5 ways to make your home eco-friendly and cost-efficient
If you’ve been looking to cut down on your monthly expenses or minimize your ecological footprint, a great place to start is inside your own home. By making your home more energy efficient, you can help trim your bills and make an environmental impact.
Here are five ways to “green up” your home:
Installing solar panels on your home may be costly at first, but they can create big savings. Calculating the time it will take for a solar system to pay for itself depends on a number of factors that vary by state, including the cost of electricity and available tax credits, rebates and incentives, so you’ll want to do your research, but regardless you can rest assured you’ll be cutting down on releasing carbon emissions.
Putting in a skylight (or two or three) is not just good for the environment, it’s good for you, too. Studies have shown that natural light can improve people’s moods as well as increase test scores, productivity or even the speed of recovery from surgery.
You’ll want to be careful to plan the placement of skylights according to the path of the sun in different seasons. For most homeowners in the U.S., skylights on south-facing, sloping roofs may run the risk of overheating rooms, while those on north-facing roofs tend to create softer, less intense illumination. Surrounding vegetation and terrain, among other factors, can also affect your ultimate vision. Once installed where you want them, your skylights can help provide both lighting and ventilation.
As living things that take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, people are perfect partners with plants, which do the opposite. By populating your home with plants, you establish a naturally inviting interior along with a number of health and financial benefits. These hard-working air purifiers help reduce mold, bacteria and toxins in the air.
Plants also release moisture into the air during photosynthesis—increasing your home’s humidity and regulating the interior temperature by warming cooler rooms and cooling warmer ones. This minimizes the need to mess with the thermostat and drive up your energy bill.
Think of your home as a bucket: If there’s even a small hole, the water that’s supposed to stay inside will slowly leak out. Likewise, the hot or cool air in your house that keeps you comfortable will escape if your windows aren’t properly sealed, forcing your A/C and furnace units to work harder in order to maintain the temperature you want.
Inspect your windows closely to determine if the original caulking or weather stripping is dried, cracked or missing. If it is, clear off any damaged material, clean the window frame and reapply. Another way to minimize heat loss through windows is to hang waffle shades. These eco-friendly fabric treatments are made with cells that trap air to provide excellent insulation.
Even without buying any new products or installing new features in your home, you can still cut your annual energy costs and carbon footprint. Pay attention to your water usage. Don’t leave the water running when brushing teeth or scrubbing dishes. Try to take shorter showers. Put on more clothes instead of turning up the heat when you catch a chill. Turn off lights and unplug the TV since even “stand-by” mode sucks up electricity. Following these tips can lower utility bills and reduce your impact on the environment.
Whether adding new features, repairing old ones or simply altering your behavior, your efforts to create an eco-friendly home can help both the environment and your utility bills.