Many thanks to Direct Energy for sponsoring today’s post and for encouraging me to share my tips for an eco-friendly home.
It really can be easy being green. Even if Kermit the Frog tells you differently. And not only can it be relatively simple, it can also be worth your while.
A few weeks ago, I shared some tips to save money when renovating a fixer-upper home. I had so many positive emails and comments about that post that I thought I’d share some other ways we save money with our home and rental properties – this time by making our homes “smarter” and more eco-friendly.
I consider ourselves practically green. We want to keep our earth beautiful for Henry’s generation and beyond. But some “green” tips just don’t work for our lifestyle. (We’re not installing a composting toilet anytime soon. But we are willing to compost our food scraps.)
After five renovations, we’ve come across a variety of ways to green your fixer-upper and also save money in the long run. These are where we put our focus in our home and rental properties because they are a win-win for the environment and our pocketbooks. When renovating, you are in a unique position to make choices that are better for the environment and will save you money. To us, these are no-brainers.
1. Insulate. Insulate. Insulate.
Insulation is something that we’ve added in both of our homes and all three rental properties.
In our first house, we did it ourselves – blowing insulation into the walls from the outside before adding siding. In our second house, we went with a combination of rolled insulation and blown-in insulation from a local company. (Photo above is after the insulation was blown-in, leaving small holes in the walls to patch.) And we’ve worked with the same local company to blow in insulation in all three rental properties.
Our experience is that doing it yourself is really messy and sort of horrible. But it’s doable and relatively inexpensive. However, we are eligible for rebates, so it’s been simpler to use a company to do the messy work. Regardless of how you choose to do it, insulation is something that pays dividends – especially during never-ending winters like this one. In one property, our heating bill was cut almost in half after adding wall and attic insulation.
2. Install a Smart thermostat.
We’ve installed Smart thermostats in our home and rental properties. It offers the ability to program at home or when you are away from home, which means less energy and more money savings. In the winter, our Smart thermostat is set to a lower temperature after we go to bed and when we are out of the house. In the summer, we set it so it’s a bit warmer during these times. And when we are away from home, we can easily set it to save even more energy. We also ask our renters to do the same. (We pay for the heating for several of our rentals.)
With the Direct Energy Meridian Savings Plan, you get a competitively priced fixed energy charge, up to three Honeywell Smart Thermostats at no additional cost, plus a smartphone app that allows you to control your thermostat anytime, anywhere. Learn more about the Direct Energy Meridian Savings Plan and find more tips for a smart home.
3. Insulate and seal your duct work.
If you insulate and seal your duct work, you’ll be making your home even more efficient and make sure that all your heated and cooled air gets circulated in the right places.
4. Upgrade to new appliances.
When renovating, it’s worth the expense to upgrade from old, inefficient appliances to Energy Star® appliances. We’ve been able to find very affordable options for new appliances that don’t break the bank. I shop around and then ask for discounts for paying cash and buying all in one place. (Above are the appliances we purchased for the first house. Very basic, but also very inexpensive and still energy efficient.)
5. Replace or repair windows.
Windows are one of the main areas where your “bought air” is escaping. Stop the madness, people. We’ve replaced windows in both of our houses ourselves and the impact to our heating bill is tremendous. The new windows look awesome, open and close easily, and keep “bought” air in and outside air out. Just as it’s meant to be. Not to mention the fact that we no longer have to deal with those pesky drafts that are so common in old houses.
In rental properties, we have repaired glass and storm windows, which does help make them more efficient. (Our local hardware store fixes windows and storm windows very inexpensively. It’s a simple way to get your windows up to snuff without having to replace.)
6. Seal windows and doors.
Speaking of windows … we have a case of caulk in our garage at all times and we know how to use it. Windows, doors and trim often need some caulk to make them weather tight.
Another simple tip – make sure that your door seals are always tight. Sometimes, our naughty dogs tear them up and they actually need replaced. New seals are cheap and easy to replace. And don’t forget to caulk. 🙂
7. Switch traditional bulbs to CFLs or LEDs.
Not only are CFLs more efficient, you also have to replace them less often. And we’ve found the newest versions have similar quality and temperature of light as traditional bulbs.
8. Consider low flow showerheads and efficient toilets.
Bathroom fixtures may not be sexy, but they are great ways to make your home smarter. It’s so simple to replace your showerheads with low flow versions. These regulate the flow of water, assuring you a more efficient shower and less water waste.
Toilets are also worth an upgrade. The newer models are more efficient and waste less water. New toilets also seem to flush better and have other bells and whistles. (Can toilets have bells and whistles? Yes.)
These are a few things we’ve found to be worthwhile to make our home smarter and save money when renovating. For us, it’s been relatively easy being green. And we love the extra green in our pockets, too.
What are your best tips for a smarter, greener home?
Direct Energy sponsored this post. With the Direct Energy Meridian Savings Plan, you get a competitively priced fixed energy charge, up to three Honeywell Smart Thermostats at no additional cost, plus a smartphone app that allows you to control your thermostat anytime, anywhere. Learn more about the Direct Energy Meridian Savings Plan and find more tips for a smart home.