Last Updated on April 17, 2023
Making a sustainable home is done by adding a lot of little changes together to create a large impact! Sustainable homes are energy and water efficient and have a positive impact on the environment. So, I wanted to round up a few ways you can make your home more sustainable and eco-friendly.
These are 10 great tips if you’re wondering how to make your home more sustainable! Home ownership doesn’t have to be a drag on the environment if you follow these tips for a sustainable house through water and energy conservation. From habit adjustments to solar power, there are projects big and small for an eco friendly home. Read on to create a sustainable home of your own.
This post was sponsored by Sunrun. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
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a sustainable home
If you’re renting or living in an apartment, be sure to check out my blog post 8 tips for eco-friendly apartment living where I address a few of these topics in a renter-friendly way.
I’ve honestly had a lot of fun dreaming up my perfect sustainable dream home.
There are so many things you can do to make an eco friendly home, and I definitely hope a lot of these suggestions become standard features on all homes for sale in the near future. Wouldn’t it be cool if most homes were self-sufficient, sustainable homes?
how to make your home more sustainable
Energy efficiency was still fairly new even just a decade ago. Especially if you live in an older home, you’re likely using a ton of energy just to keep your home at a livable temperature. Your energy is lost through poorly insulated walls, thin single-paned windows, and water systems that waste more than they use.
In today’s climate, much more emphasis is being put on energy efficiency — meaning modern upgrades like fresh windows and solar panels not only save you money but also save all that lost energy. Because of this, most of my 10 options include updating your existing features to be more modern and energy efficient.
sustainble homes powered by renewables:
It’s no secret that switching to solar is a great way to reduce your dependency on fossil fuels and save money over a long period of time.
Switching to solar energy can save homeowners over $100 a month, which is more than $35,000 over 20 years.
If you aren’t able to afford solar panel installation upfront, leasing might be a great option for you. Sunrun offers leasing and monthly loans, and of course, you can purchase them outright to take advantage of the 30% tax credits still available.
Solar panels have become more efficient, last longer, and are more repairable thanks to modern technology, so don’t be surprised if your solar panels last 25+ years.
Having lived through California’s blackouts two years in a row, I would love to have steady power from one of the most reliable things in the galaxy — the sun.
Every morning, she’s ready to light the day, and when night rolls around, a battery can provide 8-12 hours of power backup.
consider batteries for a sustainable house
Having a battery installed is an easy and convenient way to make sure you have continuous power and remain a sustainable house. A solar battery will supply power whether it’s nighttime or you’re experiencing a power outage.
Solar batteries are also far more efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly than generators!
Batteries run on renewable power, which makes them safer than generators that emit dangerous fumes like carbon monoxide.
Generators can be pretty inconvenient since they require homeowners to keep cans of gasoline handy for refueling. They’re also noisy and can be a messy hassle as you have to run extension cords to power appliances within the home.
You never have to worry about any of that with a battery. It makes as much noise as a refrigerator, and they have up to a 25 year warranty!
Sunrun offers solar battery installation along with solar panels for little to no money down, and you can still get those solar tax credits until 2021.
Sunrun operates in most states, so grab a free quote to see if you can free your energy bill from non-renewable, fossil fuels.
double paned windows save energy and money
Most of the places I’ve lived in California have had vintage, single-paned windows. While they’ve all been pretty to look at, I’ve got one word — brrrrrr.
Even though winters don’t dip below 30 very often, our heating is expensive and inefficient.
We’ve had gas heating everywhere we live. Couple that with single-paned windows, and our gas bill in the winter cost almost $10 a day!
The apartment we just moved into has double-paned windows. I’m super excited because they’re said to reduce energy usage by as much as 24% during the winter and up to 18% in warm climates in the summer!
I hope this means we can actually use our central heating this year and not pay an astronomical rate for it! So, if you’re building a home or needing an eco-friendly upgrade, I’d definitely recommend double-paned windows.
insulate for an eco friendly home
Insulation, or lack-there-of, is a huge contributor to a home’s efficiency. According to the EPA, homeowners can save 15% on heating and cooling costs by simply air sealing their homes and adding insulation in their attics and floors over crawl spaces.
Here are a few eco-friendly insulation options for you to consider.
- cellulose insulation: This is considered one of the most environmentally friendly insulation materials. It’s made of 80 to 85% recycled newsprint.
- denim insulation: If you’ve ever dropped any jeans off to be recycled, this is likely what they were turned into!
- Icynene insulation: This is a spray foam made out of castor oil that expands 100x its size. It’s one of the strongest home insulation alternatives, dropping your energy bills by 30 to 50 percent. Plus, it’s also noise-cancelling.
