Bob PofahlAfter having all of our kids and grandkids home in Las Cruces, New Mexico for Thanksgiving last week, I’m convinced we could solve the world’s energy problems if we could just harness the energy of children! Until someone figures that out, we will need to focus on more practical solutions.

Previously, I’ve written about practical applications and green building solutions for new homes in New Mexico. It seems like existing homes are often excluded from the equation for going green. There are approximately 128 million existing homes in the US compared with 1 to 2 million new homes built on an annual basis. If we only include green features on new homes, it will take generations to make any difference.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until you’re ready to build a new home in New Mexico or around the country to start including green features. There are many simple ways for the existing New Mexico homeowner to go green. Here are just a few ideas that can help you save money and our natural resources this winter.

Insulation, weather stripping, caulking

Insulation is one of the best first steps in making your New Mexico home green. By insulating and sealing your attic and crawlspaces, you can save 20 percent of your heating and cooling costs. You can also insulate duct work that runs through spaces that get hot in summer or cold in winter, such as attics, garages or crawlspaces. Insulating duct work means your heater doesn’t have to work as hard this winter.

Another great place to take advantage of insulation is the back of your garage doors. Insulate them with the foil-backed foam insulation, which can be found in rolls at many home improvement stores. Weather stripping and caulking around doors, windows and the foundation of your home will prevent unwanted air from entering the home.

One of the easiest things you can do this winter is to insulate your hot water tank. Tanks can be insulated for as little as $20 with insulation blankets found at home improvement stores. These blankets reduce the amount of energy required to heat your hot water and then keep it warm.

The great thing about insulation, weather stripping and caulking, is that many of these products are available in biodegradable forms that don’t harm the environment.

Plumbing & System Maintenance

Plumbing fixtures are now available with water saving features that will help you save money in your existing home in New Mexico. Many new faucets and showerheads have low flow features that use less than half the water of traditional fixtures. Their advanced aeration design makes it feel like you’re getting more water than you’re actually using.  Read my Water Conservation post for more information conserving water in you home.

Photo by by Mick Wright

Even though Las Cruces, New Mexico has a very mild climate, heating and cooling system maintenance will keep your system running more efficiently throughout the year. It will also extend the life of your system. If you have an older thermostat, you can upgrade for as little as $30 to an Energy Star programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to set the temperature at a comfortable setting while you are at home, and then save energy by automatically changing the setting when you are at work. This simple and inexpensive upgrade can save you up to $200 on your energy bill.

Gradually Upgrade Your Home

Gradually upgrade all of your appliances, fixtures and bulbs. This would be very costly to do all at once, but if you gradually upgrade one item at a time you will begin to make your home a greener place.

When it is time to replace your appliances, make sure to purchase Energy Star certified products. In many cases, Energy Star products are the same price or just slightly more expensive. Any extra you pay for Energy Star products will come back to you in the form of savings on your energy bills.

Windows are another Energy Star product that can save you money and preserve the environment. You might not be building a new home, but replacing a few windows each year can revive your existing home and save energy. Solar screens or storm windows can also be installed on existing windows, if you’re not ready to do a full replacement.

As your old incandescent light bulbs burn out, try replacing them with energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). Depending on the size of your home, this could save up to $68 per year.

Green cleaning

Finally, green cleaning products are now readily available at affordable prices. Eliminating harmful chemicals from your cleaning products will make your home a safer, greener place to live.  If you are ambitious, there are also many resources online on how to make simple cleaning products at home.

Ultimately, whether you are building, buying or upgrading a home in New Mexico or elsewhere, education is key to selecting green products and technologies.

Have other ideas to make your existing home greener? What have you done to your home? Please leave a comment with your thoughts and ideas.

Picacho Mountain is proud to be Southern New Mexico’s only certified green community.  Contact us today at 575-523-2500 or click here for more information about the green homes at Picacho Mountain.



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