Home Upgrades for Green Living

Home upgrades from foundation to roof build a home’s equity as well as the quality of life possible within it. The choices you make when planning upgrades can be environmentally responsible or catastrophic, so it helps to know which areas of the house most benefit from eco-friendly updates.

Illuminating Possibilities

Not only do energy-efficient lightbulbs use less energy, thus causing less drain on resources, but they are kinder to your electric bills than the alternatives.

Incandescent lights and CFLs are both harmful to the environment; they devour energy at greater rates than LEDs and contain hazardous chemicals and UV radiation that are hazardous to your health as well as the landfills they eventually arrive at.

LED lights lack toxins and boast more durability than traditional lightbulbs. They use up about 90% less energy and require replacement at much longer intervals. The emitted light of LED bulbs is of high quality and is naturally directional.

You can get a start by simply beginning to replace your burnt-out bulbs with LED replacements; they work for normal use as well as in holiday decorating and landscape illumination.

Cut Energy Use with a Tankless Water Heater

A traditional water heater continuously holds and heats a supply of water, keeping it on standby until hot water is required. If you don’t require that amount of heated water, then you are losing money on energy to maintain an excessive hot water supply.

A tankless water heater heats water as it is required while it passes through pipes, only using energy in the moment you need hot water. This also means you never run out of hot water, eliminating those moments of shocking cold in the shower.

While they are initially more expensive to buy and install than traditional tank heaters, tankless water heaters have many benefits and promise energy savings and improved longevity.

Upgrade the Windows to Dual Pane

Two panes are better than one when it comes to energy efficiency. Windows are important to homes; they do much more than give pleasant views. Natural light is important, and ventilation, fresh air, and temperature control are also provided by windows.

However, they bleed out the heated or cooled air you pay for the energy necessary to make your home more comfortable. A dual pane window not only offers twice the physical barrier to energy, but also the layer of gas between them, typically krypton or argon.

These gases are denser than air, giving improved insulation. While expensive initially, the Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit is a tax credit available to help cover the cost, and these windows can reduce your use of energy by as much as 24% during winters.

Get Plumbing Up to Date

Energy-efficient fixtures are a huge improvement to your home’s energy costs and demand upon the environment. Low-flow fixtures may require a bit of an adjustment period, but the results are significant.

One replacement you can make is a switch to low-flow toilets; these offer two options for flushing: one each for liquid waste and solid waste.

Even replacing a toilet from before the year 1994 with a new, standard toilet will reduce your water waste, as federal requirements changed fixture standards that year. Switch to a toilet model with the WaterSense label and watch your toilet water usage lessen by 20-60% each year.

Improve Your Roof

Two major projects for your roof will add up to energy savings and a home that is more environmentally friendly.

The first is to switch to a cooler option; when your roof reflects heat, rather than absorbing the energy, your home is easier to cool. Material and color both matter in this regard. Consider metal, which can mimic the appearance of other materials while lasting for decades.

The second project is the addition of solar panels. Roof panels or shingles, essentially creating a solar roof, are expensive but qualify for tax credits to lower the cost of installation. Installing a solar system cuts your energy costs by providing it for yourself.

Some programs even allow for excess energy to be sold to the local electric company. Solar power cuts greenhouse gas emissions, limits air pollution, and preserves water.

Choose Environmentally Responsible Materials

Irresponsibly sourced wood is devastating the rain forests as deforestation runs rampant to provide the U.S. and China with materials for home construction. Flooring is a prime example of a project that can be disastrous for the environment.

In addition to placing an unreasonable demand for wood on the environment, flooring often utilizes vinyl, which is cheap but comes with a high carbon footprint. You also cannot recycle vinyl, which has a short lifespan.

Greener flooring options include reclaimed wood, recycled tile, cork, linoleum, bamboo, stained concrete, and recycled rubber. You can use environmentally kind materials in counters and other surfaces as well as flooring.

Recycled materials are best, as are bio-based options like natural stones, quartz, agates, and concrete.

Update Appliances to Energy Efficient Options

Upgrading your appliances and opting for those that are smart with energy usage is a final excellent means of making your home more efficient both in environmental impact and impact on your finances.

The options may be intimidating at first, but some particular features should catch your eye. Smart apps that use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth can tell you how much energy their appliances are consuming.

Energy Star certification informs you that these products met standards of efficiency performance, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Everything from the dishwasher to a fireplace can be chosen for its energy efficient features to make your home more eco-friendly.

While often initially more expensive, eco-friendly options require less energy consumption and thus lower energy bills. Consider these seven guidelines for choosing green options in your next home improvement spree.

Elise Wu

Elise Wu, an alumna of Yale University with a degree in Environmental Policy, has spent more than two decades advocating for environmental protection and sustainable resource management. Before joining our website in 2019, she worked with various NGOs and governmental bodies, playing a key role in developing eco-friendly policies. Besides her professional pursuits, Elise is also a passionate hiker and loves nature photographer, often exploring the untamed wilderness to reconnect with the environment she tirelessly works to preserve.

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