Green building and sustainable home improvements are becoming more popular for several reasons. Instead of spending money on projects that will increase waste, those who opt for green home improvements are actually saving money in the long run. Sustainable home improvements are not just making a splash with the eco-friendly crowd: The thrifty and even the trendy are now seeing the benefits that come with energy-efficient appliances, projects, and retrofitting. If you’re looking for some quick and easy ways to save energy at home, here are a few things to consider:
1. Small Sustainable Home Improvements
While solar panels and geothermal heat pumps might be the green home improvements of choice for those with the funds to buy them, several smaller sustainable home improvements are possible using only the most minimal of investments.
Quite possibly the cheapest and most effective green “home improvement” you can make is to replace all of your old light bulbs with Energy Star-qualified, fluorescent bulbs. The investment is small, and effort is minimal, but the results are astounding. If you were to replace every bulb in the house with one of these highly efficient bulbs, you’ll use up to 75 percent less energy (and reduce the frequency of replacing them, as they last up to 10 times longer).
While switching light bulbs might be the easiest of the easy sustainable home improvements, these other projects aren’t far behind. Replace your showerheads and faucets with low-flow models to conserve water. Install ceiling fans to cool off living spaces without running an energy-hogging cooling system. And remember to fix your heating, cooling, and plumbing systems as soon as you notice a problem to save on both energy and utility bills.
2. Energy-Efficient Electronics and Appliances
Another great green home improvement idea is purchasing energy-efficient appliances when it comes time to replace. The government’s Energy Star program makes spotting energy-efficient appliances easy, and the Energy Star label can be found on devices of all sizes, from microwaves to hot water heaters.
The Energy Star label doesn’t stop with appliances, either. Energy Star rated computer products, including desktop and notebook (or laptop) computers, game consoles, integrated computer systems, desktop-derived servers, and workstations are expected to save consumers and businesses more than $1.8 billion in energy costs during the next five years. They could also prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual emissions of 2.7 million vehicles. See what a few small choices can do?
3. Small Green Home Improvements During Major Remodels
Again, solar panels and geothermal heat are two of the most championed and prized sustainable home components around, but they are far from the only eco-friendly things you can consider during a large remodel.
Insulation is a huge factor in making a home more energy efficient. Better insulation means less heat transfer, and less heat transfer translates into less energy consumed to make your home comfortable, no matter the time of year or the region you live in. There are many very effective forms of insulation on the market, but cellulose insulation is truly one to consider putting money into, as it can be made from recycled newspaper.
Speaking of recycling, one of the most sustainable home improvement practices on the planet is taking materials that would otherwise be discarded and putting them to another use. Reclaimed lumber (harvested from condemned buildings rather from a forest), and salvaged fixtures can each be used in a new setting; some of these items are not only beautiful and structurally sound, but carry a history with them that will bring a sense of authenticity to a new remodel. Even brick pavers and chunks of concrete salvaged from road construction are now being used for residential driveways, walks, and landscaping. Using these materials in your remodeling project can sometimes save you money (good news for you!), but in every case, their use will waste less energy. That’s great news for all of us.