Saving energy, controlling energy use, recycling, downsizing were all topics of conversation for Boomers when they established Earth Day some 40 years ago. Today, especially in a slow economy retirement, they are even more dedicated to those topics. Their perspectives perspectives, however, may have changed somewhat. They may be thinking more about what kind of legacy they leave behind rather than participating in protesting marches, but the thoughtfulness and the determination remains.
As more baby boomers enter their retirement years they are looking to downsize their homes. With smaller homes to heat and cool the instant result is lower energy usage. Lighting smaller rooms means saving electricity. Becoming a one car family is also a possibility especially if the couple live in an urban setting. Besides, some retirees may not need two cars because they do many of their activities together.
Changing major appliances for something that saves energy and money is also a current boomer tendency. For instance, it seems that when boomers downsize and move into another residence, they often purchase the new water heaters that only heat water as it is used rather than heating a standing tank of water throughout the day. The initial cost of this green appliance is more than the standing water tank, but the energy savings during its life more than offsets the higher upfront price.
Interestingly, more boomers are working at home, sometimes by choice and more often these days, by company decision. Companies are looking to downsize also and they can shrink their operation costs by having employees work at home and attend teleseminar meetings on the Internet. Employees save money on commuting, money for office clothes, money for lunches and the snack machine. It takes a little adjustment but most boomers enjoy the change.
Some boomers have taken to drying their clothes on an outdoor line depending on climate. Interestingly, there are many communities which will not let you do that because it ruins the image of the neighborhood.
Placement of trees, shrubs, and ground cover plants can also help reduce your heating and cooling coasts. For instance, you can provide wind protection for with properly placed landscaping which will lower the wind chill near your home. Wind chill takes place when wind speed lowers the outside temperature.
The best windbreaks block wind close to the ground by using trees and shrubs that have low crowns. Also think about using evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and northwest side of your home to break the wind. Most landscaping, especially in the northern region, combines tress, bushes and shrubs. For example, evergreen trees combined with a wall, fence or earth berm, a natural or man made raised area of soil, can deflect or lift the wind over the home. One caution: do not plant evergreens too close to the south side of your home if you are counting on warmth from the winter sun.
If snow tends to drift where you live, plant low shrubs on the windward side so they will trap the snow before it blows next to your home. Planting shrubs, bushes and vines next to your house creates dead air spaces that insulate your home in summer and winter but be sure to leave at least one foot of space between the grown plants and the wall of your home.
Incorporating shading concepts in your landscape can also help reduce heating and cooling costs. Keep in mind that homes in cool regions may never overheat and may not require shading or only partial shading. Trees, for example, can be selected with appropriate sizes, densities and shapes for almost any shading application. They can block solar heat in the summer but let much of it in during the winter when they have lost their leaves. You can plant those deciduous trees with high branches to the south side of your home to provide maximum summertime roof shading. Trees with lower crowns are more appropriate to the west where shade is needed during the afternoon. For solar heated homes in cold climates, do not plant deciduous trees on the south side because they will block out the winter sun.
Trees, shrubs and ground cover plants can also shade the ground and pavement around the house. This not only reduces heat radiation and cools the air before it reaches the walls of your home but it also reduces the amount of grass you need to maintain. A good idea is to build a trellis for climbing vines to shade a patio area.