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 Home Greening Guide

Envisioning a Better Future

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Reducing our carbon footprint is important to protecting and sustaining our precious environment. 

Here are some steps that you can take that will move us away from a fossil fuel dependent economy and culture.


·   Winter: set heating to 68°F and down to 62°F at bedtime or when you're away. Use programmable thermostats to do this.

·    Summer: set to 78°F during the day or when away and down to 72°F at night. Again, programmable thermostats manage this task very well.

·   Use energy-saving settings on all your appliances:  washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, and refrigerators. Front loading washers use 1/3 less water.

·   Turn the water heater thermostat down to 120°F, maybe even a little lower.

·   Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes. When time permits, air-dry your clothes and dishes. Clothes that sun dry on a line out smell so fresh.

·   Turn off lights when leaving a room. Turning off your computer and monitor at night, when away, or during other long idle periods can extend its life.

·   Clean refrigerator condenser coils every two months; same for a stand-alone freezer. Make sure there’s enough air circulation space near the coils.

·   Close the drapes after sunset in the winter, and at windows that get direct sun in the summer. Be sure to close windows in the summer when air conditioning runs.

·   Keep the fireplace damper closed whenever you don’t have a fire going. Otherwise the air you pay to heat goes right up the chimney

·   Take a shower – the shorter the better – instead of a bath.

·   Unplug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players when not in use; or use power strips and fully turn off all the connected equipment with one switch. TVs, DVDs, TiVos, and many other devices in standby mode still consume several watts of power.

·    Purchase a new surge suppressor strip which can turn off all connected devices when the device plugged into the control socket is turned off. When the device plugged into the control socket is turned on, all other devices will also turn on.


·   Install a water-saving 2.5 gal/minute showerhead.

·   Install water-efficient faucet heads for your kitchen and bathroom sinks.

·   Repair or replace leaky faucets and toilets (5 percent of water "use" is leakage).

·   Install a programmable thermostat, and then actually program it!

·   In the attic and basement, caulk or in some other way plug every air leak you can identify. A smoking incense stick will help you safely find them.

·   Replace and re-putty broken window panes.

·   Clean or change the air filter monthly on your forced-air heating/cooling system.

·   Insulate at least the first four feet of piping on each side of water heater.

·   Insulate the first three feet of hot and inlet cold water pipes.

·   Insulate the water heater.

·   Install LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs in the fixtures you use the most.

·   Install gaskets on all electric outlets and switches mounted in outside walls.

·   Start a vegetable garden, even a small one. There’s nothing much tastier (or healthier, or cheaper) than fresh veggies.


·   Get a comprehensive energy audit, including a blower door test, to identify sources of air infiltration and excessive heat transfer.

·   Caulk and weatherize all air leaks. Start with the attic and basement first, especially around plumbing and electrical penetrations, and around the framing that rests on the foundation, and weatherize windows and doors.

·   Insulate and weather-strip access hatch/stairs to attic.

·   Install ceiling fans. Cool air circulates better and feels more comfortable in the summer. Do not use ceiling fans in the winter. They create more air movement which makes the room feel cooler.

·   Seal and insulate forced-air heating (or cooling) ducts. Add extra 6" blanket over any ducts or AC units in attic.

·   Install a whole-house fan in the attic. It uses cooler evening air to cool the entire house and push hot air out of the attic area. Install room or whole house humidifier(s) for cold weather use. They will make a lower temperature feel comfortable. Be sure to turn it off in warm weather!

·   Have heating and cooling systems tuned up every year.

·   Install additional faucet aerators, efficient showerheads, and programmable thermostats.

·   Make insulating shades for your windows, or add insulating storm windows. About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors.

·   Insulate hot water pipes in unheated basements or crawlspaces.

·   Install a Power Factor Corrector (PFC) to reduce the KW hours charged by PECO. Professional installation and help is usually required.


·   Foundation: insulate inside rim joist and down the foundation to below the frost line to at least R-19 in cold climates, and to R-11 or better moderate climates.

·   Basement: insulate the inside of basement walls/crawl space.  If heated, install to R-19 or more above grade and to R-11 or more below grade.

·   Attic: increase attic insulation to R-50 in cold climates, R-38 in milder climates, and R-30 plus a radiant barrier in hot climates.

·   Walls: adding wall insulation is more difficult and expensive, but may be cost-effective if your house is uncomfortable.

·   Convert to solar water heating, and perhaps also supplementary solar space heating and/or solar power panels (sell excess power back to PECO).

·   Upgrade to super-insulating or at least low emissivity windows in cold climates, if replacement is needed.

·   Upgrade your water heater, furnace, boiler, air conditioners, and refrigerator to more efficient models. Newer units are far more efficient. Upgrading is often cost-effective, especially if you need to replace failing units anyway. Also, if you've weatherized and insulated, you’ll be able to downsize the heating and cooling system. Look for the ENERGY STAR label on home appliances and products.

·   Replace high-flow toilets with modern water efficient toilets that use 50-80 percent less water.

·   Install awnings or build removable trellises over windows that overheat your home in the summer.

Alternative Modes of Transportation

·   Consider carpooling and public transit to cut mileage and car maintenance costs. Try Other major cities have car sharing programs as well.

·   Use a bicycle for short trips and encourage your local government to make safe biking more of a priority. Use safety equipment like a helmet.  Our local trains accept bicycles.

·   Walk whenever you can. Health organizations recommend that we walk 10,000 steps a day. Most of us do far less than that. 

Transition Cheltenham

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