Is your house full of holes? Homes and businesses built decades ago are now, more likely than not, producing drafty nights and oven-like days. The reason? Air is constantly escaping from poorly designed windows or poorly insulated roofs. And if your home fits that description, modern weatherization could save you hundreds of dollars over time. A simple caulking gun, available at any hardware store, used to seal up windows and doors, can be a great way to save money. Not only do leaky, inefficient buildings contribute to 35 percent of our national greenhouse gas emissions, they are expensive to heat and cool.
Home energy audits can help find other ways of saving. These programs—still rare but growing—send trained professionals to help homeowners and renters reduce their energy costs, either by upgrading lighting, improving thermostat sensitivity or installing better motors in heating and cooling units. In some states, this kind of work is even being subsidized. (Visit Get Energy Smart for information on residential programs.)
Weatherization brings jobs, too. The Win-Win Campaign, for example (recently awarded a Climate Change Solutions Grant from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation) is training folks to perform door-to-door audits as “community energy consultants” in New York and soon in other cities. Small businesses can also check out the National Resources Defense Council’s “greening advisor” page for tips and support on construction, purchasing and other areas related to green buildings. At the very least, paint your roof white—its reflective properties will keep your home or apartment cool all summer.
Covers the White House and Washington for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.