Making green home upgrades might seem like a daunting task. How can you realistically turn your house into a more eco-friendly environment without spending a lot of money? Will you have to turn to a professional to ensure your green home upgrades come to fruition? Is it essential that you spend a lot of your hard-earned income? And what are the best sustainable ways to make your home more eco-friendly?
In fact, you might not have to invest as much or turn everything over to professionals to get some green home upgrades and boosts. Many green home upgrades are quite doable by yourself. Or, you might be able to start on an upgrade and then pay an expert to finish a piece of it. Either way, you can save a few dollars while still helping the environment.
Below are 20 ways to improve the greenness of your property, both indoors and outside. Even if you only engage in one of these green home upgrades, you’ll be closer to your dream of living in more harmony with the natural world.
1. Take Recycling Seriously
One of the first green home upgrades you’ll want to make is to think twice before tossing anything in the trash. Ideally, you’ll want to minimize the amount of garbage you throw out. Start by replacing many of your paper products, like paper towels, with cloth versions. Cloth napkins feel better on the skin, anyway. And cloth towels wipe up dirt on countertops just as well as their paper countertops. Get creative and see how little you can send to the landfill each month. (As a side hint, this is a fun way to get kids interested in being super recyclers.)
2. Make Any Necessary Home Repairs
Did you realize that by keeping your house in tiptop shape that you’re doing something better for the planet? A broken-down home can end up costing a lot of money and maybe end up being razed in the future. Staying on top of maintenance and repairs ensures you don’t waste electricity or lose water to a leak. If you need massive repairs that are beyond the scope of what you can realistically manage solo, consider calling a general contractor for advice. The contractor will help you understand your options so you can make wise choices.
3. Buy From Brands That Align With Your Environmental Beliefs
Another way to make green home upgrades is to always buy products for your home that are manufactured by brands you can believe in. This could mean switching to organic coffee or only purchasing clothing from fair trade manufacturers. Most companies talk about their environmental views on their websites. Check into each business that you patronize regularly. If they don’t seem to fit your vision of what green should be, look at some of their competitors. Choosing with your wallet can make a difference.
4. Go For a Tankless Water Heater
What type of water heater system do you have? If you have a water tank that heats up your water in one large container, you might be wasting energy. For instance, all that water just sits in the tank, waiting to be used. But don’t worry: You don’t have to forgo hot showers. Just go for a tankless water heater. You’ll get heated water on demand, rather than continuously heating a large amount of water that you don’t need right away.
5. Reuse Everything You Can
Before you toss out curtains, an old sofa, or even a chipped glass, ask yourself if you could repurpose the item. Many things we commonly throw out could be reused if we just relied upon our imagination. Even broken glass can be turned into a beautiful wind chime or another piece of individualistic artwork for the garden. And those old sheets? They might make terrific rags to use in lieu of the paper products you’ve vowed never to touch again.
6. Get Water From a Well
Would you like to get off of your municipal water supply? One way could be to get your water from a personal well. To be sure, not every property has the right make-up to have well water. Therefore, you’ll have to see if it’s a possibility in your case. If so, you could get water from your well, and then run it through a water filtration system to make sure it’s not filled with chemicals or toxins that have leached into the soil. Being on a well may make you feel freer and more like you’re doing something beneficial every time you turn on the tap.
7. Use Your Windows
When it’s temperate outside, turn off your furnace or air conditioner. Why? You’ll give the units a break. You’ll also be able to open the windows and enjoy the natural breezes. This is one upgrade to your home you’ll appreciate!
8. Clean Your HVAC System
Who wants to live in an environment that smells dusty or makes you sick? Keeping your HVAC system clean by getting air ducts cleaning ensures that you’re not going to breathe in allergens all day long. Plus, a cleaned HVAC system will run more efficiently. The more efficiently it heats or cools, the less you’ll need to rely on your utility providers. Also, you won’t have to replace your HVAC unit as soon as you would if you ran it into the ground by not getting it checked or fixed regularly.
9. Add Plants to Your Rooms
Another way to get cleaner air is to add some plants to every room. Hanging plants and potted plants make lovely additions to any space. You can also put plants in very large pots on the floor. One thing you’ll notice right away is that your space feels a lot fresher and more natural. To be sure, this is one of those green home upgrades that can completely update the look and function of any area of your house. Additionally, your pocketbook will appreciate that most plants are quite reasonably priced. (Bonus points if you grow them from a two-dollar seed packet.)
10. Get Your Roof Inspected and Repaired
Most roofs last no more than 30 years. Is yours nearing its end of life? Rather than waiting until the shingles literally begin to peel away from the framework of the roof, call a roofer. The roofer can inspect every square inch of the roof and make repair or replacement recommendations. In the event that your roofing professional suggests a complete replacement, remember your desire to make green home upgrades. Some shingles are made from eco-friendlier sources than others. Consider this when choosing what type of roof you want to have for the next three decades of your homeowner life.
