How To Make Your Home More Sustainable (Top 7 Tips!)
There are a lot of reasons why more and more homeowners are switching to green home solutions, seeking out sustainable home design and opting for eco-friendly homes. Whether you’re interested in lessening your impact on the environment or you’re looking to save money on water and energy bills (or both!), sustainable homes are becoming more popular.
Increasing energy costs and environmental concerns remain front-page news, but, thankfully, there are a variety of things you can do to create a sustainable home. Of course, if you’re looking for how to make your apartment more sustainable, there are several things you can do to make your apartment more sustainable, too!
Though there are many features of a sustainable house and various other smaller projects you can do to contribute to a life of sustainable living, the following are the most important features of a sustainable house and where you should begin. Keep reading for the top 7 things you should do when creating a sustainable home design.
Top 7 things to do when creating a sustainable Home Design
#1 Smart Meters
Not sure how to make your home more sustainable? The absolute first thing you should do is research smart meters.
So, what is a smart meter?
A smart meter is an electronic device that tracks and records the use of electricity within homes. Unlike the outdated analog meters used by electric utility companies that have to be read manually each month, smart meters automatically capture information about electricity consumption and send this information back to the electricity company. There are many advantages of a smart meter for both the electricity company and the homeowner.
- Smart meters can be programmed so that they only come on during certain times of the day. This way, you are not wasting money and electricity to heat up or cool down your home when you are not home.
- Smart meters ensure more accurate energy bills and provide more detailed feedback regarding energy use.
- Smart meters come with home display monitors, so you can understand better your energy usage. This allows homeowners to adjust their habits in order to lower electricity bills.
- For electricity companies, smart meters encourage dynamic pricing, which can raise or lower the cost of electricity depending on demand.
For anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint or decrease their energy bills, smart meters are an absolute must.
#2 Energy-Efficient Appliances
Want to know how to make your home more sustainable?
Eco-friendly homes use energy-efficient appliances.
When it comes time to replace your old appliances (e.g. refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher or oven), look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star is a partnership between the EPA and appliance manufacturers to create appliances that are low-energy and low-water. Energy-efficient appliances with an Energy Star label offer significant savings on water and energy (10 – 15%) without compromising on performance. Additionally, your energy provider might offer incentives to replace old appliances with more efficient ones.
Though energy-efficient appliances cost a little more upfront, this initial cost is offset by utility company rebates and tax rebates you would get for purchasing the energy-efficient appliances, as well as lower water and energy bills down the line.
#3 Compost & Recycling
If you’re searching for how to make your home more sustainable, how to create a sustainable home or how to make your home more eco-friendly, two things you can do to transform your home into a green home are recycling and composting.
About 40% of the waste produced in homes is organic, compostable materials, and another 40% is recyclable materials. Thus, the vast majority of waste in homes can be reused in some way, rather than being shuttled to a landfill. When you do not recycle or compost and all waste is sent to a landfill, your organic food waste produces methane gas and your recyclable products will go to sit, creating the need to consume more natural resources, increasing energy expenditure.
Sustainable living with composting
When you have a compost bin as part of your sustainable home design, you save on money, save on resources, improve the quality of your soil and help to reduce your impact on the environment.
- With a compost bin, you do not need to buy chemical fertilizers (saving on money and reducing your impact).
- When you compost, you waste less water (saving on money and on resources), since compost helps to retain moisture so you water less.
- Compost returns nutrients to the soil to help maintain soil quality and fertility.
- When you compost, you reduce Greenhouse Gases in 2 ways:
- Reduce carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles used to transport waste to landfills.
- Reduce the production of methane gas, which is generated by food waste in landfills.
Sustainable living with recycling
When you have recycling bins as part of your green home design, you help to conserve resources, save on energy, help to protect the environment and reduce landfill.
- When you recycle, materials are converted into new products, which reduces the need to consume more natural resources.
- In the manufacturing process, using recyclable materials to create new products requires significantly less energy than using raw materials to create new products.
- When we extract, refine and process raw materials, air and water pollution is generated. When you recycle, you reduce the need to acquire raw materials, cutting down on pollution.
- When recyclable products are reprocessed into new products, the amount of waste sent to landfills decreases, which decrease the amount of methane gas produced.
