Before stating going green is too expensive, one must fully understand what it means to go green.
If one’s idea of going green is the installation of solar panels, then the costs may be expensive.
But, if we agree going green means lessening environmental impact and improving the health of a building, then there are dozens of items that may be implemented that do not cost a lot of money.
The environmental impact areas include water, energy, indoor air quality, material selection, and waste and recycling.
My Top 10 list of practical and low budget green home improvements are:
- Test ducts for tightness, and sealing of leaks.
- Professional HVAC service, and install of programmable thermostat
- Caulking of and leaks in the building envelope, including windows and doors
- The use of a recycle bin in the kitchen.
- Replacement of incandescent lighting with cfl’s
- The use of household cleaners that do not contain toxic chemicals. Homemade cleaners are best, using items such as vinegar, baking soda, and tea tree oil. And, the elimination of all chemical air fresheners.
- The use of shading via plants or screens on walls or windows with high sun exposure.
- The installation of daylighting in dark areas of your home to reduce the need for lights and to improve mental health
- Upgrade insulation to a higher R value
- Installation of highly reflective window film
When replacing items, it is important to dispose of the old items either by recycling or through the most environmentally friendly fashion.
If one wants to implement further green improvements and budget is less of a concern, then the following are some suggestions.
My Top 10 list of open budget items:
- Foam insulation in the lid of the roof
- New windows
- New HVAC (always windows before HVAC, and Manual J required before determining size of unit)
- Solar Hot water heater (current incentives and rebates results in a $1500 net cost to homeowner)
- Front loading clothes washer, will reduce water usage by more than 60% compared to a top loading washers)
- Native landscaping along with an irrigation system, and turf reduction
- Consideration of low environmental impact materials when selecting new cabinets, flooring, countertops, or paint.
- A rain capture system, and consideration to low flush toilets and Water Sense labeled fixtures
- A Photovoltaic system once doing all the above building envelope improvements, which will reduce the size of the PV system needed
- Get your project LEED or NAHB certified.
If your project is going to be green, it must address water, energy, air quality, design, and location. Before making choices, ask what impact they are having on the environment. Ultimately, reducing your home’s environmental impact does not have to cost a lot of money.