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Energy efficiency in the homeToday’s “Ask the Expert” column features Charles Furlough, Vice President of Field Operations with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: How can I make my home more energy efficient?

A: Host to Earth Day, April is the perfect time of year to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible, saving you money while also reducing your carbon footprint.

Below are a few steps you can take to keep your home green and your utility bills down.

Replace your old appliances with ENERGY STAR® certified appliances. ENERGY STAR is an internationally recognized standard for ensuring the energy efficiency of consumer products. Since the standard was founded in 1992, devices bearing the ENERGY STAR logo have been built to more stringent energy-conscious specifications. The specific savings vary depending on the product, but ENERGY STAR-compliant devices save on average, anywhere from 20 to 30 percent less energy.

Upgrade or replace heating, cooling and hot water systems. Homeowners stand to lose a considerable chunk of change on heating and cooling bills thanks to inefficient solutions for keeping their home temperate. A modern, high efficiency furnace, for example, can save hundreds of dollars a year in heating bills when replacing an older, inefficient furnace. A leaky faucet that’s not tended to can also waste hundreds of gallons of water a year, especially if it’s hot water that’s lost.

In the market for a new home? Look for homes that are constructed for energy efficiency. Air sealing and insulation, windows rated for thermal performance and even a home’s positioning relative to the sun can all have an impact on a home’s energy efficiency. If you’re in the market for a new home, focusing your search on recently built homes will increase your chances of finding one that conforms to building facets that adhere to green standards.

Look for green building products used throughout the home. Engineered lumber such as truss floor joists that use less wood and products made from recycled materials such as decks made of recovered wood fiber and recycled polyethylene have less of an impact on the environment. New pressure-treated wood is less toxic and is also greener. Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints are another excellent option in the face of more environmentally harmful choices.

When it comes to many of the aforementioned energy efficient alternatives, there will be an upfront cost to make any changes. But in the end, it comes down to a simple return on investment equation. For most green additions, an initial investment can begin to become apparent to your wallet within the year.

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