to take other actions, liking plugging air leaks, tuning up your HVAC and water heater, and using low-VOC products. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor will your energy-efficient new ‘green home’. Simply being aware of the problem is a big first step. Now you’ve got to move forward and take practical steps toward running a more sustainable home.

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