Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top 10 Eco-Friendly Projects to Prepare Your Evanston Home for Winter

As we near the end of October, we all are starting to sense that the infamous Chicago winter is right around the corner.  While winter can be a beautiful time in Evanston with it’s charming downtown gleaming with holiday lights and cheer, having energy bills go through the roof is something that seems to weigh heavily on everyone’s mind.
To ensure your Evanston home is as energy efficient as possible this winter, we’ve gathered ten projects that you can do this weekend.  You’ll not only save money, but you’ll be promoting eco-friendly living at the same time, which is something we can all appreciate!
1. Replace your shower head- Your shower head is a water-waster if it fills a gallon bucket in 20 seconds or less. Install a new WaterSense-labeled showerhead and you could save more than 2,300 gallons of water annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 
2. Add aerators to your faucet- You can save an additional 500 gallons of water annually simply by replacing a standard aerator, which delivers more than 2.5 gallons per minute, with a low-flow one, with a flow of 0.5 to 1 gallon per minute. Low-flow aerators will cut water and energy usage while maintaining adequate water pressure.

3. Install a water-efficient toilet- The EPA estimates that a family of four replacing a home's older toilets with WaterSense-labeled models average $90 in annual savings on their water bill and $2,000 in the toilet's lifetime.
4. Switch to florescent light bulbs- As the days get shorter, you'll keep the lights on more. Now is a good time to switch from traditional, incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. Energy Star-qualified CFLs use 75% less energy and last as much as 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Not ready to change every light bulb in your home? Start with your five most-used light fixtures, and you can save more than $65 annually.
5. Install a programmable thermostat- With a programmable thermostat, you can preset temperatures for your home and automatically reduce heating and cooling when you don't need them as much or when you’re away from your Evanston home. Energy Star says an average household can save about $180 annually on its energy bills by properly setting its programmable thermostat and maintaining those settings.
6. Build or install an insulated attic hatch- If your attic entry is not insulated, your home gains heat in summer and loses it in winter, greatly increasing your energy bills. Taking this on as a DIY project or hiring a contractor to do it will cut down on losing large amounts of heat in the winter and will result in a lower energy bill. 
7. Stop chimney drafts- Even with the damper closed, your home's heated air goes up the chimney in winter and hot outdoor air comes down in the summer. When you're not using it your fireplace, plug the flue with a chimney balloon like the Draftstopper from Battic Door Energy Conservation Products.
8. Drain sediment from your water heater- To ensure your water heater's performance and longevity, drain it annually to get rid of accumulated sediment such as sand, minerals and other non-soluble debris that settles at the bottom of the tank. You’ll know to do this if your heater sounds like a coffee pot, making bubbling or burping noises. The basic strategy is to attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and run it outdoors or to a utility tub.
9. Replace your washing machine hoses- Washing-machine hoses don't last forever, regardless of the material, whehter reinforced rubber or stainless steel, even those touted as "burst-proof." A broken hose can deluge your Evanston home with hundreds of gallons of water per hour, and your homeowners insurance probably won't cover the flood. Check the hoses frequently for rusting, bulging, cracking, fraying and leaks. All are signs that you should replace the hoses now. While you're at it, check the hoses leading to water heaters, dishwashers and refrigerator icemakers.
10. Add insulating window treatments- You can increase your comfort and cut your energy bills this winter with thermal window coverings. There are a wide variety of options out there from foam backed thermal curtains and liners to energy efficient window shades. 
Whether you decide to do a few, or all of these projects, you’ll find that the energy savings and eco-friendly choices will be well worth the effort this winter.  Our goal is to not only help you buy or sell your home in Evanston, but to be Evanston Real Estate agents that have a holistic approach to the Evanston Real Estate market and lifestyle
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about buying or selling in Evanston.  We’re here to help and look forward to talking with you!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

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