As the earth feels the effects of climate change and energy bills continue to rise, taking steps to make your home more sustainable and eco-friendly can save you money and help protect the planet. From installing solar panels to using eco-friendly laundry detergent, you can take several steps to make your home more environmentally friendly.
Explore seven ways to make your house more sustainable to determine which might be the most beneficial for your energy costs, local ecosystem and home.
Invest in Reusable Products
In addition to being expensive, single-use products are one of the major sources of ground and water pollution today. You can reuse all sorts of products you already have in your home, from refilling soap, cleaner and shampoo bottles to upcycling older furniture by reupholstering them and giving them a new life.
You can avoid purchasing single-use products by cleaning with reusable paper towels instead of single-use towels. You can buy products in bulk, put them in smaller containers and purchase products that come in reusable containers made of glass or metal to set yourself up for sustainable usage from the get-go.
Use Energy Efficient Appliances
The EPA’s Energy Star label was invented to help consumers pick the most energy-efficient appliances. This label helps you identify products that save you money on electricity bills without sacrificing performance. The label will often tell you how much money you can expect to save and help you budget for the future while helping protect the environment. Popular energy appliances include refrigerators, windows, washers and dryers. Even with higher upfront costs, choosing the most efficient model possible can save you considerable money over the long term
Use a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat, particularly one connected to an app, can reduce your energy bills and carbon footprint. You can customize these thermostats to ensure you are not heating or cooling an empty house and wasting energy.
A smart thermostat can run your HVAC system at night or during off-peak, low usage times, which lowers the strain on the grid and saves you money. Some thermostats can even factor in weather forecasts to optimize your home’s heating and cooling before potential storms, heat waves or cold snaps. This can save you between eight percent and 31 percent on your annual energy bill.
Here’s a running list of smart thermostat models we’ve heard great things about:
Install Solar Panels
Solar panels are one of the best ways to make your home more sustainable and can reduce your energy bills. See our DIY solar energy guide here but be warned. If you need to connect to the grid you will face challenges. These panels come in various sizes, and you can even consider installing an entire roof made from building-integrated photovoltaic shingles. These PV panels or shingles generate electricity from sunlight that can power your home during the day and, if paired with a battery system, power your home at night as well.
While there is an upfront cost, your government might offer several incentive programs to help people purchase solar panels. In the US, all panels purchased in 2022 are eligible for a 26 percent income tax credit, while those purchased in 2023 will receive a 22 percent income tax credit.
Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
The cleaning products you use in your home can harm your local ecosystem. Common cleaning chemicals such as ammonia, different dyes, chlorine bleach and volatile organic compounds, as well as petroleum-based microplastics, can be very harmful to your local water system and can lower the air quality in your home.
Instead, choose all-natural organic cleaning products that do not cause ecological damage, including vinegar and baking soda-based cleaners, essential oil-based soaps and eco-friendly dishwasher tablets. These gentle cleaners are also safer for your family, as they won’t harm your children or pets. They also offer a way to clean your home without leaving chemical residue on cooking and eating surfaces that could cause cumulative health issues.
Upgrade Your Windows and Insulation
Loss of climate-controlled air through drafty windows and insufficient insulation is a major drain on your energy bills and can prematurely age your HVAC system. All your walls should have a solid wall or cavity insulation, and your roof should be well insulated with spray foam, blown-in, loose fill, batt insulation or pre-cut structural insulated panels. This keeps your house at a reasonable temperature without stressing your HVAC system and increasing your carbon footprint.
If you notice a draft coming from one of your windows, you should replace it as soon as possible. You should install fiberglass, metal or composite window frames with cavities for extra insulation if you live in a cold climate, and choose windows with at least two panes and a low-emissive coating on the glass.
Consider Harvesting Rainwater
A great way to reduce your home’s environmental impact and make it more sustainable is to reduce the amount of water you use from your city’s municipal water supply. Harvesting rainwater and using it as a source of gray water can reduce how much water you draw from your city’s system and lower your water bills.
Rainwater is harvested through your gutters before being filtered and stored for use as gray water. This water can be used to clean the outside of your home or vehicles, to water outdoor landscaping and can even be used as toilet water or water for your washing machines.
How effective this system will be depends on how much rainwater your area receives, but areas with moderate amounts of rain can significantly reduce water usage. Be sure to consult your local authorities, as rainwater harvesting is not allowed everywhere and may be subject to regulations that help replenish depleted aquifers.
Save Money and Help the Planet
Making your home more sustainable can help you live a better, less carbon-intensive life and reduce your monthly bills. From switching to more eco-friendly cleaning products to installing better insulation and windows, any steps you take will be helpful and lower your impact on the environment. Savings from minor steps you take to make your home more sustainable can help you save money and create a greener future for the planet.