When we bought our home in 2007 we spent a lot of money and time fixing and changing our home. We painted and renovated the kitchen. Things to make it feel more like home. In 2016, we became a zero waste family and focus became on upgrading our home to be more sustainable and in the process also helped us save money.
So there are many different ways to do green upgrades that will also save you money.
Duel flushing toilets- Dual flushing toilets are designed to end using extra water. You could save around 67 percent more water compared to an older, standard toilet. Ultimately, this could become a 20 percent savings on your water bill.
Solar panels- More people around the world choose to power their daily lives with the sun’s energy. And thankfully, the cost of going solar goes down every year. In 2016 we installed solar panels to our home after considering it for years. Once we had some extra money we decided to invest in solar panels. Before we had solar our electricity bill could be as high as $300 a month and since we went solar, our bill is about $10 a month for a family of five. Since we spent $17,000 to install solar, we have saved more than we spent on them this year. The best part is that with solar energy, there are minimal carbon emissions. There are also tax credits offered when installing solar so make sure that check them out. Many companies now produce solar calculators to also get a better idea of your costs vs. your savings when installing a solar system.
Removing lawns-Removing our lawn was the best thing we ever did because not only was it so hard to keep the grass looking good and it required a lawnmower, but it also required a lot of water. The main reason why lawns use more water is the irrigation system that is used to irrigate it. In California, many cities offer and rebate if you remove your grass and replace it with something requiring way less water. Lately, cities in Southern California have increased the rebate amounts to remove turf significantly. For example, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power rebates increased by 25 percent in November to $3.75 a square foot. We replaced ours with a vegetable garden, gorilla grass and succulents.
Low flow shower head- It can decrease water consumption by 40% or more and since showers also require energy to heat the water, a low flow shower head also will cut down on energy usage.
Grey water-We have installed a very simple system to divert our laundry machine water to our fruit trees in the garden. You can spend as little as we did which was less than $100 for our greywater systems from laundry to lawn to more complex systems. Full installation costs range anywhere from $800 to $4,000. A study done by the city of Santa Rosa, CA, showed that a “laundry-to-landscape” greywater system would save 15 gallons of water per person, per day. Recycling greywater from bathroom sinks and showers saves an additional 25 gallons of water per person.
Rain barrels—Especially when you live in a warm climate like we do here in South California but all over the world we see how fresh water is becoming scars so collecting rainwater to use in the garden and even kids playing makes sense. In many cities, especially in California, you can also get a tax rebate if you install rain barrels.
Double paned window- These windows have a thicker barrier between inside and outside and this will not only reduce energy use but also makes it more quiet.
Energy efficient light bulbs- The easiest way to go green is by changing out your lightbulbs. The three main types of energy-efficient light bulbs are listed below:
- CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs)
- LEDs (light-emitting diodes)
- smart bulbs.
Stop drafts — When I was sitting on the floor with the kids one day, I noticed a draft coming from one of the doors. Heat will escape through an opening, so sealing it will make a huge difference since drafts can account for up to 25% of heat loss.
One very inexpensive and easy way to prevent a draft from a door is to buy a draft snake or, better yet, make your own.
For the sides of doors and windows, use adhesive backed foam that can be found at hardware stores. It’s easy to install.
Blackout curtains-They are useful for keeping heat out in the summer months, and insulated curtains can help keep the cold out while retaining warmth inside. You can find these curtains on eBay or make your own.
smart strip– This is an inexpensive strip that automatically turns off power when not in use. There is no surprise that the kitchen is where we use a lot of power. Too many kitchen appliances are usually plugged all the time. The problem is that even when not in use, appliances use so-called phantom electricity, which makes up for more than 10% of an electricity bill. So, we unplug our coffee maker, toaster, blender, etc., after use.
Insulation-Our home used to be super hot in the summer and cold in the winter and that meant we used our heater and AC way more. My insulating attic and all walls of our house now hold temperature better so we do not need to use AC or heat as often.
I know that it’s way more fun to redo the inside of your home to make it look better but upgrading your home to make it more sustainable is a great way to increase the value of a home.