The movers are on their way, and you are getting excited to have your items unpacked and all settled in, but there are a few things left to figure out, such as what types of utilities to use in your new house.
If your utilities haven’t already been activated, you should do some investigating to see what types of energy is offered in your state. If you have made a move California, you are in luck as three of the top ten greenest cities in the United States are located in sunny California. If you made the trek to another state, don’t worry, as there has been a large effort to move to green energy in many states over the last several years. To find out if there are any green utility products available in your state, visit the U.S. Department of Energy website at Energy.gov and select your state.
The term green energy generally refers to a type of electricity that is produced from a renewable energy source, such as wind, solar power, geothermal etc. In the United States, over 50% of energy customers are able to purchase a green utility product directly from their electricity supplier.
The shift to green power is not off in the distant future anymore, it is becoming a reality. It is important for all of us to utilize green energy sources when possible, as we need to support the increase of renewable energy sources. This can reduce the burning of fossil fuels, such as natural gas, coal, and oil.
Once you have chosen and activated your green utility services, you can look for other regional green services such as a recycling center or transfer station. You will most likely have boxes and other materials leftover after your move that can be recycled if not stored for reuse. Get to know your local service facilities and find out the specifics on their procedures for proper recycling and disposal of your household items. While doing this research, you can visit Earth911.com to find out what services are offered to you locally.
Getting a fresh start and taking a new approach to living green can be a good way to refocus and get motivated again after your move.
If you are like me, you are constantly trying to reduce your carbon footprint and dependence on oil and other non- renewable energy sources. I drive a hybrid, am slowing converting all my incandescent light bulbs to CFL bulbs, recycle as much as possible and use water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Needless to say these are small steps and I often wonder if I could be doing more – much more.
As a realtor I tour homes every week in which the builder or homeowner has spared no expensive to upgrade the kitchen and baths, finish the basement, add decorative moldings, plant expensive landscaping, install automatic sprinkler systems, etc. But rarely do I see a home with an alternative, eco friendly heating and cooling system.
Here in Massachusetts about half of all homes are heated by oil. According to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association costs for heating a home by oil this winter are expected to increase by 47.3% from last winter. Projected increases for natural gas and electricity are less shocking, 9.2% and 8.6% respectively. Given these high costs you would think that more consumers would be going green and turning to alternative sources of energy, such as geothermal or solar, for home heating and cooling. Apart from the very progressive developer or builder, that is just not the case from what I see in my day to day adventures in real estate.
Many people are under the impression that 1) eco friendly systems for heating and cooling are too expensive install and/or 2) not possible without the perfect climatic conditions. These systems can be more expensive, but as the technology improves the price will and has decreased. There is also the additional offset of long term savings on heating and cooling costs. In regards to the second issue – geothermal and solar systems can be installed almost anywhere. Germany, not exactly the sunniest of locations, uses more solar energy than any other country in the world. Even in New England the ground is sufficiently warm enough to produce geothermal heat. Case in point – Monarch Lofts in Lawrence is installing a geothermal system to heat and cool 202 residential condo units.
Granted going green does often increase costs, at least in the short term, but should home heating costs continue to escalate, I am sure consumers will begin to demand homes with alternative heating sources and other eco conscious features. Recent surveys have shown that buyers are willing to pay extra for a new home with eco friendly features.
Of course in the interim there are options for those of us wanting to do our part for the environment, but unable to build a new home.
- Remodeling? Incorporate some green or renewable materials such as bamboo flooring, low toxic finishes, low flow toilets and showers, countertops made from recycled glass, etc. For inspiration and materials check out Ecohaus.
- Install programmable thermostats, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), and solar or on-demand water heaters.
- Pay attention to the Energy Star ratings and buy energy efficient appliances.
- Install energy efficient windows and insulation.
By doing what we can now and demanding alternatives in the near future, perhaps we can make a difference in preserving the planet for our children and grandchildren.