Earth Day has arrived and with it so has the buzz about bettering the environment and going green around the home. Who would know better about “greening” you home more than students who are actually building a green home? 2011 Solar Decathlon competitor, Team Massachusetts—comprised of students from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and University of Massachusetts- Lowell, are working on an eco-friendly home design and construction and offer suggestions for Greener Grounds this Earth Day.

Team Massachusetts is a group of students from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and University of Massachusetts- Lowell.  They will be competing in 2011 Solar Decathlon, a biennial U.S. Department of Energy global competition to design and build a home that addresses the changing needs of family life and of the planet.  Teams create homes displayed on the National Mall that combine affordability, energy-efficient construction and appliances, and renewable energy systems available today. 

  1. Replace old windows and doors if you can. Windows and doors can be energy loss culprits. If your home is overdue for new windows and doors, it is certainly a smart investment. Not only will this save you money on your energy bill, you will also add value to your home.
  2. Purchase energy-efficient appliances, especially if they are over ten years old. With the availability of flat screen televisions and Energy Star-rated appliances, it is so easy to save money on your energy bill.  Many states even offer tax incentives for energy upgrades to your home.  Replacing appliances for something more modern can even help save you money and energy. Taking it a step further, researching the most energy-efficient appliances available on sites like EPEAT.NET might lead you to getting your money back through tax incentives as well.
  3. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with energy saving bulbs. The quality of light is a little different, and the lights take a moment longer to reach full brightness, but they use a lot less energy. If you are planning on replacing light fixtures in your home, explore LED options; it is the new trend in energy-efficient lighting and the overall best selection.
  4. Unplug electronics after use or invest in power strips. Leaking electricity, idle current, vampire power—whatever you may call it, this waste of electricity can account for up to 20% of home electrical use. To prevent loss of energy and to save money, use power strips or unplug electronics when you are not using them.
  5. Stop buying bottled water, and start using self filtering or aluminum water bottles. Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil in the United States alone are wasted to make water bottles from polyethylene terephthalate, of which 86% are incinerated or put in landfills. Stop the trend of bottled water waste and invest in self filtering or aluminum water bottles
  6. Grow your own food and herbs. As summer approaches, start to think about growing your own food. It is so easy to grow things like tomatoes, basil, parsley, cilantro, and the list could go on depending on the size of your yard and how much time you are willing to commit. For city dwellers, invest in a farm share for the summer for local produce from local farms like
  7. Set your thermostat for ultimate energy savings. Even though we are slowly leaving winter behind, you can still save energy and money by monitoring your thermostat. If you are going to be home, you could set it at 68-70 degrees. While you are away or asleep, the temperature could be as low as 62-64 degrees. Your thermostat’s user-guide should tell you how to schedule your home’s temperature for ultimate energy savings during both the warming and cooling seasons.
  8. Use a clothesline when you can. With the warm weather ahead, try using a clothesline instead of a dryer. The sun is actually a natural antibacterial and deodorizer, so using the line saves energy and money while ensuring your clothes are clean and smelling wonderful. Plus, lines do not have the same harsh effects as dryers, so you are able to enjoy your clothes for longer.
  9. Take shorter showers. As relaxing as they are, long hot showers are a waste. Shorter showers will save you money on your water and heating bill. Not only will it save you money and energy, but it will reduce wastewater that needs to be treated by your local resources.
  10. Reduce, reuse, and recycle when necessary. Before you throw something in the trash, or even in the recycling bin, first ask yourself if you can reuse it. Take out containers, plastic or paper bags, shipping boxes etc. There are so many items we don’t think about reusing that have second life potential. Think twice before running to the garbage can, and see if you could reduce your carbon footprint by reusing or recycling.
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