green living: eco-nomical green living
right: This diagram illustrates how a
geothermal heat pump operates. The
system collects heat from the Earth to
circulate through the house in the winter, and
collects heat from the house and discharges it
in the ground during the summer.
top: The Ecobee programmable thermostat
is easily accessible through a Web portal
as well as its very own iPhone app.
by 13 percent and reuses a resource that typically went
into the landfill. No matter which insulation you choose,
installed correctly, it will help keep your house more
comfortable while saving energy and money.
Windows and Doors
If you look at windows and doors from an efficiency
standpoint, they are basically holes in the insulation
you’ve installed in your house. Holes provide an avenue
for heated or cooled air to sneak out. Houses typically
tend to lose 25 percent of their heat through windows.
To save your green, you need to buy energy-efficient
windows. Low E windows save energy by reflecting heat
out on hot days and reflecting heat in on cold ones. Low
E windows consist of a thin coat of metal applied to the
inside of the glass with argon between the glass panes
on the inside to prevent the metal from oxidizing.
Don’t forget the doors. Make sure they seal well so
that air can’t escape around them.
Now that your home is well insulated, the next task is
to heat and cool it in the most eco-friendly manner. While
there are many options, the greenest way may be geothermal.
Heating and Cooling
Geothermal heat pumps are over 40 to 70 percent
more energy efficient than other standard options. The
geothermal heat pump operates by taking advantage of
the stable temperature of the earth itself. Pipes buried
underground circulate water to collect heat from the earth
to distribute it to the house in the winter and to pull the
heat from the house and discharge it into the ground
to cool in the summer. The heat collected or discharged
costs nothing to generate since it comes from the earth
itself, and the best part—it’s completely renewable and
non-polluting. Geothermal is about as green as it gets.
Unfortunately geothermal will cost more to install.
How much depends on where you live and the size of
the system required. Fortunately, with the installation of
qualified geothermal systems, you can receive a Federal
Tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of the system with
no upper limit until December 31, 2016. This tax credit
is good for new and existing homes, as well as primary
and secondary homes. With geothermal, you can get the
good green feeling in both your heart and your wallet.
Now that your house is well insulated and you have
installed highly efficient heating and cooling, what
sense does it make to heat and cool when you aren’t
around? The solution is a programmable thermostat.
But programmable is just the beginning.
Today you can purchase a WIFI enabled thermostat
for not much more than a standard programmable one.
A company named Ecobee ( www.ecobee.com) not only
offers the ability to control its user-friendly smart thermostat through a Web portal, but also offers an iPhone
app that allows for remote mobile control of your
household energy use. Not only can you program your
heat to be off when you are away during the day, but
LEF T: COURTESY ECOBEE; RIGH T: © ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/SLAVOMIR VALIGURSKY