The "Green" House Effect

Tips for making your home more eco-friendly.



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photograph by Illus9 | Dreamstime

In addition to providing information, MLGW’s Energy Doctor program provides customers with representatives in the field that personally verify homes and help inform customers. “Not everyone’s building; so, we have to be practical as far as what works for what you have,” says Janice Smythe-Tune, former energy doctor and current public relations coordinator at MLGW.

She explains how every household can make changes no matter how new or old using a Memphis home originally built in 1920 as an example. The homeowners, transplants to Memphis, have practiced energy-saving techniques for years and are proof that retrofitting an existing home is easier than one might think. They open windows to avoid using heat or air conditioning when possible, replaced doors with insulated, metal-core storm doors, have a programmable thermostat, use LED lightbulbs, and forgo their dryer, instead hanging clothes on a clothes line.

 “They use ceiling fans year-round, reversing the direction in the winter to bring heat down to the living space,” says Smythe-Tune. “Counterclockwise is for the summer; clockwise is for the winter.”

Older homes often don’t have sufficient insulation because building codes were different depending on when they were constructed. So the first tip is to add attic insulation. “We’re trying to put a coat on your house because houses were generally designed aesthetically, not for practicality or functionality,” says Smythe-Tune.

“In the summer, don’t lower your thermostat below 78, and in the winter not above 68. Otherwise it’s wasteful,” she says. This is where programmable thermostats are beneficial because they can be set accordingly to times of day and turn on and off based on when you know you’ll be at home.

“Water heating is the next on this list. We encourage people to lower the temperature because [water heaters] come out of the factory programmed at 140 degrees, and no one would subject their body to that. As you lower the temperature, you’re reducing the amount of energy the water heater has to generate,” says Smythe-Tune.

The benefits of practicing energy-saving techniques are significant and range from the obvious like helping the planet and cutting down on TVA’s energy output, to the not-so-obvious of lower utility bills, increased home value, reduced maintenance, and personal satisfaction. So whether your motivation is lower utility bills or saving the planet, these tips will help you get a better grasp on how you can make your house more energy efficient. 

For more energy-saving tips visit mlgw.com.

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