5 Ways to Make Your Home More Sustainable

Small Projects and Repairs
Solar Energy
By Contractors.com Team May 04, 2021

As seas rise, droughts become more intense, storms become stronger, and heatwaves become hotter, climate change is on our minds. With each passing year, we are confronted with more and more reasons to be more eco-conscious as citizens and as homeowners. So, it pays (pun intended) to take a look at a few simple ways to make our home more sustainable in the long term. And while there is no better time to think about sustainability than on Earth Day, we must remember that every day is earth day. We need to practice sustainable living on more days than one to be impactful.  

So if you’ve ever wondered how to make your house more environmentally friendly, wonder no more. Here is a list of ways, both big and small, that will make your house greener. We can live in more environmentally friendly ways, but to do so we must make changes to our everyday lives and our home. In the end, those changes are worth it because they give us lower power bills, cleaner air, cleaner drinking water, and less energy waste. 

Insulate Your Walls, Floors, and Ceiling

How Better Insulation Can Reduce Your Energy Bills

How Better Insulation Can Reduce Your Energy Bills

The better your home’s insulation, the better its thermal efficiency. High thermal efficiency means that warm air doesn’t escape and cool air stays in. The end result is low energy bills for you and less energy wasted on heating and cooling. It’s a win for you and the planet. If you’re planning an energy retrofit for your home’s insulation, consider a greener alternative to the classic fiberglass insulation found in most homes. Fiberglass isn’t a very effective insulator, and it’s pretty temperamental. It needs to be sealed from moisture or it will get destroyed. It becomes even less effective as it becomes older, and can cause health problems for residents as it decays.

Instead of fiberglass, you can use renewable materials such as cotton ($1.41 per sq. ft), or super insulating materials like polystyrene ($7 per sq. ft.). Alternative materials might be more expensive upfront, but they will act as much better insulators and save you money in the long term. Upgrading your insulation is also a great way to unlock some of your home’s potential value.          

Reglaze Your Windows

The Window To A More Sustainable Home

The Window To A More Sustainable Home

Better yet, double glaze, or even triple glaze your windows. Glazing is a way of sealing your windows and increasing their thermal efficiency. Double glazing and triple glazing are pretty common in a lot of European countries, and it’s no wonder because these types of windows are much better at insulating your home than conventional windows. Much like good insulation, triple glazing will do wonders for your home’s thermal efficiency. This is a pricey home improvement project because most window frames need to be replaced for double glazed windows to fit. On average, costs will range from $72 to $139 per square foot. As with insulation, however, this is an investment that will pay off in the long run with lower energy bills and less wasted energy.  

Use Renewable Energy Sources

Ways To Make Your Home More Sustainable

Ways To Make Your Home More Sustainable

Renewable energy is one of the most potent energy-saving ideas. There are a whole bunch of ways to bring renewable energy into your home. You can install photovoltaic solar panels, wind turbines, a micro-hydropower system, or a hybrid system that makes use of wind and solar energy. These systems will make your home more sustainable, and can also lower your energy bills by 50% or more.  And if that’s not enough of an incentive, every $1 you save in energy bills can amount to a $20 increase to your home’s value.

Costs for these various systems vary based on the size of your home and the added costs for your area. On average, solar panel installation costs for an average-size home are $18,500. Wind turbines tend to be quite a bit more expensive at $8,000 per kilowatt (the average home needs 867 kilowatts per month). Don’t let this discourage you though, since you could be eligible for state renewable energy incentives which can help take the edge off the cost.

Go Solar for Style and Sustainability

Go Solar for Style and Sustainability

Before you decide which one of these is right for you, there are a few things to keep in mind. For one, adding these renewable energy sources to your home will almost certainly require a permit, and an inspector will have to OK this addition to your home. You also need to think about your daily energy needs, the climate of the place you live in, and the regulations of your local area. Depending on where you live, it might be illegal to put in some of these systems, or just not practical if say your region doesn’t get much wind or sun. An electrician can help you calculate your daily electricity needs, and a contractor can assist you to navigate local regulations. You should also check the relevant government websites for helpful pointers. 

It’s also important to add, that when it comes to converting to renewable energy, you don’t have to go it alone. If you are unable to independently install renewable energy in your home, there are other ways to get connected to a renewable energy source. For instance, there are now a growing number of community solar programs. You can also find many solar leasing companies. The federal government also offers a tax credit for renewable energy installations which can help reduce the cost burden. Hybrid systems can also help reduce the cost of switching to renewable energy by keeping you connected to the grid while also giving you different options for renewable energy production. For instance, you can use solar energy in the summer, and wind turbines in the winter.

Choose Non-Toxic Building Materials

You now know to avoid fiberglass insulation, but there are many other building materials that are better to avoid for your next home remodeling project. Vinyl siding, for instance, is a black sheep best kept at arm’s length. Vinyl cladding is a type of PVC, and as such it produces sulfur dioxide as a byproduct. Sulfur dioxide is a major pollutant. It can cause respiratory problems and is one of the main causes of acid rain. As if that wasn’t bad enough, vinyl is bad stuff during a fire. If it happens to ignite, vinyl will release a lot of deadly chemical vapors. 

Toxic Building and Paint Materials to Avoid

Toxic Building and Paint Materials to Avoid

Many homes in the United States still have lead and asbestos products in them. As such, it is crucial that these products are removed. Lead-based paint can still be found in many homes, as can asbestos in roofing, siding, hot water pipes, and other areas of the home. The safest route when dealing with these toxic materials is to hire a licensed professional such as a lead abatement contractor. Your local government may have abatement programs for lead and asbestos, so be sure to contact someone at your local government building authority. Removing these materials can be costly, with the average cost of abatement exceeding $10,000, but when it’s a question of your health, this is a project worth seriously considering.

Buy Energy Efficient Appliances 

What Makes Up An Energy Efficient Kitchen

What Makes Up An Energy Efficient Kitchen

You’d be surprised how big a difference you can make by simply upgrading your existing appliances to smarter, more energy-efficient ones. Some of us are still using the same dryers, washers, refrigerators, and dishwashers we bought twenty years ago. By upgrading these old machines to certified Energy Star appliances, you could gain an average of 35% in energy savings. Just imagine having a kitchen that’s smarter, sustainable, and saves you money. Federal incentives and rebates make this an even more compelling solution for a more environmentally friendly home.

Even something as simple as upgrading all your lightbulbs to LEDs can have a huge effect. LEDs use as much as 80% less energy than their incandescent counterparts and can last 25 times longer. LEDs have also become much more affordable in recent years. In other words, there’s no reason not to upgrade to LED lighting. It's a sustainable solution that’s good for the environment and for your wallet.

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team

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