Are you feeling bombarded about “greening your home?‘ There’s so much stuff out there to absorb. There are articles flying around about all the good “green” things to do. Don’t get me wrong, I think reducing our carbon footprint, going green, and hopefully, saving money are all important.
But, I just recently came across two articles that look at the costs of going” green” more closely. Just because something is “green” doesn’t mean it truly reduces our carbon footprint or helps you to save you money. One of the biggest offenders is bamboo flooring. Since most bamboo is sourced in the Far East, the cost and impact on our carbon footprint for transporting bamboo may outweigh the fact that it’s a renewable resource.
During these crazy times it’s important to analyze how you spend your money on your home. It’s important to think about the payback to you and the environment, in addition to the payback for when you might sell, even if selling your home is in the future. Going “green” is important to consider, but according to some, there are different ways to handle going green.
Two recent posts on different blogs talked about this very issue. The Bigger Pockets blog listed 7 green items that could be a waste of money. I’m not sure I agree with all that is said. For example, CLF’s, Compact Fluorescent Bulbs are more expensive than standard light bulbs, but they are a fairly inexpensive way to reduce our carbon footprint. Sure they are more expensive than standard light bulbs and may become cheaper, but it’s important to start now and with CFL’s, it is a great place to start. From the EnergyStar website:
If every American home replaced just one light with a light that’s earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.
Other things, such as location, factor into making a “green” decision. Bigger Pockets felt solar panels were not efficient enough yet to warrant the cost. If you live in Seattle, it probably isn’t cost effective to install solar panels, especially with all the gray 65 degree days we’ve had this summer! However, in Southern California it makes perfect sense. I have a friend who installed solar panels and is receiving a substantial rebate for the first five years, plus a check from the utility company for helping to supply power back to the grid. The payback for these people will be 5-7 years. Not a bad return for a fairly expensive item. But these folks have no plans to move, so the investment should more than pay for itself over the years.
Worldchanging tackles this same subject with a video of how to “green” a new construction home and other thoughts about how to reduce our carbon footprint. The post mentions a book by Eric Corey Freed and Kevin Daum entitled “Green Sense for the Home: Rating the Real Payoff from 50 Green Home Projects.” The book is divided into three handy sections. The first covers things that can be done now, like using CFL’s or insulating a hot water tank, to more expensive changes like adding solar power and new windows, to building a “green” new home.
The bottom line is everyone should be thinking about making changes, both big and small to save energy and money. Some things work better for some people, homes, and locations than other “green” changes. It is important to decide what works for you. Do the research and make good decisions to maximize your dollar and to save energy.
What ways do you find to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint? If you’ve got some “green” tips, ideas, etc., please do share.
It’s funny, last night I was just talking with a neighbor about Bill Gates and how he and Melinda had the power to change the world, making it a better place for all. Previously, The Gates Foundation has focused mostly on health and education. Now Mr. Gates is taking on climate change.
Gates spoke about his commitment to using his massive philanthropic resources (the Gates Foundation is the world’s largest) to make life better for people through public health and poverty alleviation (“vaccines and seeds” as he put it). Then he said something he’s never said before: that is it because he’s committed to improving life for the world’s vulnerable people that he now believes that climate change is the most important challenge on the planet.
His formula for zero emissions was explained:
According to Gates, P is for people, S is for the services needed by the people, energy (E) is what it takes to provide these services, and C is for the CO2, the amount of carbon emitted from the production of the energy to provide these services to the population.
Alex Steffen in his Worldchanging post had an addition to the Gates equation:
What’s more, protecting and healing the biosphere is essential to meeting the climate crisis itself. Logging our forests, over-burdening our oceans, converting land for agriculture and grazing, all these are huge contributors to our climate problem, and restoring the capacities of natural systems to absorb carbon dioxide is a critical part of the solution.
In order to truly succeed, we need to improve the quality of our natural systems at about the same rate at which we’re converting the economy to clean energy. Properly, Gates’ Equation would include a value for nature:
CO2 = P x S x E x C ÷ N
This post is an important one. I like the “global” perspective of the issue. Mr. Steffen believes we need to rethink “our relationship to stuff” and plan more effectively with interactive systems or networks, such as designing zero-impact cities.
Cities are the tools we need for reinventing prosperity. We can build zero-impact cities, and we need to. Any answer to the problem of climate change needs to be as focused on reinventing the future as powering it.
After reading through the post, I skimmed the comment section. Some don’t think zero emissions is possible. Many people will find this all to daunting of a proposition, but it’s a goal worth working towards. Even if it’s not fully achieved, working in the direct of zero emissions is the direction we should be heading towards.
What do you think about zero emissions? I realize this is a very complex issue and I’m only skimming the surface here, but is talk about it realistic? Is it a goal we should strive for in our daily lives?
The plan may have flaws in its implementation, which others are better equipped to address, but from my vantage point, Gates can play a huge role in raising the awareness for climate change. Perhaps the climate experts should sit down and hash out a plan with Mr. Gates. Having the voice of Bill Gates on your side is huge.