For Families & Individuals

The Green House: Sustainability at Home

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​​​​Whether you live alone or in a shared house, in single family home or a multi-unit complex, o​​wn or rent,  this page provides information about bringing sustainability into your home. 

Sustainable homes are not only better for the planet, but offe​r opportunity for great cost savings and health improvements.​​ On this page, you can learn more about: 


​A2ZERO Sustainability Concierge

​​​​​Want to do more around your home, but don't know where to start? The soon to be launched Sustainability Concierge may be just what you're looking for! The Office of Sustainability and Innovations will soon be offering this service to assist those looking to enhance energy efficiency, electrify their homes/apartments, add renewable energy, and/or explore battery storage. To learn more or ask your questions, please send a note to sustainability@a2gov.org​

​​Energy Efficiency

Improving the energy efficiency of your home can bring substantial benefits. Sealing your home can improve comfort by eliminating drafts in the winter and mugginess in the summer. Energy efficiency upgrades can also improve the resale value of your home, while saving you money on your energy bills. Finally, lowering your energy usage reduces greenhouse gas emissions and can improve indoor air quality, comfort, health, and safety.


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​How to Save Energy and Money

There are many options for improving the energy efficiency of your home. We have compiled a list of the top 5 ways to save money and energy:

  1. Find and seal air leaks. Air leakages into and out of your home can account for 30% of a home's heating and cooling costs; that's a lot of wasted money. According to ENERGY STAR, sealing and insulating the “envelope" or “shell" of your home – its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors – is often the most cost-effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort.
  2. Insulate the attic and basement. Insulation prevents the transfer of heat between your house and the outside. 
  3. Replace appliances with EnergyStar appliances. Since 1990, the efficiency of refrigerators has improved by >60%, dishwashers by >50%, and laundry machines by >75%. This can translate to hundreds of dollars in energy savings per year. 
  4. Switch to LED lighting. Switching your incandescent or compact florescent lamp (CFL) bulbs to LEDs can save up to 85% of lighting costs and last as long as 25 years.
  5. Upgrade heating and cooling appliances. More than half of the energy used in your home likely comes from heating and cooling, which makes it important to tackle if you'd like to save energy and reduce your utility bills. Replacing your old heating furnace with modern 95% efficient units can save 10-15% on your heating costs. If your central air conditioner is more than 12 years old, replacing it with one that is EnergyStar qualified can reduce your cooling costs by 30%.​ And even better, explore a heat pump to go all electric! 

​Finding a Contractor

Many improvements are best left to professionals who are certified, have the proper tools, conduct tests before and after renovation, and can obtain the right rebates and incentives. Home energy professionals can become your trusted partners in an energy efficiency renovation project, and helping their customers achieve long-term energy savings with their projects. Check out Michigan Saves to find a qualified contractor.

Also check out the Washtenaw County's Weatherization Assistance Program​, which provides free weatherization services to qualified Wasthenaw County residents. 

Home Energy Assessments

In many cases, the first step contractors will take is to perform a home energy assessment (often called an “energy audit"), which will identify the top priorities for reducing your home's energy use. A certified energy auditor can examine your home's insulation, air tightness, heating/cooling systems and other sources of energy consumption. The energy auditor can perform diagnostic testing to determine the best ways to upgrade your home's energy performance and provide guidance on taking a whole-house approach. Check out Michigan Saves or DTE to find details about getting an energy audit. 

Looking for even more ways to make your home maximally efficient. Check out the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency Home Design​. ​

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Water Efficiency

85% of our drinking water comes from the Huron River. Ann Arbor's Water Treatment Plant treats and distributes 28 million gallons per day of local surface and groundwater for businesses and residents. All that water is then treated at the Wastewater Plant and returned to the Huron River. The urban forest and stormwater conveyance systems play a critical role in managing stormwater and improving water quality.

What can you do?

In the Bathroom

  • Take shorter showers.
  • Draw less water for baths.
  • Don't use the toilet as a trash can: tissues, cotton balls, etc., should be thrown in the garbage, not flushed.
  • Turn off water while brushing teeth.
  • Fix a leaky faucet.

In the Kitchen or Laundry

  • Only run the dishwasher for full loads.
  • Don't let the faucet run to get a cold drink, keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead.
  • Only run the washing machine for a full load of clothes.
  • Wash clothes in cold water (more of an energy saving tip).

Outdoors

  • Only water the lawn and garden when it needs it. One inch of water every 10 days keeps lawns healthy and green. Water at cooler times like at night or early in the morning to prevent evaporation.
  • Cut the grass at least 3 inches high to shade the roots, so that it will be more drought tolerant and won't need to be watered as often.
  • When washing your car or your bicycle, use a bucket and a hose with a nozzle so that water isn't running all the time.
  • Sweep the driveway and sidewalk with a broom rather than using a hose. ​

A2ZERO Green Rental Efficiency Initiative

Over 50% of all housing units in Ann Arbor are rentals. This means that efforts to reduce our energy consumption and achieve carbon neutrality need to have a strong focus on improving the efficiency of our rental stock. That is why Ann Arbor is launching a Green Rental Efficiency Initiative. This program aims to add energy efficiency requirements into the existing City rental licensing process, thereby ensuring that every rental unit in Ann Arbor meets a minimum energy efficiency and safety performance standard. Trainings, rebates, and financing support are also being created to aid the transition to greater efficiency in our rental units. For more information or to get involved, contact Zach​.  

 A2ZERO Time of ​Marketing Ordinance

Purchasing a home is the largest investment most of us will ever make. When making that investment, we believe individuals should have information related to the home's energy performance. That is why staff in OSI are working with the Energy Commission and members of the public to create a Time of Marketing Ordinance. This Ordinance would require that a Home Energy Score be provided to all potential home buyers. The Home Energy Score (it's kind of life a miles per gallon rating on cars) estimates home energy use, associated costs, and provides energy solutions to cost-effectively improve the home's efficiency. ​ To learn more or to get invovled, contact Josh​

Aging in Place Efficiently

The soon to be launched Aging in Place Efficiently program helps low-income seniors age in a place of their choosing for longer by providing physical and energy efficiency improvements to their residences. More specifically, this program combines energy efficiency improvements into a wide variety of existing services available to help seniors age in place. Grants funds are available to support physical improvements in at least 25 senior homes. Individuals interested in learning more or joining the program should email Galen​

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