Skip to Content
Home Ownership

Easy Ways to Make an Eco-Friendly Home

Plant filled living room

Easy Ways to Make an Eco-Friendly Home

Did you know that by simply replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs or installing programmable thermostats, you can reduce your carbon footprint, help the environment and even save money? As Americans become more environmentally conscious, it’s increasingly common to apply simple eco-enhancements to our living spaces.

In fact, thanks to emerging technology, it’s easier than ever to make an existing home or new build more environmentally friendly. Here are some simple steps to get you started:

Building a Home? 4 Green Housing Ideas That Can Save Money Long-Term

If you’re building a new home, you’re in an advantageous position when it comes to eco-friendly options. Advancements in construction techniques and technologies now make it more feasible to build a residence that is easier on the environment and your wallet. Consider the following:

  1. Ask for 2” x 6” framing and upgrade your insulation
    Upgrading to 2X6 framing alone won’t grant you any efficiency points, but the added spacing in your exterior walls will accommodate thicker insulation. As a result, you’ll keep more of that precious heated or cooled air inside. It’s an opportunity to give a little love to the planet, while saving money on energy bills and even creating a better sound barrier for your home.

  2. More solid surface floors
    Carpeting, in general, is a relatively inexpensive way to finish the floors.  However, the vast majority of affordable carpet is made of synthetic material. Since it has a relatively short life span—usually 10 years or less—you’ll be adding to the landfill every decade when you have to replace your flooring.

    Instead, consider using wood or engineered flooring.  A wood floor could last up to 100 years and can be regularly refinished to keep its like-new shine.  There is also a health benefit to solid surface flooring since it doesn’t trap pollen and dust like carpeting can.

  3. Upgraded heating and cooling systems
    Installing a geothermal HVAC system might have a higher upfront cost, but you’ll realize the payback over time.  Energy star certified geothermal heat pumps are 45 percent more efficient than standard heating and cooling options, and since they don’t require combustion to generate heat, there is no exhaust, making it healthier for the environment.

  4. Pick energy efficient appliances
    While you may save money by bringing existing appliances from your current home into a new build, you could actually be increasing your energy costs in the long-run.  Many appliances built today use less energy than models made just a decade ago.  For the biggest energy-saving benefits, look for models with the Energy Star rating.

3 Eco-Friendly Updates To Make In Your Existing Home

While modern building techniques to reduce your carbon footprint and make your house more energy efficient are amazing when you’re planning to build, you may just be looking for ideas to make your existing residence more eco-friendly. Here are three places to begin:

  1. Replace your dated power strips with modern advanced power strips (APS)
    Let’s face it, electronic devices are everywhere, but did you know that those all-important gadgets consume energy, even when we aren’t using them?  Just by being plugged into an outlet our favorite electronics cost us money. There is even a term for it, and these “energy vampires” cost the average household about $200 annually, according to energy.gov.

    Fortunately, there is an easy and low-cost way to solve the problem: replace your dated power strips with APS. APS work by preventing electronics from drawing power when not in use and range in price from $12 for a basic device, up to $100 for one with programable features. Best of all, they are readily available at your local hardware store.

  2. Scrap the sprinkler in favor of drip irrigation
    Many of us spend money each year to plant annual plants and flowers in outdoor pots or gardens. While our beautiful blooms add color and beauty to the landscape and help the bees and butterflies, they also require regular watering to stay alive.

    Most irrigation methods work by spraying water out over the ground, and while this approach allows you to easily cover large spaces, it isn’t necessarily the most efficient method. In fact, up to 50 percent of the precious H2O we use for outdoor watering is lost through evaporation or other factors.

    Drip irrigation is an eco-friendly alternative to protect your investment. Soaker hoses or tubing disperse water gradually, directly to the soil where it is absorbed. These watering devices easily attach to the hose bib on the side of your home and can be connected to programmable timing devices, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn off the water. Best of all, drip irrigation is 90 percent water efficient, allowing you to save money, too.

  3. Choose native plants for your yard
    A beautiful green lawn is a typical feature of the American home in many parts of the country, but it takes a lot of energy and money to keep it watered, mowed and fertilized each year.  By replacing some of the green grass with native trees, shrubs and plants, you can reduce watering needs while still adding to the curb appeal of your residence. Eliminating areas of grass will also cut the time spent on mowing—saving fuel and carbon emissions and the need for chemical fertilizers.

Eco-Friendly Homes Benefit Us All

There are many ways to be eco-friendly, and fortunately, some take very little effort. By making a few minor upgrades to your home and outdoor spacer, or considering eco-innovations when you are building, you can reduce your impact on the environment while enjoying cost advantages. Ultimately, it’s a win for everyone when we take the small steps that add up to a big, positive impact on our planet.

Read More Insights