How to Upgrade Your Home for a More Sustainable Future
Green savings and green living are constantly taking up attention in the mind of an eco-conscious homeowner. The impact each home improvement project has on both the Earth and a homeowner’s bank account factors heavily into their mindset.
Fortunately, there are several home improvement activities that manage to overlap both concerns. Whether you’re prepping to sell or merely going about larger maintenance items, here are a few of the best ways sustainable home improvements can help you during your home-owning journey.
Gauging the Value of Green Improvements
Improving a home is a common activity. Normal wear and tear from the occupants, the weather, and Father Time himself can wear out every piece of a home over time. When that happens, you have to go beyond eco-friendly daily habits to keep your home both operating and sustainable. Replacements and repairs are typically required.
Opting for environmentally-friendly repair choices can often help you keep your home in tip-top condition while also enabling you to reduce the overall impact it has on the environment.
The Economic Value of Sustainable Home Improvements
When it comes to the dollar value of sustainable home improvements, it can often be difficult to commit. Eco-friendly building materials, tools, and methodologies often require a larger up-front investment.
However, it’s important to remember many green improvements are focused on efficiency, which automatically adds value to your home. Sustainable bathroom fixtures can lower your water bill and trees can minimize your heating costs in the summer. This predictably reduces the expense of operating a house and, if given enough time, it can more than pay for the additional costs involved.
If you’re thinking of making an improvement and then selling before you can reap the benefits of efficiency, you should still consider the financial upside. Multiple studies have shown green homes (that is, homes focused on being sustainable) capture an average of 8% and even up to 30% of additional value when compared to a traditional alternative. In other words, sustainable home improvements can directly add significant value to the purchase price of your home, as well.
The Environmental Value of Sustainable Home Improvements
Along with the financial side of the equation, a green home is obviously a boon to the environment. This is due to many different factors. For instance, homes, iconically, are inefficient when it comes to things like:
- The environmental impact of construction companies building the home;
- The use of various eco-unfriendly building materials;
- Fuel required to maintain the environment;
- Excessive water usage.
By committing to sustainable home improvements, as well as making daily changes such as utilizing homemade cleaners to keep chemicals out of the water system or going down the drain, you can help to ameliorate many of the harsher effects of the home building and maintenance process.
Home Improvements for a More Sustainable Future
It’s easy to make the case for green home improvements. Actually identifying what areas are worth investing in can be more challenging. Here are a few suggestions for the easiest sustainable upgrades you can make in your home.
Adding insulation is one of the best ways to help lower your carbon footprint. For example, if your attic only has a thin layer of insulation, your heating and cooling can escape through your roof. Blowing insulation into the exterior wall cavities of your home is also a good idea.
If you have an especially drafty home, it’s also wise to seal up any cracks in your windows or doors with caulk and weatherstripping, respectively. The less air you let out, the more efficient your home’s internal environment will be.
Many older appliances are notoriously inefficient. Modern alternatives can cut down on the amount of electricity or fuel required to operate everything from a dishwasher to a water heater, furnace, or fridge. By replacing your appliances with sustainable models, you naturally improve the efficiency and buy appeal of your home.
Choose Reusable Materials for Projects
Reusing is one of the most important aspects of building a sustainable home. This can be something as small as repurposing a broken item to serve another purpose in your home, such as using a broken vase as a planter. You can also repurpose indoor furniture into outdoor decor. Saving old paint and using it for another project later is much better than simply throwing it away.
You can also get more intense with your reusing efforts. For instance, look for excess building materials leftover from other jobs, either around your home, through a contractor, or at a home improvement store. Try to use them when doing a project. Scrap lumber, extra shingles, and miscellaneous nails are all worth sourcing as you repair and improve your home.
Find Easy DIY Upgrades
Every sustainable home upgrade doesn’t have to be complicated or done by contractors. On the contrary, a few quick and easy DIY upgrades include:
- Replacing lightbulbs with LED alternatives;
- Swapping out your water fixtures for low-flow options;
- Installing heavier drapes and curtains to help with insulation;
- Putting in a low-flush toilet.
Simple upgrades like these can help you operate with the peace of mind your home is functioning with minimal impact on the environment. It also enables you to sell it as a “green home” with a clear conscience when the time comes.
Invest in Geothermal Heating
If you’re adding on to your home or otherwise making a larger improvement, you may want to consider incorporating geothermal heating into your plans. This is a great way to use the natural heat of the sun — harvested where it’s been trapped below the surface of the Earth — to heat your home.
Geothermal heating can be a big investment. But the reduced operating costs and incredibly alluring aspect this form of heating is for buyers can often make it well worth the investment.
Sustainably Upgrading Your Home
You don’t have to go all-in on building a green home from scratch. On the contrary, converting an inefficient existing home to a sustainable dwelling is a great way to recycle what exists into something beneficial for both the planet and your pocketbook.
So consider the list above. Isolate what makes sense to do in your home now. Should you replace the lightbulbs? Can you handle a beefier project like new water fixtures? Or are you ready for a major upgrade like new insulation or even adding geothermal heating? Whatever the project, each and every improvement helps us all work toward a brighter, happier, and healthier future together.
Author Bio: Dan Matthews is a freelance writer and content consultant who specializes in valuable insights for a wide variety of audiences. However, sustainability and environmental preservation topics extend past the working hours and into Dan’s daily routines – and he would like to impart those ideals and awareness unto as many readers as are willing to give him the time.