There’s a big green wave coming, and it’s hitting our homes. With sustainability now trending, many of us are joining in to make our homes eco-friendly. Who says you can’t make a difference from home, right?
A survey by Angi reveals that almost a quarter of homeowners are spending over $5,000 on green home upgrades. It sounds like a hefty sum, but here’s the good news: you can hop on the green bandwagon without breaking the bank.
This article is going to take you on a deeply green, budget-conscious journey, revealing seven affordable ways to adopt an eco-friendly vibe for your home. But before we dive into that, we’ll explore why this green switch is a change we should all consider.
Choosing the green route comes with benefits that extend far beyond simply saving the planet. The eco-friendly lifestyle is not only a goodwill mission, but it also delivers pretty practical paybacks.
Healthier Indoor Air Quality
Did you know that indoor air pollution is responsible for 3.2 million deaths per year? Fuel-burning combustion appliances, tobacco products, household chemicals, excess moisture, and your central heating and cooling systems all contribute to poor indoor air quality.
Sustainability’s emphasis on the use of eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient design ensures that your home maintains excellent air quality.
Eco-friendly homes advocate for better insulation, so it puts less strain on your HVAC systems, which results in lesser energy usage. This helps keep your indoor temperature comfortably stable year-round, regardless of how cold or hot the outdoors gets.
Huge Energy Savings
The biggest argument for going green is definitely the long-term savings. While some eco-friendly upgrades might require a considerable amount of initial investment, the money you save over the years can easily offset the cost of the upgrade.
The great thing is you don’t have to empty your wallet to start enjoying the perks of an eco-friendly home. If you’re tight on budget, the following low-cost, eco-friendly projects offer easy ways to get started.
1. Upgrade to a Tankless Water Heater
These modern marvels, also known as demand-type or instantaneous water heaters, work in real time. They heat up water directly from the source as and when you need it. This eliminates the need for storage tanks, leading to both space and energy savings.
The US Department of Energy (DoE) confirms that for homes utilizing around 41 gallons or 155 liters of water daily, a tankless water heater proves to be 24%–34% more energy-efficient than its traditional counterparts.
Even for households using around 86 gallons or 325 liters a day, they’re still 8%–14% more efficient. For reference, the average American household uses 300 gallons or 1,136 liters of water in a day. Switching to tankless could save you a significant amount of energy and money.
2. Install a Smart Thermostat
Almost half (46%) of the average household’s energy usage goes to heating and cooling the home. If you’re serious about saving energy, your HVAC system should be optimized and operating at its best.
Dirty filters, duct leaks, poor installation, and general lack of maintenance are the usual culprits behind a power-hungry HVAC. So, if your HVAC system is old, you might benefit from an upgrade to eco-friendly HVAC options that use non-toxic refrigerants and work alongside a central smart thermostat.
Smart thermostats also come with a convenient mobile app so you can control everything in one place. Plus, your air quality will improve! Eco-friendly HVAC systems have higher upfront costs than their traditional counterparts, but many states offer rebate programs that will help you cover the cost of installment.
You can easily recoup the entire cost while you enjoy your new HVAC system.
3. Install Smart Outlets or Use Smart Plugs
Most appliances or devices still use electricity even while “turned off.” This standby power, vampire power, or phantom load accounts for 5 %–10% of a household’s energy use.
Using smart outlets or smart plugs eliminates phantom loads by cutting off all power to the device completely when it’s not in use. It will cost you around $175–$250 per outlet to install a hardwired smart outlet, while you can buy a smart plug for as low as $15.
4. Seal Cracks around Exterior Windows and Doors
Drafty windows cause 25%–30% of an average household’s energy leakage. Sealing these openings keeps heated or cooled air from slipping out.
This does wonders for your HVAC system by lightening its workload, supporting uniform temperature throughout your home, and scaling down your overall energy use. As a result, you get to enjoy reduced utility bills each month.
5. Install Energy-Efficient Lighting
LED bulbs use 90% less energy than regular light bulbs. If you own a large house or depend so much on artificial lighting, this small change can have a noticeable impact on your household’s energy usage.
For an even greener approach, why not consider installing a skylight? This is especially beneficial in areas of your house that don’t get much sun. Skylights do more than just flood your rooms with natural light.
They can also ventilate your home, allowing in some fresh air and reducing the humidity that often gives rise to mold problems in damp areas. Depending on your home, installing a skylight can cost between $1,000 to $2,500.
6. Switch to a Pellet Stove
Looking for cheaper alternatives to heat your home in the cooler months? The US Department of Energy (DoE) recommends clean-burning, power-efficient pellet stoves.
One stove that has a 42,000 British Thermal Units (Btu) rating can heat a 1,300-square-foot home (and a 60,000 Btu stove can heat a 2,000-square-foot home).
Some models don’t require a flue or a chimney, some can be inserted into an existing fireplace, and some are free-standing. Pellet stoves cost anywhere between $1,500 and $7,000. Not factoring in the installation cost, it will cost you only $50 a month to use a pellet stove for 8 hours a day.
7. Plant Native Flora in Your Yard
A fantastic way to increase your curb appeal and purify the air around your home is to plant a garden. Plants are natural air cleansers, absorbing pollutants and enhancing the air quality around your home.
The beauty of choosing native plants is that they’re hardy little warriors. They’re acclimated to the local climate and have developed resistance to area-specific pests and diseases.
What’s more, they’re low maintenance! Native plants also attract helpful pollinators like butterflies and bees, ensuring your garden remains vibrant and thriving. Want to take your eco-efforts a step further?
Consider setting up bee boxes to provide a haven for your buzzing little helpers. It’s a small step that plays a huge role in supporting the local ecosystem.
Do a DIY Home Energy Assessment
Not sure where to begin? The best way to start any project is an assessment. You can hire a professional to identify which areas around your house would benefit from an eco-friendly upgrade. But if you don’t want to spend extra, you can do it on your own using the Department of Energy’s assessment list.
Being eco-conscious doesn’t have to cost you your entire life savings. Small and gradual changes can help you shave off hundreds of dollars in your energy spending. However, if you’re willing to bet in the future, you can look into projects that will give you the most cost-effective results.
Upgrades like installing solar power for your home, switching to dual-pane windows and metal roofing, or laying natural flooring can provide significant long-term benefits. While they require an initial investment, the cost can often be offset by incentives and tax rebates that many states offer.
So, going green can actually be a smart financial move in the long run. Every tiny step or big leap towards a greener lifestyle can make a huge difference, and the benefits extend way beyond just your wallet.