11. Consider Adding Solar Panels to Your New Roof
Did you just buy a new roof? Before the roofers install it, get in touch with a solar energy company in your area. You may be able to have solar panels installed on top of certain types of roofing material. Solar panels aren’t going to enable you to completely remove yourself from the grid, at least in most cases. Nevertheless, they may be able to allow you to depend less on the electric company. Eventually, you may even be able to get credits from the electric company if you can send them your extra energy from the solar array on your rooftop.
12. Don’t Replace Things Unnecessarily
We live in a throwaway society. When something gets unattractive, our first inclination is often to get rid of it. Always ask yourself if something just needs a little TLC to be revived. Take old, discolored walkways or algae-stained siding. With some residential pressure washing, you might be able to avoid replacing these items.
The same holds true with real hardwood flooring that just needs a bit of attention from a professional floor polishing company. Of course, you may want to buy something new once in a while. Just make sure you’ve thought out why you want something new, and why the old thing it’s replacing isn’t worth sprucing up.
13. Zone Your Home’s Heating and Cooling
In terms of green home upgrades, this is a no-brainer: Zone your rooms or sections of your house. Zoning is a process that allows you to control the temperature of a given zone or space. As an example, you may choose to zone your first and second floors.
That way, when everyone’s hanging out on the first floor in the winter, you can reduce the heat on the second floor. When everyone goes upstairs to bed, you can simply bump up the heat. Zoning really saves a ton of money for homeowners. It looks good when you’re ready to put your home on the market for resale, too.
14. Make Sure You Choose Eco-Friendly Services
Products can be eco-friendly, it’s true. Yet so can services. This includes everything from landscaping services to cleaning services. Whenever you’re about to hire someone to do any kind of service for you or your family, ask yourself if the service is green enough for your tastes.
You might be surprised at how often service providers use products or procedures you find unappealing or anti-environmental. Knowing up front will stop you from making a mistake and not living up to your desire to make more conscientious green home upgrades.
15. Add a Compost Bin to the Backyard
Composting is a low-cost way for you to have rich, wonderful soil for your flower and produce gardens year after year. After purchasing a sizable composting bin and finding out how to aerate the compost effectively, you can start tossing organic scraps into the bin.
You may also want to add some live worms for good measure. The worms will help turn the trash into rich-smelling compost that will make your plants and veggies grow like nobody’s business!
16. Go For a Dishwasher Over Handwashing
Believe it or not, you don’t have to do your dishes by hand if you’re trying to make as many green home upgrades as you can. In fact, dishwashers can be both economical and environmentally safe, so putting a dishwasher installation on your calendar doesn’t mean you have to hand in your “green living” card!
Plenty of them is deemed energy efficient because they use very little water in comparison to what you might use to clean the same amount of dishes. If you’re still concerned that you might be using too much energy when you run a load, turn off the heat dry. When the load is done, just open the dishwasher door to let everything air dry.
17. Make Meals at Home
Instead of ordering favorite foods through drive-through windows, start learning how to cook everything yourself. You’ll be among the 98% of people living in the United States who prefer to make their own meals. Besides, it’s not that tough to learn a little culinary magic.
The Food Network chefs might make it seem impossible to whip up recipes, but you can probably learn how to master many more foods than you might imagine. And you’ll save tons on buying food from restaurants and fast-food joints, as well as never have to throw away food containers that can’t be recycled.
18. Check Window and Door Seals
Could it be time for new windows as part of your green home upgrades? Maybe, if your windows are leaky. You can figure out quickly if a window is drafty by holding a lit candle (carefully!) next to all the seals on a windy day.
If the candle flame starts to flicker, you know you’re probably dealing with a draft. And it’s hard to fix a whole house of drafty windows. It’s just better to replace them and try to see if you can recycle all or some of the old ones.
19. Unplug Your Devices
Though the amount of electricity used by plugged-in devices isn’t extraordinary, it adds up. Think about all the devices and appliances that you leave plugged in all day. TVs. Lamps. Phone chargers. Coffee makers. Stereos. They’re all using a bit of electricity, even if they’re not turned on.
Therefore, unplug them regularly. You might even want to do a test to see how much of a difference unplugging everything makes on your monthly utility bills. Even a few bucks saved can be a few dollars more to store away for a rainy day!
20. Replace Fluorescent Bulbs With LED
Do you know what types of lighting you’re using throughout your house? In general, replacing all your fluorescent bulbs with LED versions will be more eco-friendly. However, you may also want to have new lights put in by a trusted electrician. Choose lights that will last and last, rather than wind up blowing out every few months.
Excited to get started on your green home upgrades? Take them one day at a time. Before long, you’ll notice that your home life is taking on a green sheen!
Alex Grogoyan is a Professional Home Improvement and Lifestyle Writer. He has been in the industry for over 6 years and has been writing for Chique Home Living since 2019. His work has been featured in popular platforms such as Spruce Home, Better Homes & Garden, and more.