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10 Ways to Make Your House More Sustainable

As a society, we are recognizing the need to become more environmentally conscious. It’s been shown that consumers are more often shopping with their values in mind, choosing brands that are good for the planet — not just good for their wallets. 

Nearly all major corporations now have environmental goals, outlining the ways they intend to better their practices and foster a greener tomorrow. Unsurprisingly, this trend has also spilled over into the housing sector, with many homeowners looking for ways to make their property more sustainable. 

Making your home environmentally friendly is not just trendy, it’s also a great way to save on utility bills in the long term, and ultimately boost the resale value of your house. While some renovations can be pricey, there are certain things you can do to put money away for these eco-updates. For instance, when buying a house, consider negotiating a home buyer rebate to potentially save thousands at closing. And when selling your house, try working with a low commission real estate agent (some of whom charge as little as 1% commission). 

Once you can afford some upgrades, consider things such as adding solar panels, dual-paned windows, insulation, Energy Star appliances, energy-efficient light bulbs, under-the-floor heaters, chemical-free cleaning supplies, adding compost to your garden, using drought-tolerant plants for landscaping, installing low-flow toilets, using water-based eco paints for the walls, and designing your house to get more natural light. 

1. Add Solar Panels

Solar panels enable homeowners to power their properties with renewable, clean energy. As a replacement for traditional energy, which depends on fossil fuels, solar panels help combat greenhouse gas emissions.

Not only that, but solar panels have become significantly more cost effective over the past decade. The federal government, as well as many states and municipalities, offer tax credits and incentives to install solar panels.

2. Update Your Windows and Insulation

The right windows and insulation can save you a lot of money in the long run. Windows with low-emissive (low-e) coating, for instance, reduce energy loss by anywhere from 30% to 50%. For even further cost savings, install sun-blocking window treatments to keep your home cooler during the day.

Moreover, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that homeowners can save more than 10% on total energy costs by adding insulation in attics, crawl spaces, and basement rim joists.

3. Install Energy-Efficient Appliances and Light Bulbs

Energy Star appliances, which are certified by the U.S. Department of Energy, use significantly less energy (10% to 50%) than their non-energy efficient competitors. This becomes especially significant when considering that appliances account for 20% of a home’s monthly energy bill on average. Appliances that aren't ing properly may also use more energy than they're supposed to. So if you notice any irregularities with your appliances, call on an appliance repair technician straight away.

4. Under-the-Floor Heaters

Under-the-floor heaters are installed — you guessed it — under the floor, heating the home through electrical heating wires. These systems are typically less expensive to install and offer long-term energy cost savings. Plus, unlike radiators and HVACs, they don’t require bulky hardware to heat your home. 

5. Use Natural Cleaning Supplies

A small way to help the environment without breaking the bank is using organic, non-toxic cleaners. Avoiding harsh chemicals is also safer for the health of you and your family.

You can even make your own all-purpose cleaning solution with products like white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and essential oils. 

6. Add Compost to Your Garden or Yard

Compost is organic material that acts as a great source of minerals for your garden and is a natural plant fertilizer. By composting, you can avoid the need for synthetic fertilizers, reduce landfill waste, and even conserve water, as composting can help soil retain moisture longer.

Composting is quite easy. Just save any organic material from your kitchen (like fruit and veggie scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds) as well as weeds and leaf cuttings from your yard in a composting bin or pile. Note that meat scraps should not be composted. When the organic material begins to look dark and crumbly — typically after a few weeks — it’s ready to be added to your garden. 

7. Use Drought-Tolerant, Native Plants for Landscaping

Many parts of the United States are currently undergoing droughts and are running out of potable water. To help conserve water, consider using drought-tolerant and native plants in your landscaping designs. Drought-tolerant plants trap moisture in their leaves and do not need to be watered as frequently, saving homeowners not only money, but time. 

Native plants are another great way to protect the environment while creating a beautiful garden. These plants are perfectly adapted to local climate and soil conditions and provide nectar and pollen to the native insects.

8. Low-Flow Toilets

Toilets are typically a home’s biggest source of water waste. Older toilets can use as much as 6 gallons per flush. Significant advancements have been made in the latrine scene, though, and low-flow toilets can use as little as 1.3 gallons per flush or less. 

9. Water-Based Eco Wall Paint

Most of the harmful fumes associated with house paint are due to the oils they contain. This does not happen with water-based paint. Not only that, but they are stain- and mildew-resistant, and higher quality water-based acrylic paints can last more than a decade. 

10. Repurpose and Reuse House Products 

Reduce your waste and spending by reusing and repurposing certain home products. This can include refillable spray bottles for cleaning solutions, canvas grocery bags, and switching from paper towels to washable towels.

Thomas O'Shaughnessy

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