(BPT) — Taking steps to live a greener lifestyle at home not only can help protect the environment, but it can improve the comfort in your home and help save money, too. According to a study conducted by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI), 41% of Americans want to buy green products for their home. Strategic home feature upgrades and smart habits can help save on utility bills, reduce your water and carbon footprints, and potentially benefit your budget long term.
We have all found ourselves with a little more time at home recently and may have time for some small DIY projects. Fortunately, green home improvements don’t have to be difficult. Here are five ideas to make your home more sustainable and help save money:
1. Install a rain water barrel
Watering a lawn and garden is essential to the health of the landscape, but running water for hours at a time can be costly and unsustainable. One alternative is investing in a rain barrel. A rain barrel can be purchased at a reasonable price and stores rain water to use later when watering your landscape. Some cities and counties even offer discounted rain barrels to residents to encourage water conservation, so call your local municipality to learn about potential options.
2. Use a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat works by automatically raising or lowering the temperature in your house based on your selected settings to keep it comfortable when you’re home and save energy when you’re not. Smart thermostats are enhanced versions of programmable thermostats that can learn your habits and be controlled remotely from an app. With either option, you could potentially save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
3. Use natural light and update bulbs
The natural light that comes into a home does not cost any money, so it is a perfect source to naturally light up a room. Not only does this save on energy costs, the sunshine may boost your mood. On darker days and in the evening, turn on ENERGY STAR® certified light bulbs that can save up to 90% in energy consumption when compared to standard bulbs. Using less energy is better for the environment and for the wallet, so use electric lights only when needed and turn them off every time you leave a room.
ENERGY STAR and the ENERGY STAR mark are registered trademarks owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
4. Upgrade to energy-efficient windows, appliances or HVAC System
Making energy-efficient home upgrades often requires an investment, but these upgrades can potentially increase your home’s value. For example, installing new energy-efficient windows or appliances or heating and cooling systems that use less energy could increase the value of your home. To help fund certain qualifying home improvements in select areas, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance offers its Home Upgrade loan program, or “HUG” financing. “Home owners deserve the opportunity to upgrade or repair their current home without draining their savings,” says Eric Hamilton, president of Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. “The HUG loan program gives qualified applicants* a chance to responsibly upgrade their home, whether you’re planning energy-efficiency upgrades or tackling an emergency repair.”
5. Use green cleaning supplies
Natural and eco-friendly cleaning supplies do not use harmful chemicals, which is better for your local water supply and is a great option when cleaning surfaces your family uses often. There are many cleaning supply alternatives that are available at local retail stores that contain less potentially harmful chemicals, or you might consider making your own cleaners at home. Pantry staples like baking soda, distilled white vinegar and lemon juice are common ingredients for creating DIY cleaners that are better for the environment and often cost just pennies to make.
Whether it’s taking a small step like changing to energy-efficient light bulbs or a bigger step like financing energy-efficient home improvements with Vanderbilt’s HUG loan program, you should feel proud that you’re making a positive impact on the environment and its future. The energy savings and potential lower utility costs are a welcomed benefit of your sustainability efforts at home.