No matter what color of paint you have on the side of your house, it’s a good bet that your home could stand to be a little bit “greener.” However, even though most of us would love to save the environment (and save a bit of money in the process), the truth is that many would-be environmentalists are prevented from making a difference in their own homes simply because they don’t know where to start. Well, have no fear, because here are five home improvements that you can make, that will not only help you and your family be more green, but will also help you save a bit of green in the process.
1. Improve insulation
The most important bit of advice that we can offer in relation to heating or cooling your home is this: Only heat and cool your home . That is to say, make sure that all of that expensive climate control isn’t seeping out through poorly insulated walls and roofs, leaky ducts, or gaps around doors and windows. Shoring up these weaknesses will keep you from wasting energy, and will also end up saving you as much as 40% on your monthly utility bill. Consider hiring a qualified technician to conduct a full energy assessment of your house, so that you’ll be able to identify the problem areas that may need to be better insulated. Also, remember that blown-in insulation and fiberglass compress over time, so the older your house is, the less efficient your insulation may be. Consider taking a trip up to the attic and bringing along a can of spray foam and filling any gaps.
2. Replace conventional light bulbs
Around the world, governments are phasing out the use of conventional incandescent light bulbs. Considering that incandescents only convert about 20% of the energy they use into visible light (the rest is given off as heat) and only last for about 1,200 hours before burning out, maybe pulling them off of the shelves isn’t such a bad idea. On the other hand, once incandescents are no longer available, homeowners will still have a choice. Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are being touted as a green alternative to conventional bulbs, but they’re actually anything but. CFLs may last longer and reduce overall waste, but they contain dangerous chemicals that can seep into the ground water once they reach the end of their lives and are thrown out. Instead, opt for LED bulbs; they can last for decades, consume less energy, and won’t poison your family should one break in your living room.
3. Switch to low-flow plumbing fixtures
Thanks to the water cycle, the planet earth has just as much water now as it will once the sun expands and our atmosphere is blown off into space. However, even though our water isn’t going anywhere, we do only have a finite amount of clean drinking water at any given time. In order to provide for the increasing needs of the world’s population, water is constantly being treated and purified so that it will be safe for humans to use. This process requires energy, so anything that we can do to cut back on the amount of water we use directly benefits the environment. With all of that in mind, did you know that a conventional toilet can waste up to five gallons of water with every flush? Other fixtures aren’t any better, with conventional showerheads wasting 4.5 gallons every minute. By replacing these fixtures with low-flow alternatives, homeowners can help conserve precious water, while also flushing a large part of their monthly utility expenses down the drain.
4. Invest in home automation
It may seem counter intuitive, but the more you rely on home automation, the less energy you actually use. Think about it: What is it that wastes the most energy in your home? If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is probably you . You leave lights on, forget to turn down the thermostat, and leave appliances plugged in and draining power even when they’re not being used. So, by switching to home automation, you’ll be able to remove yourself from the equation. Not totally mind you; a smart home isn’t that smart. It will however be able to turn off lights for you when you leave the room, reduce heating and cooling when you’re not at home, and basically help you to use as little energy as possible. Popular home automation companies like Nest and Vivint have led the way in home automation technology. Vivint reviews showed a need for more than just a smart thermostat, so this has pushed major home automation companies to move into automating light control, locks, and other energy expenditures at home. On average, automated homes use 15% less energy per month than conventional homes, which means that-once again-what’s good for the earth is good for the wallet.
So, no matter what color the outside may be, you can make sure that the inside of your house is as green as possible. And yes, if you happen to save a ton of money in the process, well that’s just a nice little bonus.