Your home is a reflection of who you are, and as such, it offers plenty of opportunities to make a statement not only about your style, but also your values and beliefs like caring about the environment. From cool white roofs, to solar panels, geothermal heating systems, wood siding, insulated windows and doors, energy efficient light bulbs, there is a wide range of home improvement projects that you can do to make your home more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. However, you do not have to do it all at once, nor do green home improvements have to cost you a fortune. In fact, as a homeowner, you can play an active role in lowering the carbon footprint on our earth by adapting some very simple and inexpensive green home improvement ideas. You will be pleasantly surprised that these changes will not only be beneficial to the environment, but will also actually increase your own comfort level, and help lower your energy bills.
Here are 7 easy environmentally friendly home improvement tips that
you can do today:
1. Install a programmable thermostat
It turns out that the number one source of energy consumption in your home is heating, especially if you live in a cold climate. While there are major changes you can make such as getting a whole new energy efficient pump, improving your insulation, installing new energy efficient windows, etc, one thing you can start with, is installing a programmable thermostat. When you are out of your home during the day this thermostat will shut off the heater completely or lower it to the lowest setting you have preset, in case you have pets in your house that need to stay warm. This nifty device will save you about 15% on your monthly heating bill, and will help the environment because your heater will not be wasting energy by being constantly turned on high.
2. Insulate your windows
It is no secret that installing new windows can be very expensive. However, you can still insulate your existing windows in a number of different ways or even use a combination of these methods. One simple change you can make right away is purchase black out curtains. These are fairly inexpensive, and you will be able to get high quality ones for around $100. Black out curtains will reduce your heat loss by about 25% and will also reduce the noise level by almost half. The beauty of black out curtains is that they will trap heat during the winter, and will keep the sunlight and heat out during the summer. This will also help reduce your air conditioning bills. High end blackout curtains will block out almost 99% of sunlight coming in. Moreover, you can also use energy film to reduce your heating and cooling costs while still letting light in. Unlike regular window plastic, energy film has increased transparency. If you really want to save energy and lower your bills, you can use energy film in combination with black out curtains and make your windows more green without spending a fortune.
3. Motion detector for outdoor lighting
Did you know that if you leave the outdoor light on all night you actually waste a lot of energy and disturb wildlife? Instead, you can conserve energy and save money by installing a light motion detector. It will regulate the outdoor light, activating it when necessary so that the area will be well lit, but without the negative impact on the environment and your wallet.
4. Conserve water
Water is one of the most precious resources that we have on our planet, and each one of us can do our part in conserving water. It just takes a few lifestyle changes, such as taking quicker showers, turning the faucet off when you are brushing your teeth, not letting the water run for too long when you are doing the dishes, etc. If you have kids, you can also educate them about the importance of water conservation and help them adapt these simple water conservation practices into their daily routines as well. If you want to get even more serious about reducing your water spending, you can inspect all the faucets in your house, and fix or replace them if any of them are leaking. Also, you can install low flow shower heads. These are a smart investment, since they help cut down on water usage and also reduce energy costs.
5. Clean air conditioner filters
Air conditioners are a lifesaver on those unbearable hot summer days. However, they can waste a lot of energy and cost you a lot of extra money if you leave the filters unattended for too long. A dirty filter will hamper the flow of air and you will need to run the system more and on a higher setting to achieve the cool temperature you want. By regularly cleaning and replacing the filters when they get too old, you will keep your air conditioners operating at an optimal level. If you are not at home, you can also adjust the thermostats on your air conditioners to an appropriate temperature level so that your house remains comfortable, but without wasting energy to keep it super cool when no one is at home.
6. Power strips for computers
Technology rules our lives and we cannot live without our computers, i-pads, phones, scanners, X-boxes, faxes, etc. What we often neglect to realize is that these devices use a lot of energy when we keep them constantly plugged in, because the flow of electric power continues even after we have turned them off. Instead, get power strips for your devices, they are inexpensive and will prevent energy from getting wasted.
7. Energy efficient lighting
One of the quickest and easiest green home improvements is to replace all the light bulbs in your house with energy efficient lights. You can purchase either LED or fluorescent light bulbs from your local hardware store. Both types of light bulbs come in a variety of shapes, styles and will fit all your fixtures from lamps, to chandeliers, to recessed lights, etc. Energy efficient light bulbs use about 75 % less energy than conventional lights and will also last up to 10 times longer. While you will have to spend a little extra money to purchase either the fluorescent or LED lights, which are both more expensive than the incandescent bulbs, you will get a surprisingly good return
on your investment with lowered electricity bills and a much longer service life.