Homeowners across the country are more concerned about their impact on the environment than ever before. Many have turned to eco-friendly and sustainably sourced materials to decorate their home while others have turned their yards into wildlife-friendly areas to save the all-important honey bee. No matter what part you are considering playing in making your home a more eco-friendly atmosphere, you are sure to find a home upgrade that can meet your needs. Some projects are larger than others and require time and money to begin; however other projects are easy to complete and involve very little upfront cost. Here are five ways that you can make your home more eco-friendly.
Install a Tankless Water Heater
While a tankless water heater will cost a bit more upfront it will save you money in the long run. Tankless water heaters only heat water when water is flowing. When you turn on a faucet or the shower cold water flows through a heat exchanger where either a natural gas burner or an electric element heats the water. For homes that use less than 40 galls of hot water daily, a tankless water heater will be 24% to 34% more energy-efficient than a conventional storage-tank water heater. Homes that use closer to 90 gallons of water per day will see an energy efficiency increase of 8%-14%. The percentage is small but still beneficial for those that want a more eco-friendly home.
If you have a large family or constantly use multiple water features at once such as running the dishwasher while showering, you may overextend your tankless water heater. If this is the case you can install two tankless water heaters or install separate tankless water heaters for appliances.
Install Energy Efficient Windows
If you are going to make one feature of your home energy efficient it should be your windows. Over 60% of agents across the nation say that new energy-efficient windows have the biggest impact on buyers. New windows not only spruce up the look of your home they improve energy efficiency. According to the Department of Energy, heat gain and loss through older windows is responsible for 25%-30% of energy usage for heating and cooling. With at least a quarter of energy use being lost, energy-efficient windows will make your home more eco-friendly by reducing your overall energy consumption. Windows that are properly sealed and energy certified can reduce your energy bills by as much as 15%.
Install Solar Panels
Solar panels were labeled as a too expensive home investment when they first came onto the market. However, while they may be more expensive than some investments, their cost has fallen about 70% since 2010. On average, solar panels cost between $15,000 and $25,000. However, their upfront cost is quickly counteracted by the utility savings and the increased home value. More and more homeowners are finding an interest in solar panels in order to counteract the rising cost of domestic electricity. Solar panels are a sought-after home upgrade in the Pacific coast region. In fact, they are the number one most sought-after eco-friendly upgrade next to energy certified windows. Homeowners who are considering purchasing solar panels may be in luck as there are quite a few state and federal programs as well as tax credits that can assist in the initial cost.
Switch to LED Lighting
We turn off and on our lights all day and night without really considering what type of bulb we or using. It’s easy to make your home more eco-friendly when you switch out your old bulbs for LEDs. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the most popular eco-friendly solution to incandescent bulbs because they are easy to find at any store. They are up to 80% more efficient than incandescent lights and produce zero toxic elements. LEDs also have a longer life span, which means they need to be changed less which in turn reduces waste.
You can make your lights even more eco-friendly by conserving their usage for the times when you are in the room. Motion sensor lighting, smart switches, and automated lighting systems help reduce energy within the home. If you want to truly make your home more eco-friendly you should choose natural light whenever possible. Keep the blinds open and curtains pulled back during the day, use mirrors to reflect light across rooms, and use glossy paint finishes to reflect even more light.
Upgrade to Energy Star Appliances
Turning your home into an eco-friendly atmosphere can be as easy as switching out old appliances for updated Energy Start ones. Newer appliances can use up to 40% less energy than models that are ten years old. Upgrading your appliances should start in your kitchen where you can switch out your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and microwave with new energy-efficient models. When you choose your new kitchen appliances, always go with the stainless steel option. According to 75% of agents, stainless steel appliances are the most in-demand appliance finish among buyers. Choosing stainless steel appliances may cost a bit more, but when you go to sell your house, they will increase your chances of attracting an offer by nearly 50%. Most newer energy-efficient appliances also use smart technology, which is a big selling point for younger homebuyers who love technology.
While you are upgrading your appliances take a look at your clothes washer and dryer. If your washer and dryer are more than 10 years old they will need to be upgraded. Newer, more eco-friendly washers and dryers conserve water and energy with ultra-efficient cycles. Traditional top load washers can use 20 gallons or more per load during the wash and rinse cycles and older models do not do a great job of removing excess water during the spin cycle which means your dryer is doing more work. Energy Star certified front load washers use 45% less energy and 50% less water than a top load agitator washer. Energy savings from a new energy-efficient washer and dryer could save around $200 a year in energy costs.
There are of course many other ways to make your home more eco-friendly. From where you purchase your furnishings to the chemicals you use on your lawn. Remember that every little bit counts when it comes to making your home more eco-friendly.