6 Green Home Improvement Projects for Your Home

There are many ways you can enhance the energy efficiency of your home to make it more eco-friendly. And we don’t just mean big, expensive green home improvement projects. Some of these changes can be done in seconds and require no skill or specialist equipment.

Other methods, such as installing a geothermal system, do require experts to carry out the work. We decided to put being eco-friendly in the spotlight and show you 6 ways to improve your home’s efficiency to help save you money.

Let’s start small:

Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

We said some of these changes are easy! There is no green home improvement simpler than installing energy-efficient light bulbs. Congress established the first national light bulb efficiency standard in 2007. That required all new bulbs to use 28 percent less power than existing incandescent light bulbs. It effectively outlawed older, energy-hungry bulbs from being used in American homes.

In the last decade, electricity usage has dropped in the average US household, primarily as a result of switching to LED bulbs. LED bulbs use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, meaning you can swap a 60-watt older bulb for a 12-watt LED and still achieve the same brightness.

But what about the cost, we hear you ask? Over 23 years, running a single lamp with a 60-watt incandescent bulb will cost you roughly $200. By comparison, that same lamp could be lit using a single LED bulb at a cost of just $38. That’s a saving of over $150! How's that for a money saving and green home improvement?

Geothermal Energy

Okay, this is a biggie. We get that not everyone will have the resources or available land to have a geothermal system installed. However, if you do, we would heartily recommend taking that leap. Once you have your system installed, you can wave goodbye to ever buying gas, propane, oil, coal, or whatever ever again.

Geothermal systems work by harnessing the heat below the frost line in the soil. Depending on where you live and the harshness of the climate, the frost line could be anywhere between 6 feet and 12 feet under the ground.

The good news is that the temperature below stays at a constant 55 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter what the temperature above ground. To capture all this free energy, a series of pipes are laid, either vertically or horizontally. These pipes are known as coils, and what they do is heat or cool a mixture of water and coolant contained within and send it back to the surface to heat or cool your home.

This type of geothermal setup is called a closed loop system. The other way to harness the energy of the earth is to invest in an open loop system, which requires a water source like a pond or well. This freshwater reserve feeds into an open pipe that in turn channels the water towards the heat pump. Either method is a green home improvement that can save money and keep you comfortable.

Brass Tacks (and Real Dollars)

The costs of geothermal systems are high. You can easily spend upwards of $25,000. But the good news is there are federal and local incentives that allow you to claim back a proportion of the overall costs. In some cases, it could be as much as a third, meaning your initial $25,000 outlay reduces to just over $16,500.

When you compare it against traditional furnaces and boilers, it doesn’t sound too bad a deal, especially given the lifespan of a geothermal system. Standard furnaces will last between 10 and 15 years with regular servicing, whereas a geothermal system will last upwards of 25 years plus, and the coils as much as 50 years.

And the annual savings can be really big. Some homeowners reduce their utility costs by as much as 70% when they switch from traditional HVAC to a geothermal heat pump.

Want a geothermal heat pump for your green home improvement? We can help with that! Check out our selection here.

Solar Panels

If you have a roof with a south-facing side, solar panels can provide you with free energy for most of the year. Those who live in sunnier parts of the country, where winter rarely bites, can reap even greater results. Aside from geothermal, this is the other biggest green home improvement you can make.

The great news is that solar is a long-established technology and is relatively cheap to install. The bad news is that not everyone loves the aesthetics, and you only get energy when the weather conditions allow it.

Solar should be seen as a means to boost your energy provision but not as a primary source of power due to the fluctuations in performance. However, thanks to its efficiency, you will see your energy bills fall significantly. Also, solar is relatively easy to maintain, and you should get a minimum of 25 years of service from your panels.

Insulation

We can’t stress enough the importance of proper insulation. What is the point of making green home improvement changes to your home if you allow all that energy you save to escape? It’s a bit like trying to drink from a cup with a hole in the bottom.

Before you do anything to improve your home, insulate. Carry out a simple survey by noting all the areas of your property where energy could escape. Focus on the windows and doors, as well as the roof.

When you have completed the survey, look for simple ways to make changes. You can buy double-paned glass, or even triple-glazed windows, with a vacuum seal between each pain to reduce heat loss. Alternatively, you could adopt a DIY approach and fit additional secondary glazing to reduce energy loss.

Draft excluders and foam strips on the doors and windows create a seal that stops energy escaping. And in the attic, fiberglass matting laid between the wooden joists keeps the heat from rising through the roof.

None of these jobs are expensive and they are all reasonably easy to accomplish, but once completed, you will save a heap of money.

Get a Smart Thermostat

Smart thermostats are one of the simplest and cheapest ways for you to optimize your HVAC system's performance. Why is that a green home improvement? Chances are that your HVAC unit is the single biggest consumer of energy on any given day of the year. The more you optimize it to save energy, the more you're going to save.

And that energy savings turns into dollar savings for you. Does your smart thermostat cut your energy consumption by 15% per year? That will result in a 15% reduction to your utility bill and an increase in your bank account!

Plus, smart thermostats are easy to install and use. Simply follow the easy to read instructions, and the smart thermostat does the rest. It will learn your habits and preferences, and adjust accordingly. Not only do you not have to fiddle with the thermostat anymore, but you're saving energy and cash! What's not to love?

The price tag. Smart thermostats do not come free. They are pricey compared to generic thermostats. However, the savings can pay for themselves down the road. Of course, if you want a smart thermostat for the convenience more than the green home improvement, the savings are just a nice bonus.

Compost

According to the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), America wastes 30 to 40 percent of the food it produces. As of 2010, that equated to a staggering $133 billion! The current goal is to reduce this waste by 50 percent by 2030 which would save households a lot of money.

We get that this is a national problem, but as individuals, there is far more we can do to improve the situation. There will always be food waste, but what we do with it makes a difference.

If you’ve never tried composting before, you are going to love it. It is food for your garden. It encourages worms to break down the waste and turn it into fertilizer. All from your old egg cartons and vegetable peelings. The simple rule to follow is if it’s biodegradable like food and cardboard, it can be composted.

It is a simple way to reduce what you send to landfill and the ultimate form of recycling. All you need to do is make a rudimentary box by screwing some pallets or offcuts of sheet wood together and place it in a shady spot in the garden. Worms love moisture, so you can kickstart the composting process by splashing some water over the waste initially and make sure you add moisture-rich food waste.

Simply cover it over with an old rug or bit of carpet and leave it to work its magic. This is one of the cheapest and easiest green home improvements you can do. But what if you're not a gardener? You probably have a neighbor who is and who would be happy to take that rich fertilizer right off your hands.

Final Thoughts on Green Home Improvement

To be energy-efficient is to save money.  Even if you are not the world’s greatest eco-warrior, try and think of it in fiscal terms. Who wants to spend more than they need when a green home improvement can help them save? So, whether you are making simple changes or investing in life-changing projects like geothermal energy, keeping your home warm or cool for less dollars is incredibly satisfying. Helping the planet is just a little bonus.

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