10 inexpensive ways to make your home greener
Although industry is the main culprit, homes can contribute to the climate change crisis. In reality, 15.4% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come from the residential sector, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2020” report released in 2022.
While some green upgrades are expensive, there are inexpensive things you can do — relatively quick and easy — to make your home more energy efficient and less wasteful. In fact, 68% of respondents in a recent Angi study spent less than $5,000 to green their homes.
If you’re looking to save energy, money, and maybe the planet, consider these 10 simple, inexpensive, and eco-friendly home upgrades.
1. Power strips
Standby power is the juice consumed by appliances and electronics when they are plugged in but not actually in use. Though it’s small, it adds up: Standby power accounts for $11.2 billion in annual energy costs in the United States. By connecting devices to a power strip, which can cost less than $20, you’ll have a single on/off function that can control many at once, ensuring your electronics only draw power when you’re using them. (Don’t use them to turn off computers or anything with a clock.)
2. Water filter
Buying water every week isn’t ideal, especially with US landfills still overflowing with millions of discarded plastic bottles. A water filter is an eco-friendly upgrade that provides households with clean water to drink and use, reducing debris. Easy-to-install faucet accessories cost less than $50.
3. Steel door
A steel door can help you save on heating and cooling costs. In fact, made of a steel skin with a polyurethane foam insulating core, it fits more tightly into the door frame and prevents air from entering or leaving the house. And although they look like something for a bank vault or a jail cell, steel doors actually come in a range of colors and styles.
4. Window treatments
Decorating windows with shades, shades or curtains can be seen as more than a design statement. On 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through bare windows in the winter, requiring you to turn up the thermostat; in hot weather, about 76% of the sunlight that falls on standard glass enters to become heat, requiring you to increase the AC current. Installing window treatments can conserve energy by blocking the sun’s heat in the summer and trapping the generated heat inside your home in the winter. There are even solar shades and specialty shades, starting at around $150 per window, that only allow 5 percent sunlight through.
Star Energy reports that glass windows without any type of shading allow just under 8% of solar energy transmitted into the home, which can drive up energy costs during the summer.
5. Low-flow showerhead
The EPA reports that In the United States, 1.2 trillion gallons of water are used for showering each year, with the average family using about 40 gallons per day. A low-flow showerhead limits the volume of water dispensed from the standard 2.5 gallons per minute (or even four of the pre-1992 showerheads) to two or even 1.5 gallons per minute. So installing one reduces your water usage and the amount of energy needed for a hot shower. Low-flow showerheads cost about the same as conventional showerheads and come in a variety of styles.
6. Faucet aerators
Similar to low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators are designed to control water usage. A small, round gadget that screws onto the tip of your faucet, an aerator creates a more consistent, splash-free flow of water, and also reduces water flow to gallons per minute. You can select different sizes for different faucets in your home; however, the maximum flow should not exceed 1.5 gallons per minute if you really want to save money. Also, they are more for indoor sinks – don’t use them on outdoor faucets that produce large amounts of water.
7. Programmable thermostat
According to U.S. Department of Energy, turning the thermostat up or down when you’re not home or sleeping can save 10% on energy costs. A programmable or smart thermostat gives you more control over the temperature in your home, thanks to its scheduling features and your ability to adjust it with an app or even via your voice. these Energy Star certified appliances can be purchased for less than $200 — a cost that is quickly recouped with potential energy savings of $180 per year.
8. Smart bulbs
Longer lasting LED bulbs have been a popular option for homeowners and renters who have wanted to reduce energy costs for a few years now. The latest innovation in LEDs is the smart bulb, which allows lighting to be personalised, programmed and controlled remotely. Similar to the programmable thermostat, these bulbs come ready to connect to an app on your phone or tablet via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so you can program and adjust them wherever you are (no more “Damn, I left bathroom lights on!”). Depending on the retailer, you can buy smart bulbs for just over $10 each.
9. Exterior lights
While you’re looking at the lights, don’t forget your outdoor fixtures – they too can increase energy costs. An Energy-Star certified fixture can be just as decorative as a standard fixture, but it uses 90% less energy than traditional models using incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 15 times longer. According to Star Energyreplacing outdoor light fixtures and bulbs with Energy-Star certified products can save homeowners $75 a year.
10. Climate-Suitable Landscaping
Landscaping is a literal way to go green and spruce up the exterior of your home to boot. But to be responsible, you want to choose local, climate-appropriate plants, flowers and trees. Climate-adapted landscaping, officially known as xeriscaping, reduces water usage because the flora you plant is designed to thrive in your specific climate and does not require large amounts of water.
Eco-responsible behaviors and habits
Renovating a house in an ecological way is only the beginning. A few behavioral changes can also have a positive impact on your home energy costs and the environment.
Put the washer on cold
Washing clothes in cold water saves energy as the water will not need to be heated, which can be 90% of the energy used. In addition, it will help the environment by reducing CO2 emissions.
Operate dishwashers/washing machines outside of peak hours
During peak periods, when energy consumption is high, energy-intensive activities will cost more. But if you use appliances during off-peak hours (like running the dishwasher or dryer at night), you can save money and reduce energy consumption.
Switch to greener cleaners and detergents
Harmful ingredients in cleaning products and detergents can negatively impact your health and the environment. Switching to eco-friendly products that use all-natural or safer ingredients will protect both the planet and your body.
Spend less time in the shower
As mentioned, the average family uses about 40 gallons of water per day for showering. Not that we want to tread on your style…but limiting showers to no more than seven minutes will reduce daily water consumption.