It’s always best to strive for eco-friendly home improvements, but some can be daunting and even cost-prohibitive. Many green home improvements—solar panels, in particular—cost tens of thousands of dollars and can take almost a decade to pay back in savings. Fortunately, there are also many ways to make eco-friendly improvements to your home without breaking the bank. Here are some suggestions:
1. Seal Leaks
Sealing leaks is a quick and easy way to improve your home’s energy efficiency without spending a fortune. Inspect your ducts for proper insulation and check your basement, windows, attic, and doors for leaks. Use sealant, a caulking gun, weather-stripping and other materials to seal holes. Keeping the warm air in and the cold air out saves your heating or cooling system from combating a temperature fluctuation—ultimately lowering your utility bill.
2. Update Your Thermostat
If you have an outdated thermostat, consider spending a few hundred dollars to replace it with a programmable model. Not only will this help you better control your indoor temperature; it will also save you an average of ten percent on your energy bills. A programmable thermostat lets you set a desired temperature and uses an automatic temperature sensor to regulate it. Newer programmable thermostats even let you control the temperature from your phone, which comes in handy when you’re away from the house and seeing a drastic temperature change.
3. Replace Single-Pane Windows
Replacing all of your single-pane windows with thicker, double-or triple-pane windows will provide better insulation and keep unwanted heat and cold from penetrating your home. Thin, single-pane windows provide less protection from the elements, which forces your HVAC to work overtime and increases your utility bills. It’s recommended that you frame new windows in wood rather than aluminum; it adds another layer of protection and insulation against the elements.
4. Change Your Furnace Filter
Your furnace gets a lot of use in the winter, causing the filter that helps regulate airflow through the ducts to get dusty and dirty. If the filter isn’t changed or cleaned regularly, hot air is restricted from moving out of the furnace and through the ducts into your home. This forces your furnace to expend more energy, thereby increasing your utility bill. Be sure to call a heating contractor if you aren’t sure about how to change or clean the filter on your own. It’s recommended that you change the filter at least once a month, especially if you’re using the furnace on a regular basis.
5. Get a Low-Flow Shower Head
Most older showerheads push out a lot of water—about 5-7 gallons per minute—which wastes gallons of water every day. Replacing old showerheads with low-flow alternatives does a lot to help the environment. They still push out the same amount of water pressure, but they don’t use as much water to do it. In fact, you can buy low-flow shower heads that push out 2.5 gallons or less per minute.
6. Invest in Efficient Lighting
Save electricity (and money) by replacing old fluorescent and incandescent bulbs with their LED alternatives. They’re more expensive, but they pay back quickly in reduced utility bills. Other energy-efficient lighting solutions include timers and dimmers. Timers allow you to turn your lights on or off at a specified time in you’re away from home; dimmers allow you to control how bright your lights are to set a mood or showcase a certain part of a room.
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