Saving green at home: Tips to cut costs and your carbon footprint

Climate change is a hot topic, but you don’t have to be a major corporation or an industrialized nation to have an impact.

Boston 25 News Meteorologist Vicki Graf toured a local home with the Cambridge Energy Alliance for easy changes to cut costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

Roofing and insulation

The tour started at the top: on the roof.

Meghan Shaw, with the Cambridge Energy Alliance, says newer roofing and insulation is a great way to increase your home’s energy efficiency. She recently redid the roof at her own home.

"We took advantage of Mass Save deep discounts…75% off insulation. They added high hats so we could insulate our attic space a lot more," Shaw said.

Shaw says white roofing is a good option as well, since it reflects the sunlight in the summer, preventing heat from reaching down into the neighborhood and warming up everyone down at the street level.

Going solar

Solar panels can be pricey but can have a big payoff, especially if you have panels producing both solar electricity and solar hot water.

Smart thermostats

Inside your home, Shaw says smart thermostats are an improvement over manual and even programmable thermostats.

"These actually learn when you're home and when you're away - and if you happen to leave your house when you've set it as if you were home, you can use your smartphone to change it,” Shaw said.

Shades, blinds and curtains

Shaw pointed out that an easy change is to focus on shades, blinds and curtains: Closing them in the summer and leaving them open in the winter.

"These rooms get a ton of light in the morning and throughout the day, so we just pull these down and it actually prevents that solar heat gain.  In the winter we do the exact opposite - we make sure all of our blinds are open so the winter sun is helping to warm our house.”

Insulated curtains are another inexpensive way to block drafts.

Water-saving Measures

Shaw says heating your water at home and cleaning it at a water treatment plant can be a big energy drain, so water-saving measures are important.

"The Mass Save program actually offers free aerators: they reduce the amount of water that flows out of your faucet, but it doesn't actually change the feeling of the water, so that's a great way to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions,” Shaw said.

Other tips include:

  • Install low-flow showerheads
  • Only run your dishwasher when it's full
  • Wash your clothes in cold water

Energy-efficient replacements

Before it’s time to replace those older furnaces and water tanks, Shaw says you should be planning out the best energy-efficient options for your home to avoid fossil fuels.

Air source heat pumps are a good option for heating that runs off of clean electricity.

Water tanks should have an Energy Source label on them, so you can see exactly how much energy and money they will cost to run.

Air sealing

Down in your basement, Shaw says you can also take advantage of free air sealing from Mass Save.  It fits around the pipes to keep both cold air -- and pests -- from entering your home all winter long.

"There's lots that Mass Save will do in your home for free," Shaw said. "It's available for homeowners, renters, landlords, and so we really encourage people to get the value that they've already paid in, back out of Mass Save. Get your free air sealing.  Get your discount insulation. Get your free LED lightbulbs."
For more information on energy efficiency and money-saving rebates, visit Mass Save