Ways to lower the carbon footprint of your household include projects or improvements that you can undertake to make your household greener. Besides the installation of solar panels and wind turbines, an easier way will be to purchase green alternatives as opposed to the conventional models.
These green alternatives are often certified under initiatives like the Energy Star and WaterSense programs that were launched by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in conjunction with merchants.
Energy Star certified
Energy Star certified household products include electrical appliances which help consumers to save on utility bills by using lesser amount of water or electricity yet able to fulfil their daily requirements. At the same time, usage of lesser power or water also allows the lowering of one’s carbon footprint.
Installation of these green household products also entitles consumers to tax credits which allows them to earn back some money to cover the possible higher initial costs for such product. For easy referencing, these appliances are divided into two main types; major appliances like the washing machines, refrigerators; small appliances include programmable thermostats, switches, tankless water heaters and dehumidifiers. Within these appliances, there are specific sets of criteria that the units have to fulfil before being certified under those programs.
A programmable thermostat is a great green DIY project that one can embark on as an initial step in building a green home. It gives you the flexibility of having a heating /or cooling schedule that is best catered for your household and minimises the wastage of excessive electricity.
As stipulated in the Energy Star program, there are several criteria that are expected of which summarised in our section on programmable thermostats. We have also included unbiased product reviews on some models of programmable thermostats for interested consumers.
Tankless Water Heaters
For tankless water heaters, there are several criteria under the Energy Star program that a tankless water heater model has to fulfill before it can be certified. Even though a tankless water heater is good for your home, but there are also several points that you have to consider before getting one as it might not suitable for everyone.
In view of this, we have provided a summary of points that you should consider before buying a tankless water heater on top of the Energy Star specifications. There is also a buying guide compiled by Green Energy Helps to help consumers to take into account the specifications that one should consider before purchasing a tankless water heater. Unbiased reviews on some popular models like the Eccotemp L5, and Rinnai R75LSi are also covered for interested consumers.
Dehumidifiers that meet the Energy Star criteria possess more efficient refrigeration coils, compressors, and fans which allow them to use 15% less energy in removal of moisture as compared to a similarly sized conventional unit. This amount of energy saved annually by such a dehumidifier is sufficient to power an Energy Star refrigerator for 4 months.
For a dehumidifier to be Energy Star certified, its energy efficiency measured in litres of water removed per kilowatt-hour (L/kWh) of energy consumed has to range from ≥1.20 to ≥1.80 L/kWh for standard capacity units to ≥2.50 L/kWh for high capacity units. We have provided unbiased reviews on such models that were popular among consumers like the Frigidaire 50 Pint dehumidifier and 70 Pint dehumidifier for interested consumers.
Washing machines are available in the market in two main modes – front loaders or top loaders. Energy Star models of these two types of washing machines are also available for consumers to consider instead of the conventional models.
Green Energy Helps has a section on washing machines that provide information to consumers on what make up a Energy Star model and unbiased reviews on some popular models.
Air conditioning as part of the HVAC component is also a major consumer of power in a normal household. A Energy-Star certified air conditioner uses 15% lesser energy as compared to conventional models, which is equivalent to USD85, over the lifetime of the unit. This unit often includes a timer to allow the consumer better control of temperature and allows the usage of minimal energy to cool the room.
Replace the old incandescent style bulbs in your household with either CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs) or LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). CFLs require 75% lesser electric power and a 10 times longer lifespan. However, the presence of mercury vapor that contribute to the longer lifespan of CFLs making disposal difficult. Disposal of used CFLs require special disposal systems or have to be recycled. This is the reason why there is a shift in production focus by major companies like General Electric from CFLs to LEDs.
LEDs has a higher light production efficiency of 90% compared to incandescent light bulbs. Coupled with declining costs in manufacturing and installation for LEDs, this makes its usage as a lighting source a more attractive and eco-friendly option. Consider Energy-star certified LEDs as these products have been tested to ensure that their heat sink are properly managed to ensure that a stable light output until the end of its rated life.
Other Green Household Products
This range of household product include those that can allow you to save water. The label to look out for on such products is the WaterSense label. Under this program, there is a wide range of products from water saving showerheads, bathroom faucets to toilets and urinals.
Installing these products will not let you save on utilities but also entitle you to rebates by the partners under this program though it is only offered in certain areas. Currently we only have a section on water saving shower heads, whereas for the rest of the range we will cover them in our subsequent reviews.
Water saving shower heads
Studies conducted by US EPA have also shown that an average American family could save 2,900 gallons or 22,040 litres annually just by installing WaterSense certified showerheads. These showerheads can also reduce the demands on your water heaters allowing annual savings in electricity of up to 270 kilowatt hours.
For those interested to find out more about what are the criteria and specifications to be met for a water saving shower head, we have a section on what constitutes a water saving shower head with some recommended models.