51 Realistic Ways Homeowners Can Go Green & Save Serious Money
Going green is not only a respectable thing to do for the environment but also our pocketbooks too. Here are realistic ways homeowners can go green and save extraordinary money.
It’s no big secret that going green is all the rage these days, in fact, being eco-friendly is more popular and well-accepted now than ever before in history. The thing is, going green is not only a respectable thing to do for the environment, but also for our own personal pocketbooks too.Here are 51 realistic ways homeowners can go green and save some serious money immediately…
1. Have a new energy-efficient HVAC system installed. While the initial financial outlay can be up to several thousand dollars, the energy savings will pay for themselves several times over during the lifespan of the system.
2. Recycle the gray water discharged from your clothes washing machine to use for watering landscaping. Plants don’t mind the sudsy water at all!
3. Replace leaky, drafty windows with ultra-high-efficiency windows to save thousands over the next several years.
4. Use a programmable thermostat to control your home’s heating and air conditioning system. With a programmable thermostat, there’s no need to give up comfort-it allows your home’s system to operate at a more efficient temperature when you’re away or tucked under the covers at night.
5. Switch your showerheads to high-efficiency water-saving units. Don’t worry, the latest generations of water-saving showerheads are designed to provide a powerful and luxurious water stream, even while saving several gallons per shower.
6. Having storm windows installed can improve the thermal envelope of your home significantly at a minimal cost.
7. Have your landscape designed with low maintenance, low water plants.
8. New refrigerators use only a fraction of the energy than those just ten years old do. This means that upgrading can pay for itself in just a couple of years.
9. Installing CFLs (compact fluorescent lighting) throughout your home will save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in electricity over the CFLs’ lifespan when compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs throughout the entire home.
10. The LED lighting is even more efficient than CFLs are.
11. Improve insulation. Why let the heat or air conditioning escape the home right through the roof and walls when you can keep it inside the home? Many green eco-friendly insulation choices are now available compared to just a few years ago.
12. Install a heat exchanging drain pipe for your shower. A plumber will install a drain pipe for your shower that actually spirals around the shower’s hot water supply line. This is an effective way to “pre-heat” and reduce hot water used.
13. Wrap hot water pipes with pipe insulation. For just a few cents per linear foot of foam pipe insulation, you’ll be keeping the heat in the pipes (where it belongs).
14. Convert to low flow toilets. An essential step for any bathroom remodel, or for those looking for an effective step towards reducing water consumption, swapping older 3 gallons per flush toilets with modern fixtures that only use a fraction is the green thing to do. Also…
15. Dual flush toilets are even more effective at saving water.
16. Wrap traditional tank-style hot water heaters with specially designed water heater blankets. The savings seriously add up.
17. Consider making the switch to an on-demand tankless water heating unit. This is a great idea for new homes and also for older homes too. Ask your plumbing professional what steps would be required to retrofit an existing tank system.
18. Modify gutter downspouts to empty to a rain barrel with a hose spigot for easy, free, eco-friendly watering.
19. Wash clothes in cold water instead of hot water. Some detergent makers sell special formulations designed specifically to work best with cold water; however, most ordinary washing does just fine with cold water and your traditional detergent.
20. Only operate your appliances with a full load. Water and heat consuming household appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes dryers often use the same amount of water, heat, and detergent no matter if your washing just one item or a full load. Ensuring full loads as often as possible will add up to significant energy and water savings over the course of a year.
21. Line dry clothing on nice breezy days. Nothing is better than the free and fresh breeze dried clothing that is so rarely taken advantage of these days.
22. Invest in power-saving power strips. For home electronics that constantly use small amounts of electricity in “standby mode” while you’re not using them, using smart power strips that switch all power off when the device is turned off can be wise-especially for devices where it doesn’t matter if they lose any stored information.
23. Unplug chargers when they’re not in use. The plugin power adapters for cell phones, digital cameras, and all of the other rechargeable devices we rely on these days typically draws current from the grid even when the electronic gadget isn’t charging at the other end of the cord.
24. Check your home’s faucets for aerators. Aerators installed on the spout of faucets are designed to help energize the strength of the water flow, producing a more useable stream of water while using less of it.
25. Have your landscape designed with low maintenance, low water-using plants. And for many often watered plantings and lawns, sometimes watering less is actually a good thing for the plants-overwatering is a well-known culprit to struggling plants.
26. Recycle more. By all means, one of the greenest things an average household can do is to recycle the refuse that so typically ends up in the landfill. Take a look at your local recycling pick up service’s guidelines to make sure you’re diverting all possible paper, plastic, metal, and glass waste away from the landfill and into renewable resources.
27. Thinking about thermal window treatments-or for that matter, effectively managing the use of any type of interior window treatment to either take advantage of solar heating or to block its effect is the smart thing to do.
28. Go solar. Having a solar power system installed does have an expensive initial price tag, but today’s solar panels and related equipment last much longer and produce higher more electricity per square inch than those used in generations past.
