5 Ways to Make Your Home More Sustainable
As homes undergo wear and tear over the years, you want to make sure the improvements you make will last you longer than the original products. You’ll also want to make sure that you're making a positive impact on the home, your community, and the overall environment. There are some sustainable changes, big and small, you can make to your home that will last a lifetime, avoid some environmental risks, and have a positive impact on your community. .
Solar energy is one of the most popular sustainable swaps in the last few years. A large appeal of this type of energy usage is that it allows you to continue your same level of consumption while avoiding harmful fossil fuels. This could also be appealing if you are looking to save money on your home over the long run, especially as the prices of gas around the world continue to rise.
To have your home run on solar there are two popular options. The first and far more popular option is to install solar panels on your property. This option is currently being incentivized across the states through the Solar Investment Tax Credit that was recently extended to 2024. This is a system that allows tax-paying homeowners to receive up to 26% off their solar installation price, which can then be refunded through tax returns in up to thousands of dollars.
In addition, some states like California are beginning to mandate that all new buildings, including homes, be built with solar capabilities. This might be a great time to get ahead of this trend if you foresee your state following suit. The final option that you can consider is reaching out to your energy provider to see if they have a renewable alternative. Not all energy providers have this option, but as demand grows, more are starting to supply it.
Composting is a way of disposing of your food waste to keep it out of landfills. You can then repurpose these scraps for other tasks like gardening as it makes great soil for future crops. No matter how much you consume, most households tend to accumulate food waste even if it’s only the unusable parts of the food such as a banana peel.
Composting is something you can do regardless of the size of your home. After choosing a place for your compost pile, you can begin the layering process of adding your food waste to the pile. Experts recommend staying away from adding dairy, meat, or foods cooked in excessive oil to your compost as it will attract bugs and rodents. Continue to add to the compost as you accumulate waste and it will take about two months to a year to completely break down depending on the types of scraps. Once the compost is broken down, you can add it to a garden or any house plants as this nutrient-rich soil will help your plants grow healthy.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Appliances are one of the biggest energy consumers in the home. Some of these appliances include: refrigerators, dishwashers, water heaters, washing and drying machines, and electric car chargers. Installing energy-efficient appliances will help you reduce your overall consumption while reducing your bills.
In the name of sustainability, keep your current appliances until they are beyond repair to avoid sending them to a landfill prematurely. Or if you are eager to get new appliances, but your old ones are in good working condition, consider donating them as there are plenty of nonprofits that will accept appliances and rehome them to families in need. Then once you have decided what to do with your original appliances, you can swap for more efficient ones.
Due to older construction of windows, most homes lose up to 50% of energy through their windows. Newer windows have specialized types of glass and airtight technologies that are designed to keep the heat in and the cold out which can reduce your energy usage and your energy bill. This type of home upgrade is great if you live in a more temperate climate where it is hot in the summer but cold in the winter.
If your windows are currently in good condition and do not need to be replaced, but you are still worried about the loss of energy, consider blackout or thermal curtains. These types of curtains better maintain the heat of a home and can protect your home from energy fluctuations as the weather changes.
Collecting rainwater is a great way to have a clean inventory saved for activities that don’t require filtered water, such as watering the grass or your plants. This can be especially helpful for parts of the U.S. that frequently experience droughts and limits on water usage. Water collection can be as easy as leaving a rain barrel outside to collect rainwater. However, there are more complex systems available to a consumer who would like to filter their water or connect to a heater. However, some locations have such heavy air pollution that drinking filtered rainwater is still not recommended.
Financing Sustainable Upgrades
Making any combination of these changes will have a long-lasting impact on the sustainability of your home and your surrounding community. However, not all of these changes will be easy, and some might even come with some upfront expenses. If you are considering one of the more major home renovation projects, know how you are going to finance it. If this is your forever home, you could use a 401k or your retirement fund. Alternatively, you could leverage your home equity, which is tax-deductible when used for home improvement projects. Another option is contacting contractors that have payment plans instead of mandating payment all at one time.These are just a few of the ways you can make your home more sustainable; there are several other methods you could consider in addition. No matter your habits or your budget, you can always find creative ways to be more sustainable within the home.