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7 Budget-friendly Sustainable Upgrades for Your Home

Aug 1, 2022

With a plethora of sustainable options growing more accessible in home interior and renovations, more homeowners are considering the ways they can renovate their homes to be friendlier both to the environment and their wallets. This is especially evident as approximately 44% of Americans have the quality of the environment on their minds.

Because of these new improvements in accessibility, the myriad of potential renovations and choices in overall environmentally-friendly home options may feel overwhelming to homeowners. However, several improvements can be made without breaking the bank. Even better, many upgrades to a home don’t require special technology, and simply come down to incorporating new, higher-quality features.

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Solar Panel Installation on rooftop

LED Lighting

While LED lighting isn’t a particularly new invention in American homes, the benefits of LEDs over incandescent and CFL lights remain a well-known fact. Specifically, “residential LEDs use at least 75% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.”

Further, LED lighting is even proven to last longer, and emits more light than its incandescent counterparts. They also come in a wider range of colors and light temperatures, allowing for a wider range of options when it comes to interior design in any room in the house.

New Attic Insulation

While proper insulation in the attic isn’t as flashy as some other energy-saving renovation options, it stands to be one of the most important parts of preventing wasted energy in a home.

Especially in the winter, rising warm air lost through a poorly insulated attic leads to unnecessary energy costs as more heat is produced in an attempt to maintain warmth. Understandably, this creates a cycle of heat-creation and heat-loss. Different types of attic insulation to prevent this include:

  • Batts and rolls that fill the space between studs in the walls;
  • Blown-in loose fill comprised of fibers or pellets that are ideal for unfinished spaces and attics with unusual obstacles in insulation fitting;
  • Expanding foam that, like loose-fill, is perfect for filling tight spaces that batting or rolls might not easily set into.

Low-flow Showerheads

In consideration of the amount of water used in standard American households every day, the EPA established the Water Sense campaign to spread awareness about conservation. Specifically, Americans are estimated to use an average of 82 gallons of water each day at home, with bathrooms considered to be the largest source of that number at about 50%.

Not only do low-flow showerheads conserve water while maintaining the pressure of high-flow counterparts, but they also decrease water use by 40% or more, reduce the cost of water heating, and can have an overall positive effect on water bills.

Insulated Ducts

Not unlike improved attic insulation, insulated ducts can contribute to improved energy use throughout a home. Additionally, well-maintained air ducts ensure improved air quality in general.

In regards to the cost of poorly insulated or “leaky” air ducts, Energy Star specifically states, “leaky ducts can reduce heating and cooling system efficiency by as much as 20 percent.” They also go on to state that improved duct insulation can lead to overall savings on energy costs while improving energy efficiency.

Weather-stripping

Weather-stripping encompasses many forms of household upgrades, but mostly refers to things like caulking window frames, inserting vinyl strips between seams, and other small fixes to improve overall insulation and prevent air leakage.

In a similar way to how proper attic and duct insulation improves overall energy efficiency, improved weatherstripping does the same by reducing the amount of energy lost through loose window panes, doors, and other external cracks. Weatherstripping comes in a variety of different options, including but not limited to:

  • Tension seals, in the form of folded vinyl strips, or made from other materials, that help form a seal against drafts in windows or doors;
  • Felt, sometimes reinforced, glued, or otherwise tacked into areas with drafts or cracks that need to be covered;
  • Reinforced foam, used with doors and windows, attached to wood or metal strips;
  • Tape, a generally effective form of reducing drafts or sealing cracks that may allow for drafts;
  • Door sweeps made of vinyl, aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, etc., installed under the lip of a door to prevent drafts when the door is closed.

Smart Thermostats

When it comes to high-tech options, advancements in smart appliances have exploded over the past decade. Specifically, smart thermostats have evolved to be more energy-friendly than ever before. Not only are they easily programmable to change internal temperature based on habits throughout the day, but many can also record data and become “smarter” and more efficient by applying what is learned through that data tracking.

Solar Panels

Solar panels may require the highest initial investment cost, but have the potential to provide impressive financial savings in the long term as well. By utilizing the power of the sun, solar panels can produce useable energy in a home through both electrical power as well as potential temperature control.

Not only are solar panels beneficial for both the environment and your wallet, but they are also easy to install, simple to maintain, and allow for a greater sense of ownership around the energy used at home. Rather than relying on energy grids or other public services, utilizing one’s own solar energy source means you control input, output, and to some extent, the monthly expected cost of use.

Rooftop-installed solar panels not only contribute to general energy needs, but can also provide heating and cooling abilities. Solar heating systems generally come in “liquid heating” or “air heating” options and provide warmth to interior spaces utilizing the energy of the sun.

Depending on the needs of your home and the type of solar energy you’re interested in, contacting a reputable solar panel installer in your area will be your best bet in investing in exactly the tools you need.

When seeking opportunities to improve environmental friendliness in your home, starting small before working up to larger investments is the best way to ensure long-term success. Being more sustainable doesn’t require huge overhauls or renovations, and can be as simple as changing inside lighting or being more conscious of how energy is used daily.

Once those habits become second nature, implementing bigger projects, like solar panels, can feel more approachable. Until then, awareness and intention in day-to-day choices can make a valuable difference in energy use.

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Solgen Power is a solar energy equipment company that sells and installs solar for homeowners. Solgen Power has been recognized by INC. 5000 as one of the fastest growing companies in the nation. Solgen Power has grown nationwide and continues to provide excellent customer service to homeowners.

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