By Jane Blanchard
The tight space requirements of a home in Manhattan can present unique challenges for owners who wish to perform budget-conscious upgrades to improve the efficiency of their places by going green. While the environment in the borough may not afford homeowners the chance to build large solar arrays, there are opportunities to make a residence in Manhattan a little greener without breaking the bank.
One surprisingly simple approach to making a residence greener can be to update the windows. Modern windows are often more energy efficient than designs that were available even a decade ago. Larger windows can also allow more light into a space, and that can help homeowners trim their electric bills by making greater use of available natural light
The process of installing a new window also offers the opportunity to check the efficiency of the frame and surrounding areas. Insulation can be added to these locations to improve their overall energy efficiency.
Tankless Water Heaters
Old water heaters are often less than optimal systems, and replacing one with a modern and efficient tankless unit can be a very eco-friendly choice. These system consume less water and are less prone to leaking. They also reduce consumption of the natural gas or electricity required to heat them, thanks to no longer needing to heat a store of water in order to provide instant hot water.
Many older lighting systems in homes are outdated, and they can be heavy consumers of electricity. Fixtures should be checked to see that they’re only using modern fluorescent bulbs.
Energy Star Appliances
Appliances are among the biggest consumers of energy in many homes, and older appliances should be replaced with new ones that have received the Energy Star label. New stoves, washers and dryers can reduce gas and electric consumption, and a low-flow toilet can have a huge impact on how much water a family uses over the course of a year.
Modern home automation systems can help reduce the amount of energy consumed by a family. Automated thermostats are now designed to adjust the temperature when no one is in the home, and they can be configured to compensate accordingly before a family is expected to return.
A home energy audit can reveal surprising things about a place, and often the simplest solution is to replace and upgrade the insulation. Modern blown insulation systems allow contractors to provide more thorough coverage than ever before, and new types of insulation often have higher energy efficiency values than types that were used even one or two generations ago.
While not an upgrade in the strictest sense, it’s always a good idea to check that all systems in a home are in top operating condition. For example, air conditioning units need new filters installed regularly, or else the old filter can become clogged and reduce the efficiency of the system. Sometimes a system doesn’t require an upgrade, and a little maintenance can be the most affordable solution available.
For more home design ideas and inspiration, head to Modernize.com.