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Tips for energy efficiency

By Lori Johnston, Atlanta Journal-Constitution –

Spring is a good time to look at your “green” habits at home. Builders, remodelers, interior designers and real estate agents encourage ways to improve energy efficiency — “acts of green” — on your own turf.

From lighting to heating/air to appliances to accessories, here are their tips:

Keep the air filters clean

Heating and air can account for up to 30 percent of your utility bills. Make sure your air filters are clean and Freon is charged to proper levels. These two simple tips go a long way in keeping your energy bills down.

—Curtis Peart, principal, FrontPorch, Atlanta-based residential construction firm and builder of the 2012 HGTV Green Home at Serenbe

Change your light bulbs

In the past there was a push to convert from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent, however, I am encouraging our clients to look at LEDs now as well. We put them in our house, and the light quality is great, and they are rated to last up to 20 years while saving energy at the same time. What’s even better than energy-efficient lighting is turning off lights and other devices when not being used. By just turning things off, you can save 10 percent or more in utility cost.

—Matt Hoots, president, SawHorse, Atlanta-based residential remodeling firm

Install energy-efficient appliances

Fairly inexpensive things that will increase the energy efficiency but not necessarily be noticeable to a buyer are: Install a programmable thermostat, install insulation and install outlet insulators on exterior walls. One thing that will get a buyer’s attention and spruce up the kitchen would be to install all new Energy Star appliances. Buyers like new appliances, and Energy Star appliances will save energy and money.

—Randal Lautzenheiser, managing broker, Atlanta Intown Real Estate Services

Emphasize natural sunlight

Use minimal window coverings to maximize natural light. Paint your north-facing rooms in lighter colors to maximize sunlight in the winter months.

—Jillian Pritchard Cooke, interior designer and owner of BEE, an eco-friendly home furnishings store in Buckhead

Consider new ceiling fans

High-volume, low-speed fans are an excellent solution for the many loft owners in the city who have spacious rooms with high ceilings. These can run a couple thousand dollars with simple paybacks in the two-year range. Otherwise, ceiling fans can save homeowners up to 40 percent of their summer electric bill.

The super-efficient Emerson Midway Eco fan costs about $500.

—Burke Sisco, certified EcoBroker with Park Mason Brokers in Atlanta, who blogs at

Recycle for new decor

New pillow covers can freshen up a look. Some of my favorites are old, classic white lace covers that you would find at a place like Scott Antique Markets, or you can even have some made out of curtains, or even clothes. I have jeweled pillow covers that used to be a shirt.

—Naomi Mann, owner, Mann Made, an Atlanta-based sustainable interior design company

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