In the abstract, keeping an efficient, environmentally-friendly home sounds complicated, like it might involve making your own soap out of yams and feelings. But in reality, making efficient tune-ups to your home can be as simple as buying a new game for your phone.
OK. "It's easy!" isn't always a compelling argument for changing your lifestyle, but saving money can be: the price of electricity has been rising due to extreme weather and a general "fragility" in the grid, and it doesn't look like it's going down anytime soon. To keep their bills under control, homeowners would be wise to switch to efficient, energy-saving appliances — which can reduce power bills (about 5% to 30%) and footprints. Here's how leaders in innovation like Verizon Wireless can help sustainability noobs save money — and the world! — at the same time.
Save Your Money, Your Energy, and Your Couch
Lots of simple household tasks have more of an environmental slant than we realize. Take securing your empty house, for example. From leaving the lights on all evening while you're on a date to hiring a house-sitter who will run up your energy bills watching premium cable for 97 hours straight, we waste a lot of energy in the name of feeling safe when we leave our homes.
A simple home automation system — like Verizon Home Monitoring and Control — eliminates the need for leaving appliances on or depending on "job-free" friends to watch your place while you're on vacation. Easily accessed by smartphone, tablet, or computer, home automation lets you check in on your home remotely, using activated cameras that can be accessed any time of day. You can also remotely turn any appliance on or off — so you can keep the lights dimmed at night to create the illusion of being home and keep your thermostat all the way down while traveling.
And this doesn't just apply to long trips: home automation systems can help you make smarter, everyday energy decisions. Like deciding not to leave the living room TV on for Fido after discovering he actually spends his days in the bathroom, trying to catch the dog that lives in the mirror...
Take the Guesswork Out of Energy Efficiency
Figuring out which appliances to cut loose in order to reduce energy waste around the house can be intimidating, and besides, there are only so many hours in the day. Between your job, family, and pub quiz team (we're called "Quiz Lemon" and we're league semi-champions, thank you very much), there's not much leisure time at the end of the day to spend auditing your home for inefficiencies.
Verizon Home Monitoring and Control can actually do a remote energy analysis of your house, measuring which areas are wasting the most power as you go about an average day. The results will give you the ammunition you need to snap up new, environmentally-friendly appliances that provide the same functions as conventional appliances while using much less energy. The Energy Star-certified Friedrich Kuhl Plus Room Air Conditioner, for instance, uses 15% less energy than traditional models. If you're not one to get hot and bothered over your HVAC system, what about an energy-efficient TV? LG's 47" Class Cinema 3D LED Google TV provides cutting-edge options like internet connectivity while saving 25% more energy than a conventional television.
Water (Waste), Water (Waste), Everywhere
Saving water might seem like an issue totally unrelated to energy consumption — but the two are closely linked. Energy is used to heat your warm water, as well as pump water into your home every time you turn on a tap — in fact, 8% of all US energy is used to heat, pump, and treat water. So saving water benefits the earth on two fronts, and is one of the most painless changes to make to your home.
Faucets are a great place to start the water portion of your energy lifestyle upgrade. Auto faucets that turn on and off by sensor can save up to 70% more water than conventional faucets; they automatically turn off when they're not in immediate use (like when you're brushing your teeth) and run on a single preset temperature, eliminating the waste that comes from jiggling the hot and cold handles to find the "perfect" temperature. Best of all, you don't need to overhaul your entire bathroom to install them — faucets like Laykor MP1 Touchless Automatic Sensor Faucet can easily be added to your existing sink.
Toilets are also a huge source of water waste in most homes: older toilets can use as much as six gallons per flush, which, in addition to being an environmental waste, will totally run up your water bill. A dual-flush toilet like the American Standard FloWise Dual Flush Elongated Toilet — which has the EPA's WaterSense seal of approval — allows you to alternate between a smaller .8 gallon flush and a more powerful 1.6 gallon flush. Smaller flushes are a key part of cutting down water waste — and an efficient toilet can save you more than $110 a year on your water bills.
Energy-Efficient People Are, Well, Efficient
Energy-efficient technology saves money and the environment, sure; but did you know it can also help you develop a more efficient lifestyle overall?
Energy efficient light bulbs, like these LED bulbs from Philips, can last up to 25,000 hours, compared to the traditional incandescent bulb's usual lifespan of 1,000 to 2,000 hours. So every incandescent replaced with an energy-efficient bulb means 12 fewer trips to the store, 12 fewer trips to the garage to get the ladder, and 12 fewer chances to accidentally burn your fingertips on a super-hot broken lightbulb.
And an energy-efficient dishwasher, like the Whirlpool Gold Series Dishwasher with Sensor Cycle, can both reduce the length of dish-washing cycles and use soil sensors to clean dishes more deeply — eliminating the need to wash them off before you load them.
These may seem like small things — but the moments energy efficiency buys you adds up. Leave the hard parts of developing a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle to Verizon Wireless, and use all that extra free time to work on other pressing challenges, like studying up for the next pub quiz. This could finally be the year your team wins!
For more on homes of the future, head to homeofthefuture.gizmodo.com.
Gabrielle Moss has written mostly funny stuff (but also some serious stuff) for GQ.com, The Hairpin, Nerve, etc. You can follow her