6 Green Home Improvements that Won’t Hurt Your Finances

6 Green Home Improvements that Won’t Hurt Your Finances
  • Opening Intro -

    Looking to go green with your home, but don’t have the cash to finance huge changes?

    You don’t have to start big.

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Just begin by making a few small changes to go green around your home, and reap the rewards in lower energy costs – and, of course, in feeling good about doing something healthy for the environment.

If you’re ready to go green in your home, here are six steps you can take now, even with a tight budget:

1. Conduct an Energy Audit

An energy audit isn’t really a home improvement, per se, but it does help you figure out where you need to start going green with your home improvements. Having a professional energy audit done can be expensive (though you should definitely check if your local energy supplier does them for free or cheaply), but you can do a decent audit on your own.

The first step is to check over your energy bills for the past several months. Figure out your average monthly costs, and then find out what times of the year your usage spikes. For instance, a spike in the winter might mean you’re spending way too much on heating your home because your furnace is inefficient. Next, go around your house looking for places where energy might be wasted – gaps around doors, ducts, and other places that connect indoors and out; missing or thin insulation, especially upstairs; old or moldy insulation; heating and cooling filters that need replaced; dusty ducts and vents, etc.

You can find out more specifics about doing a home energy audit from this page at the US Department of Energy website.

2.  Make Your Furnace More Efficient

Since most people spend more on heating in the wintertime than on any other single factor in their energy bills, keeping your furnace as efficient as possible is important. Luckily, there are plenty of simple ways to do this without actually replacing your furnace (though you should consider replacing one that is more than twenty years old). You can make your furnace more efficient by simply keeping the filters clean, shutting vents in rooms that don’t need to be heated, and cleaning baseboards and registers to ensure air flow is adequate.

3. Seal Up All the Cracks

Attacking any cracks or leaks in your home with a caulk gun is a very affordable way to make it more efficient – both for cooling and for heating. Check around windows and doors, and around any ducts or electrical wires that go from the inside to the outside of your home. Check around foundations, too. Minor cracks can be temporarily repaired with some caulk, but if you’re dealing with major cracking, you’ll need to call in a professional.

4. Use a Programmable Thermostat

You can get a programmable thermostat for under twenty bucks, and it’s a fantastic way to save on heating and cooling costs. Just program the thermostat according to your family’s basic schedule. In the winter, the house should be cooler when you’re asleep, for instance, but you can start it warming up a bit before everyone wakes up to a freezing house. A thermostat that allows you to program individual days is ideal, since it’s likely that not every day in your home looks the same.

5. Add a Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans can also be gotten for less than fifty dollars, and they’re a great way to cut down on your use of both heating and cooling. A ceiling fan can help cool a room by several degrees in the summer – at a fraction of the energy costs of running the air conditioning. Even in the winter, a ceiling fan can help push trapped heat from the ceiling down to where you can actually feel it. Installing and using ceiling fans in the most-used rooms of your home can seriously cut back on your energy usage.

view indoor ceiling fans

6. Put in a Dimmer Switch

One other simple-to-install item that you may consider adding into the most-used rooms in your home is a dimmer switch. Full-strength lights are often harsh and unforgiving, anyway, and most of the time, you just don’t need that much light overhead. A dimmer switch not only gives your home better ambient lighting, but it also cuts down on the energy needed to power your light bulbs.

While sometimes it’s necessary to spend big if you really want to go green – installing triple pane windows or a new HVAC system, for instance – there are plenty of budget-friendly things like these that you can do to go green around your home.

 
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