There are plenty of ways homeowners can reduce their eco-impact and increase the energy efficiency in the home, but it’s tough to know what investments have the best payoff both financially and environmentally. Let’s review some options in price ranges to meet every budget.
Programmable thermostat ($) – Installation of one of these babies probably the best first-step a homeowner can take to reducing the cost and footprint of excess energy use. Available in dozens of models with loads of features, a programmable thermostat lets you easily control the temperature of your home for optimized comfort when you’re there and less energy usage when you’re not.
Smart power strips ($) – Replace all the standard power strips you’ve probably got plugged in all over the place now with these upscale versions and save big bucks on your electric bill. They work by completely powering off big energy drains like TVs and gaming systems when they’re not in use. Standard strips still pull trickles of power for your electronics even when they’re turned off.
Solar hot water heater ($$) – Replacing your old water heater with a new solar version could save you up to 80% on the cost of heating your water. The downside is that, since it relies on the son to get your water nice and hot, you might need a small backup water heater to pick up the slack at night or during rainy season.
New windows ($$$) – Old windows are drafty and let in the cold or hot air you’re trying to keep outdoors. In additionally to better seals, many of today’s window options also have tinting to keep the sun’s harmful rays from bleaching your furniture and overheating your house. With today’s longer warranties, a whole-house window replacement is something you’re likely to only do once but it will pay for itself over and over for the lifetime of your home.
Wind turbine ($$$) – If the wind speeds in your area reach at least five MPH, you’re home may be a great candidate for harnessing the wind’s energy to power your home. It won’t allow you to go completely off the grid, but the money you’ll save by not relying solely on electricity will add up quickly. Of course, due to the size of a wind turbine, you’d have to check your local zoning laws and hope you have very understanding neighbors.
Of course, there are plenty of eco-friendly things you can do around the house without spending a dime. Any old large plastic container makes a great composting bin, and many municipalities provide rain barrels free of charge to residents for watering lawns and irrigating gardens. What purchases have you made to make your home more eco-friendly? Tell us in the comments.