Greenovate Your Home

Greenovate Boston is a movement – a way for everyone in the City to work together to improve our planet, communities, businesses, and daily lives. Stemming from the City’s plan to reduce Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, Greenovate Boston will enable people to take simple steps that will make the City a better, greener place to live and work.

To learn more about Greenovate and how to make home improvements click here.

Fix your high energy bills

Reducing your energy use at home is one of the best ways you can save money. Weatherizing your home – i.e. filling air leaks, insulation, and more – can equate to more than one ton less of carbon pollution in the air. If everyone in Boston decided to replace one car trip a week with public transit or biking, we’d reach our climate action goals almost five years earlier and take the equivalent of 100,000 cars off the road.

To get started, the City of Boston’s Renew Boston program offers home energy assessments at no cost if you live or rent in a 1-4 unit building. That means a home energy professional sponsored by the City of Boston will check your home for opportunities to save money, such as insulation or air sealing. The contractor will also offer the opportunity to replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient bulbs, give you a free programmable thermostat, and offer water and faucet aerators on the spot. Either fill in the form below or call 617-635-SAVE to receive your energy assessment at no cost. Note that these energy assessments are also available to those who live outside Boston.

After a city-approved contractor checks out your home, you can decide if you want to continue with the weatherization and insulation of the household. Residents can get 75% off – up to $2,000 – for insulation and air sealing.

Earn less than $40,000?

Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) provides fuel assistance, weatherization, and appliance replacements at no cost for those earning 60% or less of the state median income. Call (617) 357-6012 or visit the Energy Department in downtown Boston at 178 Tremont Street, 4th floor, Boston, MA 02111 to enroll.

For more information, visit GreenovateBoston.org

Cold wash / Air dry

airdry

Dishwashers and laundry machines waste a significant amount of water and energy. For example, each time you use your dishwasher, you can waste up to two pounds of CO2. And according to the New York Times, nearly three quarters of our greenhouse gas emissions from washing laundry comes from heating the water. An essential action for reducing waste is to always use cold water with these machines. Hot water rarely disinfects more than cold water, and is really only useful when your clothes have stains.

The Hot Water Myth

You’ve probably heard that hot water is a better disinfectant than cold. In fact, water doesn’t kill things off unless it boils. Even then, bacteria usually only dies around 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit- and your washers never get that hot. Moreover, soap is the prime ingredient for killing off bacteria.

However, hot water does get stains out better than cold water. So for dishwashers, cold water is always preferable when washing dishes – in fact, you can buy cold-water detergents that are designed for cold temperatures. For laundry, use hot water only when you have stains in clothing.

Don’t forget! When a washer or dryer breaks down, always replace your laundry machines and dishwashers with ENERGY STAR-labeled devices.

Air Dry

Air dry both your laundry and dishes as often as you can. Line-drying or using a clothes rack next to a sunlit window will help clothes to dry faster. And air drying dishes is what most Americans do already!

Reduce Your Use

The most important thing you can do is to use these machines sparingly. Always try to use these machines with full loads if possible. Remember – your dishes and clothes are going to get cleaned anyways, so it doesn’t hurt to leave them around a little longer so that you can run a full load.

For more information, visit GreenovateBoston.org

 

Tweak your thermostat

You can drastically lower your carbon footprint and utility bills with just a twitch of the finger. Over half of Boston’s climate emissions come from buildings, and heating and cooling account for a large part of those emissions. Click on the options below to expand.

Insulate and weatherize first

By weatherizing (i.e. sealing air leaks, installing insulation) your home, your thermostat will turn off automatically much more often. A well-weatherized home can maintain a comfortable temperature without turning the boiler on!

Turn your heat off earlier

Even though April was a warmer month than November and December, high energy users used much more money and energy to heat their homes in April than in November and December. Try to leave your heating off permanently by early April. Try and use your A/C as little as possible.

Get a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat will make it easy to manage your home’s temperature. For example, in the winter, a smart thermostat will make sure the house is warm right when you wake up instead of after you wake up. A smart thermostat can also turn the heat down automatically when you’re not around. MassSAVE, a state and utilities partnership, will pay $25 of the cost of a thermostat or call 1-800-232-0672. National Grid is also offering a $100 instant rebate on NEST – a “learning thermostat” – that programs itself and allows for many more features.

