Are you powering your laptop from the windmill in your back yard? Do you mix your morning smoothie with your pedal-powered bicycle blender? Or are you a homeowner who just wants to knock a few dollars off of your energy bill? Even if you're not a card-carrying member of the Carbon Neutrality Club, eco-friendly home renovations have a lot to offer you.
They save you money The beautiful thing about energy efficient upgrades in your home is that they generally save you money. Whether in the short-term through lighting or insulation upgrades, or in the long-term through solar infrastructure installations, eco-friendly changes will benefit your pocketbook. Solar panels and solar water heaters may cost a bit more upfront, but often times you may be able to obtain rebates to offset the cost. In some regions, energy can eventually be sold back to local utilities as you contribute to the energy grid.
As costs of ozone-depleting fossil fuels continues to rise, alternative energy options sound better and better. And the savings don't stop at your utility bill. As an added bonus, energy-efficient features in your home can raise the value of your house when it's time to sell.
They are healthier for you and the planet. If you're reading this article, odds are good that you are conscientious about your choices and the effects they will have on the planet and future generations. Being eco-friendly means reducing your overall consumption of new materials, and the waste you generate. This means less chemicals required during the manufacturing of new products, less energy used during production of new materials, and less fossil fuels required in the transport of these materials to your local building supplies store.
From a personal health standpoint, using locally-sourced reclaimed building materials for your flooring, walls, and countertops can reduce the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) you breath from newly manufactured wood products. Are you thinking about moving a wall or deconstructing part of your home? Instead of going crazy with the sledge hammer, try to salvage materials to reuse elsewhere.
Here are 3 updates that you can do TODAY on any budget:
1. Install a low-flow showerhead. "A single person taking 25, 7-minute showers over the course of one month would use 2,000 fewer gallons of water annually by using a 1.5gpm low-flow showerhead vs. the traditional low-flow 2.5gpm showerheads being sold today." Switching to a more efficient showerhead reduces the demand on local water sources while putting extra dollars in your pocket. Want to see for yourself? Click here to calculate your water and cost savings.
2. Swap out those old incandescent light bulbs for an LED variety. LED, short for Light Emitting Diode, is a highly efficient light source that can potentially knock a whopping 88% off of your lighting bill. To calculate your energy savings by making the switch, click here to shed some light on your savings. Another bonus of LED lights? You won't be balancing on your tallest chair every week as you try to replace the light bulb in the hallway. Compared to their antiquated filament-based cousins, LEDs last forever.
Changing out your bulbs is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reducing your fossil fuel usage. For longer-term benefits, consider installing solar panels or solar water heaters. We are living in an exciting time for renewable energy. Click here to learn more.
3. Use recycled or low-VOC paint. Take advantage of Australia's paint product stewardship program by purchasing a can of recycled paint. Unused paint that would otherwise have ended up in the landfill can now be reformulated and made into new products. Decorative paint was included as a priority product in the National Product Stewardship Act of 2011. The act incorporated framework for collection and treatment of waste paint. The resulting program allows you to purchase recycled DIY concrete coatings or water-based paints. If a recycled variety doesn't work for you, grab a can of low-VOC paint. Low-VOC paints emit lower levels of harmful chemicals into your home environment.
Being eco-friendly can be easy. Whether you're trying to live completely off the energy grid or just wanting to find ways to shower without breaking the bank, "green" home updates can benefit you. So try out some of these options and make your home energy-efficient today!