Hawaii is leading many states in its moves toward energy self-sufficiency and new energy solutions. Here are 5 ideas you can use to make your own home more energy efficient, and become proactive in the move to save money and the environment. President Obama's "Home Star Retrofit Rebate" program, recently introduced in Congress, could reduce energy costs for middle-class families by hundreds of dollars per year, and some of the following suggestions could help you apply for the rebates.
1. Windows and doors - patch holes, in screens too, to seal off air leaking from your cooling system (if you have one) and to utilize more of the air generated by the fans. Caulk around windows and where wiring goes to the outside of the house. This will cut off entry points for small critters too.
2. Floor and wall insulation - we think of colder climates needing insulation, but Hawaii Kai homes do also. Insulation can keep a home cooler in the summer and warmer in winter (we do have a few cold rainy days) and use less energy. Use insulation in the upper reaches - like the attic space - of your house and seal any gaps to the outside.
3. Lighting - replace traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescents and you will use 75% less energy on lighting alone. Don't wait until the old bulbs burn out.
4. Appliances - when you are ready to replace, always buy an Energy Star appliance. Also, change air filters often if you have air conditioning.
5. Programmable thermostats - if you have central air, these are very energy-saving devices, easy to install, and easily adjustable. For every degree that a thermostat is set back, you may realize a savings between 1-3% on your heating or cooling bills.
Let's each do our own part to help Hawaii be the model state in the country for energy usage and a green lifestyle.
Barbara Abe, Realtor