“Going green” is an overwhelming concept for some - especially those who have large homes in need of many upgrades. However, you can do lots of things to improve your home’s footprint that don't take much energy, time, or money.
These six tips below will help you cut costs on your utility bills as well as give your house more curb appeal.
1. Give your green thumb a workout
You don't need a landscape architect to plan out a lovely garden area or just add some color to your front lawn. All you need is a general idea of what you want and where you want it to go. Hanging baskets of flowers adds charm to the exterior of your home. Planting new trees provides oxygen and – when placed carefully – can provide quite a bit of shade around your house. Once mature, trees can cut your cooling bills by as much as 40% in the summer.
2. Take a good look at your windows
Windows are a very important part of your home; not only do they allow light and heat from the sun to illuminate and warm rooms, but, if they aren't properly insulated, they could be letting heat and cool air escape during the coldest and hottest months. If you can't afford to replace your windows, consider tinting them to keep the sun's glare away in the summer and reduce heat loss in winter.
3. Replace those bulbs
Older, incandescent bulbs use up a lot of energy and need replacing pretty often, depending on how much you use them. Consider spending a little more on high-energy fluorescent bulbs – particularly in rooms that get used often, such as bathrooms – and you'll see the results on your utility bill. These also take longer to burn out, so you won't need to replace them as often.
4. Repurpose when you can
Repurposing materials is a great way to stay green while giving your home's value a boost. If you're wanting to rip up carpet or kitchen flooring, for instance, consider using bamboo or cork that has been recycled. These materials are much more sustainable than hardwood and more eco-friendly than synthetic carpets.
5. Watch your water levels
Many people don't realize how much water they're using and wasting in an average day. One of the biggest ways you can run up your water bill is by waiting for it to heat up for baths or showers, so an easy solution is to install an energy-efficient hot water heater. It’s also a good idea to put in a low-flow toilet so you use less liquid when you flush.
6. Don't forget the roof
Taking out those old shingles and replacing them with a light-colored tile can help improve your energy bills drastically, especially during the summer months. Dark shingles draw sunlight in and trap heat in attic spaces and upstairs rooms, jacking up your cooling bills. Light colors are better, and you can use recycled materials as well.
While many of these projects are fun and rewarding, it's important that you have a strong understanding of DIY home repair safety before you get started. It's also a good idea to start small. Don't overwhelm yourself, and remember to be honest about what you really need. Take a good look at your home, the space you use, and your family's needs before you start any project, and sit down with a few of your most recent utility bills to see where cost-effective cuts can be made.
Paul Denikin began learning the ins and outs of DIY home repair while making his home better fit and more accessible for his daughter, Maggie, who has special needs. Paul wants to continue to help special needs parents like himself, and offer them a source for ideas. And that's why he created DadKnowsDIY.com, a website that offers home improvement project how-tos and other accessibility information. When Paul isn’t being handy around the house, he likes to take Maggie to the movies on the weekends.