My husband and I bought an old 1864 Colonial New England home two and a half years ago. It’s amazing but it’s also a lot of work.
But do you know what else it is? Energy efficient. Yup.
Our first year here we went through 12-1400 gallons of heating oil. Now granted it was a coooooooold loooooooong winter, but so was this winter.
This winter we went through about 200 gallons of heating oil. For real and kept the house at 60 (our first winter we could barely afford to keep the house heated at 52 degrees). Our first winter was a real education. We figured out what we needed to do to stay warm and to make our house more efficient. You can do these things too and I guarantee whether you’re in a warm or cold climate it will help you cut down on your energy consumption.
- We bought cases of caulk and went to town sealing up every nook and cranny. I even reglazed most of the windows in the house myself (if you don’t know what that means, no worries – it’s an old house thing). Also don’t forget to seal around doors too!
- Side note – you don’t need new expensive windows to be energy efficient, well sealed and caulked old windows are not that much less efficient.
- We got a pellet stove. I hated using heating oil to heat our house, and propane was even more expensive (back in 2015 at least). We knew there had to be a better way so we did some research, electric isn’t the cheapest form of energy either so we decided to go with a pellet stove. The pellets are made from sawdust and molasses, both of which are green and renewable (and delicious – just ask the dogs). It took some getting used to but we use the pellet stove for probably 80% of our heating in the winter which is how we were able to go from 12-1400 gallons of heating oil to 200.
- What I’m getting at is not that everyone should buy a pellet stove, but everyone should look at alternative ways to heat your space, maybe you have a fireplace, or maybe electric heating is the way to go and a few electric heaters will do the trick. No matter how outlandish look into it. I’d never heard of pellets or pellet stoves before 2015 but I sure do love ours!
- Look at your energy bill. In Minnesota I believe it’s a law that they have to list where your energy is coming from, coal, nuclear, wind, etc… and what percentage. I always loved seeing that. In New Hampshire residents get to choose where their energy comes from, which I mean you can switch electric companies. Eversource delivers our energy and maintains the grid, but we go through North American Power. I don’t love them but they are less expensive and they give us the option to choose our plan, so we have a plan that only uses renewable forms of energy such as solar and wind. No coal and no gas which I love AND it’s not that much more expensive, at least not for us. I know not all states have this option but it’s definitely worth looking into and it’s definitely worth contacting your power company about. And hey, if you don’t want to contact your power company about using more renewable forms of energy I’ll gladly do it for you! Seriously, I love doing that stuff!
- Contact your local representative about things that matter. The federal government has some programs to encourage people to go green, I believe you can get 30% back on the total price of solar panels, so if you spend $10,000 you get $3,000 back on your taxes. This used to be the case for geo-thermal, which is pretty much the coolest way to heat your home, but it expired last year and unfortunately is sitting in a Republican controlled ways and means committee where it will probably die because some conservative from TX is the head of said committee… Despite this I still called my representative (after a few calls to Ways and Means to ask who to call, and calling the conservative TX rep) and told her I supported the extension of the geo-thermal tax credit.
Believe it or not your representative wants to hear from you. It was a very pleasant phone call and I plan to call them again about other issues, specifically pertaining to healthcare and the environment. It’s also super easy to find your rep’s info – you can literally just Google “Who is my representative”, and depending on your location settings they will pop up or take you to a page where you can find them and get their contact info.
That’s it, that’s all we did. Other than the pellet stove (which cost us about $5,000 and was worth every penny) most of these are cheap, free and easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Its not difficult, and every year it gets easier and easier to be green, just start Googling your questions and believe me, solutions are everywhere.