Monday, March 12, 2012

It IS Easy Being Green......

Kermit the Frog has been telling us for years "It's not easy being green." Well, we are here to tell you, Kermit is wrong. As a matter of fact, it IS easy being green! This past week we have been working on simple projects around the house that make living green an easy thing to do! Of course we have been recycling, and cutting back on paper towels and other disposables, which are a few easy ways to be green but we decided to take it a little farther with some DIY projects that make green living easy.

The first project we tackled was to replace our current porch light with a motion sensing light. This is a greener option because it conserves energy and saves on electricity. We would turn on the old light when we left the house so that we could see when we got home after dark, and it stayed on the entire time, wasting electricity. The motion sensing light still runs through the old light switch so that we can still turn it on only when we want it, but it doesn't draw power the entire time because the light only comes on when it senses motion. The nice thing about this light is that you can set the length of time that you want the light shining for, and the sensitivity so that it doesn't come on every time the wind blows!

In this picture, Cody is wiring the new light into the old wiring, so we can use the same switch! (Please pardon the looks of the house, as we just bought it and it is a work-in-progress)

 Here is our new light!! It cost about $50 from Home Depot. It took about 15 minutes to hook up.

The next project we worked on was insulating the water heater and hot water pipes. Did you know you can buy a jacket for your water heater?? Apparently you can! This was a very simple and quick project that has made a noticeable difference in out water temperature already! The insulation of the water heater makes it so that the tank doesn't lose heat and doesn't re-heat the same water as often, wasting energy. The insulation of the pipes allows the water to stay at the maximum temperature all the way to your faucet, thus minimizing the amount of hot water you need. It cost about $35 dollars for the supplies, and took about 2 hours to complete.

This first picture is of the tank in its new jacket! 

 Here are the pipes with their insulation on them! (Again, sorry for the background, our basement is also a work-in-progress, its like a spider sanctuary down there......Erin won't go near it hehe)

The most advanced project that we accomplished this week was hooking cold water up to our washing machine. Before we bought the house, it sat vacant for about 5 years, and was not properly winterized. Because of this, and the fact that Michigan has some harsh temperatures in the winter, the pipe running cold water to the washer burst. We have been washing our clothes in only hot water, which worked, however it wasn't energy efficient. We had to cut out the old section of pipe and solder in a new piece, also we had to replace the valve that connects the pipe to the washer. Cody got to practice his soldering skills a lot this week! It cost about $50 and took about 5 hours to complete. This will save us money in the long run because we won't be using so much hot water, and as per Erin's mom, it is better to wash your dark clothes in cold water anyways! This project will make our lives so much greener because of the energy it preserves, because as we all know, laundry is a never ending cycle!

The new section of pipe soldered into place.

And finally the easiest change we have made is using power strips(surge protectors) around the house. There is a phenomenon called Phantom Loading (dun dun dun), which means that our electronics such as televisions, radios, dvd players, microwaves, etc. draw power even when we think they are off. These are known as "energy vampires," basically anything with a stand-by setting is still drawing electricity even when it is shut off. All the lights and clocks that are still going on these electronics use power, and although it doesn't seem like a lot, it is like a dripping faucet and when it is going all the time, it really adds up. A large portion of a homes energy usage is due to phantom loading(depending on where you look, the statistic range from 6 to 60 percent, but it obviously varies per home). By plugging your electronics into a power strip you can just flip the switch when you are not using them and stop the energy vampires. I mean, do we really need 3 clocks in the kitchen?

These projects serve many purposes, including raising the value of our home, saving us money when it comes to the electric bill, and most importantly making our home more energy efficient!

SO, regardless of what Kermit may tell us, it really IS easy being green!

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