29. Harness the power of the wind. Many homeowners are finding that adding small electricity-producing wind-powered turbines to their properties can be a wonderfully green way to supplement their energy needs.
30. Pump excess electricity generated back into the grid. For those producing their own wind or solar electricity, the excess electricity produced can actually be sold back to the power utility company, potentially generating extra revenue.
31. Use the sun to heat your water. Also…
32. Solar water heating systems can also be used to help provide heat for radiant heating systems.
33. Insist on low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and materials. Keep harmful chemicals toxic compounds like glue and formaldehyde out of your home’s air.
34. Install “green” carpets. You can use the color green if you want, but no matter the choice of colors, excellent quality carpeting in practically every style imaginable is available affordably, and guess what it’s made of recycled plastic. That’s right…today’s carpet manufacturers are using green technology to turn recycled soda bottles into the soft, plush carpet for your home.
35. Use renewable resources whenever possible. Flooring is a common way to go green, but don’t forget the kitchen cabinets and other home construction or remodeling components and materials.
36. Consider composites outdoors. For example, a typical lumber deck is laden with harmful arsenic-treated wood and the need for frequent use of paints and stains just every couple of years or so. By using an engineered composite resin decking material, painting becomes a thing of the past and there’s less harm done to the environment at the same time.
37. Bamboo flooring is made from ultra-sustainable fast-growing bamboo. Plus, it looks great too!
38. Plant a strategically located tree or two. Trees not only produce oxygen-rich clean air and look beautiful-their shade can also effectively be used to block harsh summer sunlight from the home, reducing air conditioning costs and energy consumed. Consult with a landscape expert to find the best possible tree for your exact location to ensure that the height of growth and the radius covered by its plumage will be appropriate for your specific application.
39. Green certified engineered flooring is a must. When selecting the type of wood flooring to be installed, be sure to double-check that it was created with green principles in mind.
40. Make your own organic cleaning supplies. The web is full of great recipes that utilize safe household ingredients like baking soda and even citrus fruits for remarkably effective and environmentally friendly cleaning at a fraction of the cost of harsh store-bought products.
41. Insist on having green countertops installed whether designing a new kitchen or doing a kitchen remodel. There are lots of great choices out there-just ask your installer or designer. One eye-catching favorite is an absolutely stunning product that’s made almost exclusively from recycled glass.
42. Keep your home’s air quality fresh and green by making sure reusable electrostatic filters are cleaned regularly and on schedule. By using permanent filters, you’ll eliminate the need to purchase paper filters, along with the costs and waste associated. Plus, as an added bonus, healthier air equates to healthier families-possibly even eliminating certain health care expenses.
43. Compost your food waste. Your organic garden (whether it’s vegetables, fruits, flowers, or other plantings) absolutely thrive on the plant nutrient-rich, free compost material.
44. Install an awning to block out the hot summer sun rays.
45. Use ceiling fans in all frequently used living areas. Using a ceiling fan will usually provide the cooling effect of turning down the A/C by about 10 degrees at just a fraction of the cost of running the entire air conditioning system at that temperature. Plus, ceiling fans are also quite energy effective in reverse mode during the heating season.
46. Hot water recirculation pumps are an effective way to make sure your hot water heating system keeps the water warmer more efficiently. Just ask your plumber if they might be beneficial to your particular system.
47. Look into your lawn. While lush, green lawns are beautiful to look at, very rarely are they used to their fullest extent. Replacing a portion of a grass lawn with the useable outdoor living space created by a beautiful patio is a great way to reduce high resource-consuming lawns.
48. Switch to organic fertilizers. Lawn and plant fertilizers are among the greatest sources of watershed pollutants there are. When fertilizing, use compost and safe organic fertilizers as often as possible for a healthier landscape and a healthier environment. Mulching is also quite natural, green, and effective.
49. Select a lower temperature setting on your water heater. Turning the dial back just a few degrees can save remarkable amounts of energy while not even making a noticeable difference in the shower or with laundry or dishwashing.
50. Contract with a plumber to fix leaky toilets and dripping faucets. They might not seem like a huge deal initially, but consider the fact that even a small leak will add up to tens of thousands of gallons of wasted water per year and the problem really begins to escalate from there. Yikes!
51. Plan better when building new. The best thing about having a green mindset for the home is that going green doesn’t necessarily have to cost more. By using the green design services of a certified experienced architect or draft-person, small tweaks to a home’s designs and components can really deliver eco-friendly, money-saving results.
Remember, many of these ideas are major upgrades and require reasonable financial investment to implement-but for families planning to stay in their homes for a while, going green is an investment that certainly pays for itself. Plus, being as eco-friendly as possible is just the right thing to do for the environment!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mr. Jeff Smith has been an online writer for three years and has written the number of articles on home improvement. He shares more useful articles for home improvement here.