With the world in an unprecedented climate crisis, many of us wonder what we can do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint. A significant step can start right at home.
In Arlington, residential buildings account for 23% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. One way to reduce this is to make homes “net zero” energy — able to produce as much energy over the course of a year as they consume. This is done through heat pumps, a super-tight barrier between the inside and outside, above-code insulation, energy-efficient windows, lighting, appliances and solar power.
If you are looking to replace appliances, heating systems, build a new home, renovate or add another level to your home, then consider these seven things to guide your home toward carbon neutrality:
- Take advantage of Arlington’s free Green Home Choice program. This point-based program can walk you through decision making to ensure you are making the most impactful choices. On average, a Green Home Choice home uses 50% less energy than Arlington homes of the same size and saves between $600 and $1600 per year on utility bills.
- Select an architect and/or builder experienced in zero or near-zero energy construction.
- Consider using equipment that runs only on electricity when you are faced with having to replace items (e.g., stove, clothes dryer, water heater or furnace).
- Insulate and air seal as you build or renovate. Air leaks and anemic insulation are hallmarks of Arlington’s aging housing. A renovation gives you a chance to make significant comfort and energy efficiency upgrades.
- Upgrade your electrical panel and install a circuit sized for electric vehicle (EV) charging and other electric appliances. EVs are coming faster than most expect. If you are doing electrical work on your home or renovating, take this action now. Installing EV charging later can be more expensive and complicated without an upgraded panel.
- Have your roof screened for solar potential and install solar if your roof is right for it. Arlington’s solar co-op will start again in spring 2022 and can help with this. Thanks to the 300+ Arlington families that joined this year.
Mark your calendar for Nov. 4 for EcoAction Arlington’s Getting to Carbon Neutral at Home virtual event.