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Go Green: 15 Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

Searching for green renovations to create a sustainable home? There are many benefits to making energy-efficient upgrades, including reducing your carbon footprint, tax incentives, and lower energy bills. Plus, most of these improvements are home features that buyers want, so they increase the resale value of your property. Ready to go green at home? Discover eco-friendly projects that will beautify your space below!

Change Light Bulbs

An easy and inexpensive energy-efficient home idea is to replace your current incandescent light bulbs with LED versions. One Energy Star certified light bulb lasts 15 times longer and uses 70-90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. While LED lights can cost up to $8 a bulb, each can save $100 per light bulb over its lifespan. Another pro tip is to invest in smart light bulbs that can be controlled through an app or smart speaker to ensure that energy isn’t wasted by accidentally leaving lights on in your home. Exterior lights can also be switched to LED versions to make the most of energy savings.

Get a Smart Thermostat

There’s a reason programmable thermostats continue to grow in popularity! This green home improvement requires minimal effort and investment with costs ranging from $100-$300. Programmable thermostats adjust the temperature when no one is home or when everyone is headed to bed, and it can decrease your energy bill by 10% or more with higher tech models.

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Recaulk & Weatherstrip Leaks

Woman adding caulk to wooden panel in home. Photo by Instagram user @gharpedia

Photo via @gharpedia

Doing energy-efficient home renovations on a budget? Before you replace windows and doors, add a fresh coat of caulk. Start with the areas of your home that feel drafty. If problem spots are less noticeable, there are tips for detecting leaks, such as checking baseboards for cracks. Weatherstripping is another way to make doors or windows—especially those in older homes—more efficient. Turning recaulking and weatherstripping into a DIY project could keep costs as low as $100. However, many opt to hire a professional handyman to ensure they reduce energy loss as much as possible, which can be anywhere from 10-20%.

Add Ceiling Fans

For your next energy-efficient home renovation project, use fans to get air flowing! New fans add a modern touch to any room and can help lower your AC bill during warmer months. Fans should also be used in colder months to circulate warm air to reduce heating costs! While one specific style of fan is not touted as the most energy-efficient, choosing Energy Star certified fans can help ensure you’re not wasting electricity.

Improve Attic Insulation

Green renovations can be as simple as adding more insulation to your attic space! If your apartment, condo, or house was built recently using an energy-efficient home design, proper insulation was likely accounted for. However, if your house was built more than ten years ago, adding more insulation could lower heating costs.

Update Windows…

Replacing old, leaky windows is another sustainable renovation idea! New windows will refresh your home on the inside and out, as well as keep hot or cold air from getting in or out. Homeowners can see up to 70.8% recouped costs on wooden window replacements and savings reflected on energy bills. New, more efficient skylights can replace old models or be added to homes in cooler climates that can benefit from passive solar heating.

…and Doors, Too

House with modern front door. Photo by Instagram user @duimeringhomes

Photo via @duimeringhomes

Make swapping out old doors your next green home project! Replacing your front door with a new steel model can see 74.9% of costs recouped. Swapping out old patio doors with thicker and better insulated models is also another way to help regulate the temperature in your home.

Try Environmentally-Friendly Paint or Wallpaper

Palm plethora wallpaper. Photo by Instagram user @dalwindesigns

Photo via @dalwindesigns

If you’re planning to update a bedroom, living room, or den with a fresh coat of paint or funky wallpaper, be sure to use eco-friendly materials. Not only does sustainable paint or wallpaper create less waste as it’s being made, but it also keeps harmful toxins out of the air in your home.

Replace Your Water Heater

Dealing with a high water bill each month? Old storage water heaters waste a ton of energy by heating water, even when you’re not using it. On-demand tanklessheat pumps, and solar water heaters are more expensive to buy upfront, but they can save you $40-$110 a year on your water bill. Savings will depend on the size of water heater you need, availability of different fuel types in the area, and the amount of water your household uses. Adding insulation around hot water pipes is a budget-friendly, green home improvement tip that can make your home more energy efficient for a fraction of the cost of major renovations.

Maximize Your Laundry Room

Not sure how to be environmentally friendly at home? Choose eco-friendly washers and dryers! While most front-loading machines cut down greatly on water usage, adding hooks or racks in your laundry room so you can hang clothes to dry is another great idea. Installing a bin or basket system to sort clothes pre-wash is another way to help make the most of every load and reduce the amount of warm or hot water used!

Update the Kitchen

Kitchen renovations are one of the best ways to see a large increase in resale value! A major kitchen remodel can deliver a 62.1% return on renovation costs invested. One tested way to recoup a large portion of initial costs is to replace old appliances with more efficient models. New refrigerators, freezers, stoves, ovens, microwaves, and dishwashers will make this space stand out and reduce your electricity and gas bills. Environmentally-friendly homeowners doing a full kitchen renovation can also opt for bamboo, recycled glass, quartz, or concrete counters for an eco-conscious, long-lasting option. Sustainably-sourced hardwood and bamboo floors, as well as recycled cabinets, can all be included in your green kitchen makeover, too!

Opt for Low-Flow Bathroom Fixtures

Sustainable bathroom vanity. Photo by Instagram user @sustainable9

Photo via @sustainable9

Wondering how to go green in an old home? Tackle your bathroom! Just like the kitchen, this is a sure-fire spot to see a large increase in resale value. On average, homeowners achieve 67.2% of costs recouped on a mid-range bathroom remodel. Swapping out inefficient toilets, showers, and faucets for low-flow systems will increase the value of your home, as well as reduce your monthly water bill.

Upgrade HVAC Systems

Thermal heat pump. Photo by Instagram user @energysmartgeo

Photo via @energysmartgeo

Did you know that heating your home accounts for 45% of energy used? That’s why a solid green renovation idea is to replace your old furnace or boiler with an Energy Star certified model. New eco-friendly technology like geothermal heat pumps are ideal in more temperate climates and can be used to cool your home. Those using old central air conditioners can decrease energy used between 20-50% by switching to a more efficient model. Ductless, mini-split AC units are also a sustainable cooling option for home additions or areas where central AC cannot easily be installed.

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Get a Cool Roof​

Replacing your roof is the perfect opportunity to invest in “cooler” technology! Not only will getting a new roof give your exterior a facelift, but it’s also the perfect time to perform an energy-efficient home improvement! Cool roofs can be created using metal building materials or light-colored asphalt shingles. They work by reflecting heat instead of absorbing it, thus reducing fluctuations in home temperatures. Homeowners can see on average 60.9% of the cost recouped on a metal roof and a 10-15% reduction on AC bills. You can also apply a coating to your current roof to help make it cooler if yours isn’t ready to be replaced.

Invest in Solar Panels

If you initially missed the opportunity to build an energy-efficient home, there’s still time! One major green renovation is to invest in active solar technology. The efficiency of solar will depend on where you live, if your home is shaded, and the shape of your roof. Because the initial costs to get started can add up to $20,000 and beyond, be sure to have a solar panel installation professional analyze all of these factors before you take the plunge. If you do meet the requirements and want to go green in a big way, consider solar!

Energy-efficient homes are great for the earth, as well as resale values! Searching for other ways to increase the value of your home? Check out these home remodeling ideas! Once your home is ready, embrace this guide to green living at home!


Data from Energy.gov

Energy Efficient Home Improvement Ideas

Energy Efficient Home Renovation Ideas
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