You can handle two more degrees, right?

In the winter, turning your heat down just by one or two degrees can make a big difference in your energy and money. Wearing a sweater and slippers at home can keep you comfortable even at temperatures below 65 degrees! In the summer, try and leave your air conditioning off, turning it on only when the outside temperature is more than 87 degrees. At work, ask your property manager to see if he can raise the temperature by just one degree.

What are your tactics for controlling your thermostat in the winter and the summer?

For more information, visit GreenovateBoston.org

 

Green your yard or lawn

green_lawn

There is so much you can do to green your home, inside and out. Having a sustainable landscape is important to water quality, local animal and plant life, and your wallet. By mimicking a natural landscape in your own yard, you can eliminate the need for toxic chemicals and irrigation, provide a habitat for New England flora and fauna, and save money! Here are some tips on how to make your yard a sustainable landscape.

Native plants are a low-maintenance, eco-friendly choice for your landscape. They typically do not require much watering, beyond what Mother Nature already provides, or harsh chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. They also support local flora and fauna. Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) has compiled a basic list of plants native to New England. Non-native species can sometimes become invasive, taking over and destroying habitats beyond where they were originally planted. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife offers more information on invasive species, including a list of invasive plants to avoid.
While some would say the greenest thing you can do to your lawn is to get rid of it, there are many actions you can take to make your existing lawn more sustainable. Large, lush lawns are usually frowned upon because of they lack biodiversity, and also thirst for water and petro-based chemicals. Having a small lawn with more of your yard dedicated to a variety of native plants is a great place to start. You can reduce the need for chemicals and water by keeping your grass longer, applying compost, and aerating. Managing your lawn without chemicals is doable, especially if you can learn to tolerate dandelions and clovers (which bees love to turn into honey!). Cornell Cooperative Extension school has developed a two-page, year-long organic lawn care plan that will help get your lawn off the toxic chemicals, thus keeping your kids, pets, and our water safe. Also, check out these informative videos from the US EPA with tips for watering, managing weeds and pests, aerating and mowing your lawn.
Native plants are a low-maintenance, eco-friendly choice for your landscape. They typically do not require much watering, beyond what Mother Nature already provides, or harsh chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. They also support local flora and fauna. Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) has compiled a basic list of plants native to New England. Non-native species can sometimes become invasive, taking over and destroying habitats beyond where they were originally planted. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife offers more information on invasive species, including a list of invasive plants to avoid.
Did you know gas-powered lawn mowers emit as much pollution in one hour as driving a new car over 100 miles? Emissions from lawn mowers, chain saws, pressure washers, leaf blowers and other outdoor motorized equipment are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. In 2007, EPA announced that lawn mowers and other garden equipment account for up to five percent of the nation’s air pollution and a good deal more in urban areas. Instead of a gas-powered mower, consider the various options for gasoline-free garden equipment. If you have a small lawn, or just want a good work-out, try a traditional push mower. There are also many choices for electric- and solar-powered lawn and garden tools, which have the added benefit of being easier to start! Whatever you choose, make sure you recycle your old equipment!
The City of Boston has a lot of great parks and open space; but like any city, most of our land has been built upon or paved over, leaving little land to absorb rainwater. When all of our rainwater goes into the stormwater system, it ends up in the ocean and doesn’t recharge our groundwater supplies. In many neighborhoods in Boston, low groundwater levels are a real problem. By capturing and reusing rainwater on site, you can save money on irrigation and help recharge groundwater. Rain barrels are a great option for capturing and reusing rainwater runoff from a gutter downspout. Rain gardens and bio swales can capture runoff from paved areas such as parking lots or roads.
Strategically planting trees or large shrubs can boost your homes energy efficiency. By planting deciduous shade trees on the west and southwest side of buildings, you can reduce your cooling cost in the summer by up to 47 percent! For keeping warm in the winter, plant evergreen trees as windbreaks on the north-northeast side of the building to reduce heat loss from winter winds. Check out the City’s guide for tree planting and this guide from Utah State University for planting trees in the right place for energy conservation.

Have you made the switch to greening your landscape?

For more information, visit GreenovateBoston.org