Green Living


By Devika Rao

Since we were children, we have been reminded to turn off the lights when we leave a room and turn off the water while we brush our teeth. When enforced, these simple acts can save massive amounts of energy and gallons of water. But as the times have changed and technology has evolved, we’re forced to reevaluate our new habits and make a conscious effort to further “greenify” our lives.

Technology such as cell phones, iPods and laptops have become commonplace, causing us to power them up and charge them almost every day. These products are known to suck up power in a home, even when not in use.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Home Guide, the residential sector is responsible for 21 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions. To help lower this number, many new products have been released to help make your home a greener place to live, while saving you plenty in energy costs.

The Energy Star® logo is sealed onto almost every piece of technology available in the market—laptop screens, washing machines and dryers, and even light bulbs. Energy Star Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) operate at 90-degree F, as opposed to the 350 degree F emitted by most incandescent light bulbs, which allows the CFLs to consume 75 percent less energy, according to The Home Depot Eco Options division. 

Self-detecting controls are another way to save energy on lighting. “Lighting controls with [automatic daylight dimming] come with the sensors that can detect the amount of daylight in a room, and accordingly, they turn down the lights to save energy,” says Matthew Flannery, graduate mechanical engineer at Buro Happold. “Also, rooms would have CO2 sensors, so as the occupancy increases, it would let in more outdoor air to keep [indoor air quality] at a safe and comfortable level.”

In the hot Georgia summers, it is the easiest thing to turn down the thermostat and forget to turn it back up when you leave the house. This can send your energy bills through the roof!  Energy Star® thermostats can be programmed to shut off when you’re not home; thereby ensuring that you will save money on energy bills and reduce CO2 emissions in the air.

Like Energy Star, WaterSense® certified products also ensure better water conservation in the home.  For a product to be considered WaterSense certified, it must be 20 percent more water-efficient than average products on the market. The average American household spends up to $500 on water and sewage, but by installing water-efficient products such as showerheads, faucets and toilets, households can save up to $170 per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Like turning off the water while you brush your teeth, these small technological changes in our homes can help reduce our energy bills and leave the planet a little greener. It’s a win-win!