Features of a Sustainable Home
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Install energy-efficient LED light bulbs. Generally, LED bulbs are 90% efficient, CFL bulbs 85% efficient, while incandescent bulbs are only 10% efficient. Keep and eye out for an ENERGY STAR seal which means the product meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Go to the ENERGY STAR website to find efficient light bulbs, determine your cost savings, and find rebates.
Residential homes can also conduct a Home Energy Squad visit in coordination with Xcel Energy and Center for Energy and Environment which will change out all of your light bulbs to LED bulbs.
Weatherization could include air sealing, exterior wall and attic insulation, moisture control, and ventilation. Conduct a Home Energy Squad visit to determine what weatherization measures can be taken on your home. At the audit, a blower door test will be performed to determine any air leaks and an inspection of home insulation will be completed to determine if any improvements can be made. Learn more about weatherization here.
Off-Peak Electric Meter
If you are a high-energy user during the off-peak times then an off-peak meter might be a good choice for you. The off-peak times are 10:00 pm to 6:30 am. You would pay a lower rate during off-peak times and a higher rate during peak times. Learn more at Xcel Energy.
Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP)
ASHPs can save MN homeowners 30%-55% on home heating costs and can operate efficiently to as low as -20° F and can now operate with dual heat sources. More information on ASHPs can be found here. Rebates and incentives are also available now to transition to ASHPs which can be found here.
Heat Recovery Ventilation
Energy recovery ventilation systems provide a controlled way of ventilating a home while minimizing energy loss. Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) or energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems transfer heat or coolness from stale exhaust air to fresh intake air. Both types include a heat exchanger. This balanced ventilation solution removes excess moisture, odors, and contaminants while conserving energy and enhancing comfort. More information on energy recovery ventilation systems can be found here.
Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH)
HPWHs are similar to Air Source Heat Pumps where the system uses electricity to move heat from outdoor air into indoor water. HPWHs use electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. These are efficient systems compared to the traditional water heaters. More information on HPWHs can be found here and here.
Low-Flow Water Fixtures
These fixtures installed on your faucets and showerheads can reduce your water consumption and save on your water bill. Look for WaterSense labels when purchasing new faucets, showerheads, and even toilets that meet the EAP criteria. Making the transition to WaterSense fixtures can save the average family 700 gallons of water per year. More information can be found on the EPA website.
Install Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans can reduce the need to heat your home to save money and energy. Fans cool people, not rooms, so fans should ideally be installed 7-9 feet from the floor and 10-12 inches below the ceiling. If you purchase a new fan, ensure that the fan has earned the ENERGY STAR ® rating. Find more information on the benefits of ceiling fans and how to purchase an efficient fan here.
A smart thermostat allows a homeowner to set a heating/cooling schedule and the system can be controlled by your phone for convenience. Even if you go on vacation you can set a specific schedule for that period of time. This allows homeowners to increase heating/cooling efficiency and to save on energy costs. During a Home Energy Squad visit a smart thermostat can be installed for free or at a reduced rate. Schedule a Home Energy Squad visit here.
Electric & Energy Star Appliances
Installing new equipment that is electric and efficient like ENERGY STAR products can save on energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve indoor air quality. You can find a list of ENERGY STAR products here.
Green roofs can be installed on roofs to reduce stormwater runoff, lower building energy costs, and provide many other benefits.
Roof or ground-mounted solar can be installed to create renewable energy for your home. There are significant cost savings associated with the installation of solar while providing a clean energy source. Many companies offer solar installation services that can be found online.
Strategically placed awnings can provide additional shade during the summer months and wind barriers during the winter months to reduce energy needs of your home. Retractable awnings can also be a good option for specific locations around your home to provide shade when desired.
EV Charging Station
EV charging stations can be installed to allow for electric vehicles (EVs). The use of EVs reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector significantly especially with the continued transition to renewable energy sources. There are many different companies that offer EV charging station installation services.
Rain barrels can be used to collect rainwater from your gutter system to be used for irrigation during times without rain. The barrels also reduce stormwater runoff since they will collect the rainwater that normally runs into the stormwater sewer system. Additional information on rain barrels can be found at the Minnesota Stormwater Manual.
Permeable pavers/pavement can be used for a driveway surface to allow stormwater to run through the surface instead of collecting in the stormwater sewer system. This type of system requires specific installation practices and continued maintenance. Additional information can be found at the Minnesota Stormwater Manual.
The use of a light-colored pavement material or cool pavement can reflect more solar energy which can help to reduce the heat island effect in more urban/developed areas.
Planting trees around your can provide a multitude of benefits including; reducing energy costs by providing shade, acting as a windbreak during the winter, reduce soil erosion, reduce stormwater runoff, improves air quality, creates wildlife habitats, along with many other benefits. Learn how to plant trees at the MN Department of Natural Resources and the University of MN Extension. You can also learn about the benefits of your existing trees and find the best location to plant future trees with the i-Tree tool. Refer to Wayzata’s Tree Preservation Ordinance for more information on how to remove and plant trees in Wayzata. You can also contact the Wayzata City Forester at 952-404-5366.
Planting your own garden leads to environmental, health, and social benefits. An urban garden will reduce transportation needs, reduce heat island effect, decrease industrial agricultural methods, create healthy foods for you and your family, and research shows significant social benefits. Tips on a creating an urban garden can be found on the MN Department of Health website.
Installing an efficient or “smart” sprinkler system can reduce the amount of water needed on your lawn or garden which will also save you money on your water bill. Smart controllers can be utilized can adjust the sprinkler system to the weather conditions and soil moisture content to ensure your lawn or garden receives the water it needs to thrive. Find more information on irrigation efficiency on the Met Council website.
No Mow/Low Mow Grass/Native Landscaping
Seeding your lawn with fine fescues which is known as no-mow or low-mow grass can reduce the amount of maintenance required to keep a healthy looking lawn. Additional options for a yard can be planting a bee lawn or with native planting options. A great resource to transition your lawn is the Lawns to Legumes program which provides additional information on how to install pollinator-friendly native plantings in residential lawns.
Rain gardens are essentially grassy depressions with specific plants installed to collect stormwater runoff to prevent the water from flowing directly into lakes, rivers, and wetlands. Additional information on the benefits of rain gardens and how to install a rain garden can be found at the University of MN Extension webpage and the MN Stormwater Manual.
Composting is a process that allows naturally occurring microbes to convert yard waste, such as leaves and grass clippings, or other organic materials to a useful organic soil amendment or mulch. Information on how to compost at your home and specific compostable materials can be found at the University of MN Extension site. You can also find a community compost facility here.
Electric Yard Tools
Maintaining your lawn with electric tools will produce less greenhouse gas emissions compared to gas-powered options. The electric-powered tools are also easier to use year round. These tools are common for purchase at your local hardware store.