For anyone looking for how to make your home more sustainable, recycling and composting are 2 things you absolutely must do to create your green home.
#4 LED or CFL Lights (Not Incandescent!)
If you’re looking for how to run an eco-friendly household and want to know how to make your home more sustainable, one of the most important things you can do is invest in the right light bulbs. Though energy-efficient light bulbs have been around for a while now, it has taken some time for many people to make the switch. However, with about 12% of an average home’s energy bill going toward lighting, it is about time to make that switch.
Advantages of LED and CFL lights
Eco-friendly homes utilize LED (light emitting diode) and CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) lights to save on energy, reduce electricity bills and reduce their environmental footprint.
Consider these advantages of LED & CFL lights:
- LED and CFL lights use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
- LED and CFL lights last 10 – 20 times longer than incandescent lights, meaning that fewer of them end up in landfills and you spend less money replacing them.
- Standard incandescent lights emit a fair amount of heat (more than LED and CFL lights), which causes your air conditioner to run more to compensate.
- Many utility companies offer rebates when you purchase energy-efficient bulbs like LED or CFL.
#5 Energy-Efficient Windows
If you’re trying to transform your older home into a green home and want to know how to make your home more sustainable, keep in mind that older homes tend to have gaps around the doors and windows, which can be equivalent to leaving a window wide open all year round. The expensive hot air in the winter and expensive cold air in the summer is seeping out, causing you to spend more money on heating or cooling your home. If you have older windows, there are 2 things you can do:
- Put weather stripping around doors and windows, which will help save you 10% on your heating and cooling bill and help to prevent wasted energy. This product can be found at most hardware stores. The foam roll version is around $5 per 10 feet while the plastic version can cost up to $350 but is more durable.
- Replace old windows with energy-efficient windows, or windows with an Energy Star label. Though these windows can be quite expensive, they will help to save 7 – 15% per energy bill. You can also find an Energy Star window based on your particular climate zone. Though they cost extra money upfront, energy-efficient windows make up for that extra cost with energy savings in a relatively short amount of time.
#6 Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures
Not sure how to make your home more sustainable? There are many low-flow features you can add to your home to help conserve water, cut down on your water bill costs and save you money. Eco-friendly homes include low-flow features, such as faucets, shower heads, and toilets.
Toilets are the primary source of water use in a home, accounting for almost 30% of an average home’s indoor water consumption. While older toilets used as much as 6 gallons of water per flush, newer and more efficient toilets use 1.28 gallons of water or less. Thus, if you replace all of your older toilets with newer WaterSense models, the average family can reduce water use by 20 – 60% and can save $110 per year.
Showering accounts for nearly 17% of residential indoor water use. Older showerheads released about 5 gallons of water a minute. Thus, the average family used about 40 gallons of water a day just for showering. When you switch to low-flow shower heads with a WaterSense label, you will use no more than 2 gallons of water a minute, which cuts down on your water bill, conserves water and saves energy as well, by reducing the demands on the water heater.
If you’re looking for how to create a sustainable home and how to transform your home into a green home, switching out your older plumbing fixtures to low-flow, WaterSense features are one of the best things you can do.
#7 Add Insulation
Definitely, one of the most important features of a sustainable house is proper insulation. Since heating and cooling account for nearly half of your home’s energy consumption, proper insulation is necessary to ensure that the energy you expend to heat or cool your home is not escaping through the walls, windows or roof. The level of insulation you need depends on where you live and can be found by checking EnergyStar.gov. To properly insulate your home, it can cost up to a few thousand dollars (assuming the insulation is non-existent or severely lacking) and will need to be done by a licensed contractor. However, keep in mind that many cities and states offer tax rebates to get this work done, which can help, and the amount of money and energy you’ll be saving with a properly insulated house is significant.
And there you have it!
The top 7 things you should do as a homeowner to transform your home into a green home. Knowing how to make your home more sustainable can be difficult — where do you even begin?! However, eco-friendly homes are an aspiration for many homeowners and, hopefully, you have a handle now on the first steps you should take when trying to determine how to make your home eco-friendly.
This post was written by Kara Roberts, blogger and content writer for Canvas Vows. We specialize in creating custom made canvas prints and have been featured in a number of publications, including Brides. For more interior design tips, gift ideas, anniversary celebrations, and personalized canvas creations check out our blog!