• Going Green Easy Summer Projects

    Welcome to the BSAG Influencers Blog Series! This is a new series of articles from friends and colleagues from our community discussing topics relating to sustainability and green building in San Antonio. We hope that this series will help provide some perspective and insight into what’s happening on the Green Front right here at home. The articles are meant as conversational in nature and therefore do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of Build San Antonio Green or it’s staff.
    With that said, Please enjoy this very informative article by one of our good friends at Green Home Realty, Drew McCurdy!
    It’s that time of year again! It’s starting to heat up, the kids are out of school, and you are spending more time in and around your home. If you are a current homeowner or are considering purchasing a home soon, you know how important it is to implement GREEN options. But with all the demands on the budget, you likely are asking how you can afford to be GREEN, where to start investing to realize value, and how to get started. Relax! As a Realtor with GREEN Home Realty who is certified GREEN by the National Association of Realtors, I get these questions frequently from my clients and would like to share how you can easily be more GREEN.   When looking at where to start first, there are a few main areas to consider: saving electricity, conserving water, and reducing waste. One of the largest energy consumers is your central air conditioner and heater. If you are purchasing a new home, make sure you pay attention to the SEER Rating, which stands for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. According to Energy.gov, this rating essentially provides the relative amount of energy required to provide a specified amount of cooling for your home. Additionally, for newer homes built after January 26, 2006, this rating must be at minimum 13 or higher. If you are in a home with a system rated lower than 13, it may not be cost-effective to replace the system just yet unless it’s failing. In either case, it’s what controls your air conditioner that can play a huge role…your thermostat!
    nest
    Originally, many thermostats were manual. If you left it on, you may have cooled (or heated) too much. If you left it too low, then it would require more energy to get your home to a reasonable temperature. Then came programmable thermostats, which offered slightly better control.
    The challenge with programmable thermostats is that if they don’t have a flexible schedule adjustment, you could still be limited by one programmed schedule and still be wasting energy. Today, there are many more options including self-adjusting/learning thermostats. These thermostats learn your behavior and adjust accordingly. Many can be connected securely to your network for additional control away from home and through your mobile device. Consider a popular model like the Nest Thermostat. This thermostat retails for $249 and can be easily picked up locally at your Home Depot or Lowe’s. Scared of wiring? Don’t fret! Installation couldn’t be easier…even for a novice. Having personally installed myself, instructions are step-by-step. For most installations, it takes less than 15 minutes! There is even an online interactive guide to help you confirm compatibility with your system and walk you through the install process. Customer support is fantastic, should you need it. Using your thermostat is as easy as using your iPhone or Android phone. Not to mention, it looks beautiful in any home and will pay for itself in months!  
    RainBarrel
    Another big challenge in Texas is living with the heat and seemingly constant water restrictions! During the spring and summer months specifically, it can be increasingly difficult to maintain a beautiful landscape – even with drought resistant plants – when homeowners are restricted to specific days and times to water. Like most people, those schedules don’t always fit so something has to give and it usually is your landscape. Approach this differently to get your desired results. Consider a rain barrel to capture the rainfall off your roof.   As explained by epa.gov, a rain barrel is a type of system that will collect and store excess water as a reserve that would otherwise be lost as runoff. Based off epa.gov’s calculations, in as little as one rainfall you could easily fill an average-sized rain barrel of 55 gallons. This could provide enough water during the peak watering months April – October and as much as 1300 gallons of water, depending upon rainfall! Who wouldn’t want free, unrestricted water?
      Rain barrels vary in size, setup, color, and function. Basic setups, which are fine for most, start as little as $39 and sometimes less. More extravagant systems can be expanded on as budget allows. This provides flexibility to expand your savings as your landscape develops over time. I have personally purchased a few rain barrels locally from Dave The Barrel Man in San Antonio. At $69, I was able to get a 55-gallong barrel with built-in water spigot and removable screened lid – important to ensure insects cannot get to water. Service was fast and friendly and picking them up was easier than going to the grocery store. They are lightweight and I had them setup in minutes upon arriving home. And for those of you wondering if you can water from them directly…yes! Gravity allows water to flow through the spigot. Connect a simple water hose and your neighbors will be jealous as your landscape beautifies your home…not to mention you can wash your car without restriction!   Did you know that according to epa.gov for every 1/8 of an inch gap under a 36-inch door lets in as much air as a 2.4-inch hole in a wall? Now imagine those gaps and cracks around your home.
    Maybe your front door, back door, or garage door has been overlooked for a while? Perhaps around your windows or fireplace you have some gaps you’ve ignored? You don’t think about it, but those add up! Under $20, there are several options available including silicon caulk that comes in a variety of colors that will seal, flex with temperature changes, and complement your home. Door sweeps can be easily installed to begin providing enhanced sealing between your outside doors and the floor. Spray foam can insulate large crevices indoors and out. And light switch and socket plate insulators may be beneficial. All can be found at local hardware stores.
    cauck
    Thought about going solar but not ready to go all out yet? Start with something simple! For about $200, you can purchase solar attic fans to replace those squeaky turbines that are probably rusted, broken, and only spin when there is actually consistent wind. Solar attic fans provide cool air circulation in your attic using the sunlight. Imagine that, use what causes your attic to heat up to actually cool it down, save energy, and for free after your initial installation. There are many places to purchase the fans including Costco, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. There are several varieties to choose from to suit your taste. To know how many you need, you can check out a suite of calculators online that allow you to plug in your attic square footage, such as the calculator at solar-attic-fan-info.com. You can install yourself if you are comfortable making a small hole in your roof or, for a nominal fee, a licensed installer can do it for you if you’d rather not get on a ladder.
    AttackFan
    Once installed, you will notice a dramatic difference in the temperature of your attic as hot air is being expelled consistently. This in turn reduces the strain on your A/C and thus your bill as it keeps the cooled air cooler as it travels through the ducts into your home. This one potentially can have a multiple times savings impact! Add an attic tent for more!
      Several other projects exist at varying levels that include rebates which you can take advantage of by visiting cpsenergysavers.com. Currently, A/C, attic insulation, solar, and natural gas rebates exist to name a few. Visit saws.org/conservation to view a variety of indoor/outdoor rebates that exist for more projects at varying levels. Outdoor rebates currently include patioscape, landscape, irrigation design, and swimming pool filters. Indoor rebates currently include free water-efficient fixtures. It’s definitely worth checking out these rebates, especially if you are planning to do some of these projects anyways and are on a budget.   More and more, buyers are looking to purchase energy efficient homes and sellers are looking to implement GREEN enhancements for greater resale value. It’s a known fact in the real estate industry that homes with GREEN technology sell faster and closer to the list price. It’s a win-win for everyone! So if you’re looking to start some summer projects and didn’t quite know where to start, consider this information and make a list to prioritize what would be most beneficial for your specific needs and budget. Start enjoying your improvements and saving while you’re in your home and having it more marketable should you ever decide to sell or rent your home in the future. And if your looking for a home, know that these projects can be factored into an offer to make your home more efficient and enjoyable once you move in. Being GREEN doesn’t have to be about spending money, it’s about educating yourself to understand the many options you have in reducing waste and conserving. And while you’re enjoying your “green savings,” let everyone else be “green with envy.”

    Drew
     Drew McCurdy, REALTOR, GREEN, CNE of Green Home Realty, LLC

    www.greenhomerealtysa.com

    If you are interested in participating in the blog series please contact Jacob Eyer the Event & Outreach Coordinator at Jeyer@buildsagreen.org