Saving the planet doesn’t mean you must only take drastic steps to reduce your impact on the environment.
Sometimes it simply means making one small eco-friendly change at a time.
However, for large-scale upgrades and more costly home improvements, get home equity information you need to make the financing decision that’s right for your situation.
The following earth-friendly updates are a great place to start to reduce your carbon footprint and get on the path to creating and maintaining a greener home.
Bathroom – If you’re looking to update your bathroom, start by replacing pre-1994 toilets, showerheads and sinks with energy-efficient models. This will help your budget by saving on your monthly water bill. According to HGTV.com, low-flow toilets can save as much as $90 of your water bill annually.
Energy – Although often a pricey investment, solar panels have the potential to save a lot of money on energy costs and electricity bills in the long run. However, not all roofs are created equal when it comes to harnessing the sun’s power. Ideally, a roof outfitted with solar panels should be shade-free and facing south for maximum sun exposure.
Fireplace – While it sounds counterintuitive, a vent-free gas fireplace is often a better choice than a traditional wood-burning one when it comes to conserving energy. Consider this: When you burn wood, the flue is open and the warm air escapes through the chimney. However, with a vent-less fireplace, the flue can stay closed and the gas burns with 100 percent efficiency, creating warm air to heat your home, letting you also turn your heat down.
Floor – Hardwood flooring is beautiful and often a great upgrade for your home. However, if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly and sustainable option, consider cork flooring. According to HGTV.com, it is not only durable, warm and resistant to spills, but it is often made from discarded cork at bottle-stopping factories.
Lighting – If you want to save energy, why not install motion sensor lighting on your property? One of easiest ways to save energy is to install outdoor motion sensor lighting and lighting on timers around your house. Some people leave garage and backyard lights, front porch lighting and other low-traffic area lights on 24 hours a day, but changing over to motion sensor or timed lighting is an easy way to save energy and money.
Outdoor space – If you’ve never thought about how to reuse products in an outdoor space, think again. Bypass the mulch of the past and fill your flower beds and gardens will recycled mulch. Made mostly of rubber scraps like tires, it’s a great “green” substitute for wood chips. It’s also a safe alternative to use under jungle gyms and backyard play areas for children as they don’t cause splinters.
Paint – Look for low volatile organic compounds (VOC) paints. Low VOC paints are free of carcinogenic carbon-based chemicals like formaldehyde and pesticides, which can be harmful to your family and the environment.
Recycling – While recycling probably won’t save you any money, recycling is a simple and easy step on the road to eco-friendly living. Make it a family affair and get the kids involved in creating recycling bins for aluminum, glass and plastic. Teaching green-living to the next generation is as important as the changes you make in your home today.
Wallpaper – Much of the wallpaper of the past was made with toxic glue and chemicals. Recently, however, natural wallpapers have flooded the decorating market and no longer contain only synthetic materials. Available options even include materials such as sea grass, that give rooms an organic, natural look.
Water heater – According to HGTV’s Front Door blog, a solar-powered water heater is also a good way to reduce your hot water bills up to 80 percent. But like solar panels, it’s also a more costly investment in the short term, so be sure to weigh the cost to savings ratio when deciding if this update is right for you.
Not all environmentally-friendly updates are costly, but for those that are more of an investment, consider using the home equity you’ve built in your home as a way to afford these worthwhile upgrades. Get the home equity information you need to find the home improvement financing options for your future updates. Also find answers to questions like, “How much can I borrow?” using helpful loan calculators to help make the right choice for your unique situation.