Last Updated on October 28, 2020
Making your home more energy and water efficient is one of the best ways you can 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.
2020 has me dreaming of a little house to call my own. Oh the sustainable things I would create, install, and invest in if I had a little slice of land that was completely and utterly mine.
Justin and I rent so if you’re renting or 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.
This post was sponsored by Sunrun. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
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 your home more eco-friendly, 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?
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, 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 back up.
Having a battery installed is an easy and convenient way to make sure you have a continuous power supply 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 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.
dual paned windows:
Most of the places I’ve lived in California have had vintage, single-paned windows. While they’ve all been pretty, 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.
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: 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 what they were turned into!
Icynene insulation: this is a spray foam made out of castor oil that expands 100x it’s size. It’s one of the strongest home insulation alternatives dropping your energy bills by 30 to 50 percent. Plus, it also cancels noise.
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 homes electric bill!
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:
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. Install is way easier too because there’s 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 because 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 huge!
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, new-construction, 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.
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?
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!
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.
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!