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Retrofit a Home

When evaluating possibilities, consider the methods described in the section Build: Sustainable Building Design and Construction.

Home being retrofitted with green technology
  • possible, modify your home's electrical system to harness solar energy. Photovoltaic panels or shingles collect and store solar energy in batteries. Contact your local electric utility company for assistance and possible rebates.
  • Water and space heating account for more than 50% of household energy use. With architectural modifications, you may be able to improve natural lighting, airflow, and the collection of solar heat for indoor heating. Install skylights to utilize natural light. Consider installing solar hot water heating systems.
  • Install a light colored "cool roof". Paint your house a light color. Light colors reflect heat.
  • Install a whole-house fan. They work by pulling cool outside air into the house and drawing the warm household air out through vents. This type of ventilation is most effective at night and in the early morning.
  • Upgrade to a modern, energy efficient furnace and air conditioner. Have air ducts tested for leakage, and seal any leaks.
  • If you don't have one, install a programmable thermostat to help automatically regulate your home temperature for comfort control and energy savings.
  • Weatherize. If needed, retrofit windows and doors, and add insulation. Higher "R" numbers provide greater insulating power. When installing insulation, target your attic, ceiling, walls, and air ducts. An attic accounts for 15 - 20% of the heat loss in a home and is usually the easiest and least expensive area of the house to insulate. Caulk and weather-strip windows and doors. Wrap your water heater tank in an insulating blanket if the water heater's energy factor is less than .58, unless the manufacturer has indicated otherwise. Insulate exterior, uncovered hot water pipes.
  • Install low-flush toilets or water displacement devices. Install aerators on faucets and low-flow, water-saving shower heads that save 5 to 10% on water heating costs.
  • Collect roof and pavement runoff into a cistern for later use as irrigation water.
  • Install a pipe system to reuse gray water, water that has been used in washing.
  • Redirect downspouts from roofs onto vegetation, rather than onto impervious surfaces that drain into streets, gutters, and storm drains.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, especially on the fixtures that you use most often.
Image of a home with leaves on it representing a "green" or sustainably built home.
  • Block the sun before it reaches windows by planting trees and installing awnings. Drapes, shades, blinds, and window film help keep the sun out and keep temperatures down.
  • Buy energy efficient products and appliances. Shop for the models with the highest energy-efficiency ratings. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
  • Purchase a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same thing as an anti-sweat heater. Models with an anti-sweat heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature. " Most of our homes are not designed to provide space to collect material for recycling. A simple way to encourage recycling is to place two trashcans together in each room, one for recyclables and one for other household wastes.