- therma cork: Is made from the outer bark of oak trees and has a negative carbon footprint. It’s renewable, biodegradable, free of toxins, and it cancels noise!
opt for energy star appliances
If you need a new appliance, definitely check for the Energy Star logo.
Energy Star appliances are certified by the U.S. Department of Energy and use anywhere from 10 to 50 percent less energy than a non-energy efficient equivalent.
This becomes expressly clear when it comes to fridges, which can account for 20% of a home’s electric bill! An energy-efficient fridge is a great place to start when wondering how to make your home more sustainable.
I’m not one to recommend upgrading all willy nilly, but it can save you a lot of money and power in the long run. For more information be sure to check out my post How to Save Money on Your Electric Bill in the Kitchen.
tankless hot water heater in sustainable homes
With your new fancy solar panels from SunRun, when it’s time to get a new hot water heater — why not get an electric, tankless one?
You can get a high-quality electric water heater for as little as $500. Installation is way easier too because there are no other requirements than a sufficient power source in your home.
If you live in a small space, a tankless electric water heater is perfect — they’re a third of the size of a gas heater.
I would love to eventually put one in our tiny home. The detached hot water heater shed could become an actual shed providing more valuable space. Which, in a tiny home, is priceless!
One of the only cons is that you won’t have hot water in a power outage… but you won’t be worried about that since you’ll have a solar battery!
go low flow
Whether you’re remodeling, eyeing new-construction homes, or just looking to upgrade some existing fixtures, switching to low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets is a great way to save water and money.
By switching to low-flow toilets, a family of four can save up to 13,000 gallons of water a year. That’s a larger change, but a smaller change that you can make right now is adding aerators to your faucet and switching out your shower heads.
According to Energy Star, switching to a 2.5-gallon-per-minute (low-flow) shower head and taking a 10-minute shower will save up to $145 each year in electricity.
And, just so we’re clear, going low-flow does NOT mean poor performance or low-pressure.
Check out my full guide on saving money on your water bill in the bathroom.
install a gray water system
Speaking of water, one of my dreams is to install a grey water system. These systems can reduce household water use by 50% by saving up to 40,000 gallons of water every year.
Greywater systems filter the water that comes from your washing machine and shower so it can be reclaimed and reused.
This is also a great option if you have a septic tank because it’ll extend its lifespan.
Greywater is most commonly used for irrigation, but it can also be hooked up to flush toilets — because why on earth are we using clean, drinking water for that?
landscape wisely for an eco friendly yard
Once you’ve got your greywater system all set up to water your yard, let’s take a look at your landscape.
Did you know, according to the NRDC, lawns consume nearly 3 trillion gallons of water a year, 200 million gallons of gas (for all that mowing), and 70 million pounds of pesticides?
Instead, why not switch things up a bit? Landscape with natural and native species that don’t require so many resources.
And, a great way to make your outdoor space more eco-friendly is to grow your own food. Try planting a fruit tree or a veggie box.
In the 1940s, the US Department of Agriculture estimated more than 20 million victory gardens produced 9-10 million tons of produce, which was equal to commercial production!
Growing your own food will save you money and reduce your food’s emissions. After all, it doesn’t take much transportation to go from yard to kitchen!
compost your organic waste
You know I had to include composting. The average US household produces 650 lbs of organic trash a year, but most of that is landfilled. In fact, 60% of our landfills are full of organic matter.
You think it would break down since it’s dumped into a giant hole in the ground, but it doesn’t because landfills aren’t aerated.
It’s called anaerobic decomposition, and all of that oxygen-deprived, organic matter now releases methane into the atmosphere.
Methane is 72% more powerful than CO2, which means it’s responsible for hastening climate related issues. You can read more about greenhouse gasses in my post How to Offset Your Carbon Footprint and Why You Should.
In fact, Paul Hawken, the author of Drawdown (and one of my personal heroes) lists ending food waste as one of the top 10 ways for us to help reverse global warming.
So, make sure you’ve got a little space to start a compost bin to perfectly accompany your garden.
is making an energy efficient home expensive?
It can be, especially if you’re doing it all at once. But it doesn’t have to be! Some of the adjustments, like low flow faucets, are relatively cheap and a great place to start! Others may be expensive upfront, but save money over time, like installing solar panels. I’m never going to recommend someone go into debt in the name of going zero waste — simply do what you can, when you can, and improve as you go.
how else can i make my home more sustainable?
Habit changes! Reduce your waste, take shorter showers, only flush for #2, and adjust your thermostat by a few degrees to use less energy while heating or cooling your home. These not only save you money but will also save energy and improve your carbon footprint along the way.
I want to give a big shoutout and thank you Sunrun for sponsoring this post! If you’ve been considering getting solar for your home, definitely take advantage of it and get a free quote while the tax credits are still available!