Going green has been a trending topic over the last decade and will continue to be one of the real estate industry's most talked about subjects moving forward. Unfortunately, many homeowners feel that improving the environmental friendliness of their home is an expensive and unattainable goal. The reality is that most green improvements actually save you money in the long run. So, as good weather returns and extra money from tax returns arrives, it's the perfect time to take a fresh look at green home projects you can do now--at different price points that will meet your specific budget.
1. Replace your traditional light bulbs with LED bulbs
The price of LED bulbs has fallen drastically in the last few years, but homeowners can still get sticker-shock at seeing the upfront cost of replacing all their light bulbs (anywhere from $2 to upwards of $30 each). That being said, due to their long life and significantly lower energy use, LED lights have the potential to save homeowners a significant amount of money over the course of their lifespan as well as decrease the overall amount of greenhouse emissions. Energy.gov states that "widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States." This is a simple step that any homeowner can take to make their home more green and save money. Depending on your budget, you can replace several of your most used bulbs at once or simply replace one at a time.
2. Seal your ducts
Experts estimate that air leakage from ducting in homes can reduce heating and cooling efficiency by 20-30%. Sealing ducts is a very inexpensive solution that can save you up to $100 per year in energy bills as well as decrease the burning of fossil fuels. Sealing ductwork can be a DIY project that anyone willing to put in a little work can do successfully. For less than $40 and a few hours of time, you can make your home more efficient and save money on cooling costs during the hot summer months that will soon follow.
3. Replace fixtures with low-flow options
Water heating is the 2nd largest energy expense, so those long showers can really add up. Not only does it cost you more on your monthly bill, it increases water usage, and burns fossil fuels to heat the water. Swap out your showerhead with a low flow option for as low as $20 and you will see immediate savings. You can also move to low-flow faucets to further improve your water and energy use.
4. Landscape using water-saving methods
Spring is the perfect time to update your landscaping. If conserving water and lowering your bill is important to you, seek out ways to make your yard more environmentally friendly too. Use drip systems to water flower beds or gardens rather than over the top irrigation, which uses considerably more water. Look into swapping out that grass parking strip for bark and plants, which conserves water and provides curb appeal. In dry climates, ditch some or all of the grass in favor of drought-resistant plants or xeriscaping. Depending on the size of lawn, these changes can save tens of thousands of gallons of water yearly.
5. Find a Green Builder
If you are truly committed to going green with your home and you are looking to move in the near future, building a new home might make the most sense for you. Green home builders are in high-demand because they can seal, insulate, and use the right products so that your home is as air-tight and energy efficient as possible. Doing this during the building process is usually more cost-effective than trying to do it later as a remodel. A Boise home builder recently stated, "Green Building means two things: homes that are easier on the planet, and easier on your wallet." If this is your philosophy and you have the means available, green home building might be the right option for you.
6. Replace Old Windows
A more expensive, but very beneficial green upgrade is replacing your old windows with energy efficient windows. New windows can make a substantial difference in the efficiency and comfort of your home. Estimates show that adding new double-paned windows can reduce heating costs by 15% and add savings of as much as $2000 over the life of the window; triple-paned windows can save even more. Low E (emissivity) coatings on your windows are also so energy efficient that they often completely pay for themselves in just a few years.
7. Consider investing in Solar Panels
Solar Panels have a high upfront cost, but government-sponsored tax rebates, the decreasing price of the technology, and competition in the industry have made solar panels an attainable goal for those seeking a green home. With the increasing cost of electricity nation-wide, solar panels provide a renewable form of energy that you can feel good about and can save you money long-term. While the vast majority of people see a great return on invest for solar panels, many factors influence how beneficial they will be, so be sure to talk to a professional in your area.
Whether you have a lot of money to spend or just a little, green home improvements are within your reach. Make changes today that will increase the value of your home, protect the earth, and add a little more money to your pocket.