6 low-cost, green home improvements you can make right now
Going green doesn't mean having to spend thousands of dollars on your home to get off to a great start. There are small steps you can take that can save you money and help the environment.
Invest in a smart thermostat
Adding a smart thermostat allows you to better control home heating and cooling. At an expense of $200 to $500 installed, a programmable thermostat can be set to automatically change the temperature in your home depending on your needs and comfort levels. Plus, many smart thermostats can be controlled through a phone app when you're away from home in order to further reduce energy consumption. All told, this device can decrease your energy bills by 10% and pays for itself in less than three years.
Caulk and weatherstrip your home
By applying caulk and installing weatherstrip, you can save an additional 5% to 10% on your energy costs. Feel for drafts in the baseboard, vents, fans, window frames and other areas where air can get in. Caulk or freshly re-caulk air leaks and add weatherstrip around doors and windows. Older homes are especially susceptible to these costly leaks.
Upgrade your insulation
Insulation reduces the loss of home heating in winter and decreases heat gain in summer. According to the Department of Energy, a properly insulated and air-sealed home can save up to 50% on heating and cooling.Footnote1
Start with your attic, where proper insulation will have the greatest impact, then move on to your basement and exterior walls. The most common insulation materials are fiberglass, cellulose and foam plastic, all of which are available in rolls, batts, board, spray and loose-fill. Spend time researching to determine which materials are best for your home.
Switch to low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets
With our changing climate causing drought and water shortages in many regions, water conservation is no small matter. In comparison to older showerheads, which use up to five gallons a minute, low-flow models are designed to use less than two gallons per minute. Similar water savings hold true for low-flow sink faucets too.
Toilets are an even larger consumer of water, accounting for about one-third of home water use. Older toilets, especially those built before 1982, use from five to seven gallons per flush (gpf). New toilets, by law, can use no more than 1.6 gpf and high-efficiency toilets use 1.28 gpf. For a family of four, newer toilets alone can reduce water consumption by 15,000 gallons a year.
Enjoy the breeze with ceiling fans
Regarding comfort and energy use, ceiling fans are a great addition to a home. They get air flowing, rather than changing a room's temperature.
In conjunction with your air conditioning, ceiling fans can make a room feel up to five degrees cooler. As a result, you can raise the temperature on your A/C without feeling any warmer. Even in the winter, set on its lowest setting, a ceiling fan can circulate the rising warmer air to warm up the room.
Plant trees to protect your home
In addition to providing beauty and privacy, properly placed trees can help cool down your house in the summer and block cold winds in the winter.
Deciduous trees, those that lose their leaves in the fall, can reduce air conditioning usage by shading your house. Plant deciduous trees on the east side of your home to block the morning light and on the west side to protect against afternoon sun. They can also be used to cool your driveway and air conditioner unit. Evergreen trees planted on the north and northwest sides of your home reduce heating costs by creating a windbreak against winter weather.
For your savings account and the environment, these recommendations are win-win investments.
A note from your lending specialist
A home equity line of credit could help with a wide range of green home solutions, from ceiling fans to Low-E windows to solar panels. Please contact me if you're interested.
1 MODERN ENERGY EFFICIENCY, North American Modern Building Alliance (NAMBA), 2022. Accessed September 2022.
MAP5008270 | 10/2022