How To Make Your Home More Environmentally Friendly
Living life in an eco-friendly way has become such a prominent concept in today’s world that it’s no longer considered a unique way of life. Even just a decade ago, the idea of ‘going green’ meant you would have to spend thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars, and there wouldn’t be much of a return on that investment.
Solar power in 2009 cost $359 per MWh, and by 2019 that price dropped to roughly $40 – an 89% decrease. This is just an example of the increased accessibility of going green today.
There are plenty of ways that you can make your home more environmentally friendly without breaking the bank. Here are a few suggestions to help you make your home more eco-friendly, with some options being less extensive than others.
Update Your Lights and Electronics
The easiest adoption for a more eco-friendly home is to swap out older electronics with newer ones. Changing the electronics in your home to energy-efficient versions can make a huge difference in your electric bill and carbon footprint.
You can start with your lights by replacing any incandescent and compact fluorescent lights with LED lights. LED lights are more efficient, and therefore more environmentally friendly in nearly every way. They cost less to run, last longer and generate significantly less heat than both incandescent and CFL lights.
Since LED lights are more advanced, some of them even have Bluetooth compatible functions, such as being able to turn them on and off remotely, or the ability to change their color at will. These are, essentially, bonus functions that are all available while still helping to reduce your carbon footprint.
The typical lifespan of an LED bulb is larger as well, lasting six times longer than a CFL bulb and 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb, ultimately reducing the amount of waste produced from burnt-out bulbs.
Appliances and Electronics
A more expensive and more impactful change to make is to swap out older appliances for newer models. Nearly all appliances used today run on electricity, and many also use water in their operation.
Eco-consciousness hasn’t always been as high of a priority as it is today, so older appliances are rather wasteful in terms of energy and water consumption. Newer appliances are much more efficient with their energy and water usage, which saves you money over their lifespan. An added bonus is that these appliances often perform better than their older counterparts, thanks to improvements to enable a lower consumption.
Rethink Your Home’s Construction
Replacing parts of your home with eco-friendly and sustainable options helps by reducing the carbon footprint from the manufacturing and disposal of traditional materials. Some examples of sustainable materials are bamboo, reclaimed wood and recycled steel.
You can swap your home’s structural components with recycled and sustainable materials as sections wear out and need replacing. It’s a great way to shift into a more environmentally friendly existence over a longer period of time, so there’s no need to undergo a huge project all at once.
If the idea of using reclaimed and recycled materials makes you think that they’d be unsightly, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that some of these materials, such as rammed earth or reclaimed wood, can give your home a chic-modern look. Components made from recycled plastics are frequently molded to resemble all of the classic styles of residential architecture.
Benefits Of Sustainable Materials
Many of these eco-friendly materials also have benefits of either costing less, having significantly higher durability, or are simply better at handling the task for which they’re designed when compared to traditional materials. These alternative options have to compete with everyone’s familiarity and wider accessibility to traditional materials in order to make themselves more appealing, especially to those not just interested in making their home more sustainable. Of course, not all the options at your disposal require you to renovate entire sections of your home.
Rethink Your Yard
There are changes you can make to the outside of your home in the interest of green living such as transforming your yard into a drought tolerant landscape. Water is one of the most wasted resources in the developed world due to easy access and lower costs compared to electricity, so eliminating the need to water a lawn will have a big impact. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, watering the average sized lawn in the U.S. for 20 minutes a day, every day of the week, is the equivalent to over 800 showers.
Consider Your Sources Of Energy
When looking at renewable sources of energy, solar panels and wind turbines are the most commonly known. Both are fantastic in the conversion to a sustainable home and are becoming increasingly affordable, as touched on earlier. But these are not the only ways to reduce power consumption. Here are some other options:
Store Energy For Later Use
One option that is installing a home battery. Though frequently coupled with renewable energy sources, they can still have a great impact on regular energy consumption on their own.
Without a renewable source, you can charge the batteries in the off-peak hours of the power grid, when your cost per KWh will be at its lowest. You can then use the battery during the day when your cost per KWh is at its highest and during power outages. Storing the electricity generated at night is better for your wallet and the environment because a substantial amount of energy goes to waste as power plants run through the night.
Lesser known than wind and solar power is the residential hydroelectric generator, or micro-hydro generator. This is a more exclusive option, but it’s also useful where applicable since rivers and streams flow 24/7. Micro-hydro generators come in many sizes, and larger ones can easily generate enough electricity for a household. Micro-hydro also has a benefit over wind and solar, with a lower cost per KWh than both, ultimately shortening the time needed for the unit to pay for itself.
Know Your Options To Afford The Changes
While going green is good for the environment and can save money—or in some cases even earn money with buyback programs—the initial cost to go green can be disheartening. Thankfully, there are many different options to help make the cost of these alterations more accessible. Many companies offer financing to help pay for renewable energy installations or for the reconstruction of homes with new sustainable materials.
Look At Loan Options
Of course, if you’re looking to make more than a few changes, the cost can quickly escalate and using multiple financing options can become confusing. In this situation, a loan is recommended to cover the costs. Consolidating all repayments into a single loan will eliminate the need to keep track of the different billing dates and interest rates.
Personal loans are a great option, and their interest rates can be comparable to what some companies offer for long-term financing. For lower interest rates, it’s worth considering a home equity loan or a cash-out refinance to make the loan payback process as simple as possible. Just keep in mind that you’ll be trading the higher interest rates of personal loans for lower rates with closing costs or refinance fees when using home loan options.
There are numerous benefits to making your home more environmentally friendly, and the list is constantly growing. Switching to more sustainable materials and practices is not only better for the environment, but it’s also better for your wallet and peace of mind. While these are all helpful ways to switch to an environmentally friendly home, it’s by no means an exhaustive list. There are plenty more options, and the best method to make your home more environmentally friendly will vary by individuals and their circumstances.