Sustainability is the big buzzword of 2021, and rightfully so, as climate anxiety continues to grow among all generations. With the Covid-19 pandemic increasing the amount of time that people are spending in their homes, a lot of this anxiety has turned into identifying ways to make homes more sustainable. Adopting even a few sustainable home upgrades can help maximize your home’s efficiency in a way that is respectful of the resources in your environment.
There are a variety of sectors in your home that you can make more sustainable, both big and small, from starting a composting bin to undergoing a major home improvement project. It's important to know the most sustainable thing we can all do is to use what we already have available to us. This could include avoiding throwing items out before the end of their lifespans and trying to reuse supplies whenever possible. The principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle never grow old. However, if the time has come for a home improvement project, we have some ideas that can make your home more sustainable in the process.
Consider Solar Power
Solar power has been an incredibly popular home addition lately. It is a great way to continue energy usage by using a sustainable method of consumption that doesn’t use fossil fuels. Some states are even beginning to mandate that new buildings or expansions be built to include solar capability, starting with California in 2020, as all they look to meet their Renewable Energy Portfolio goals. As the United States looks to reduce its carbon emissions, more states will follow suit, so if you are looking to reevaluate your energy consumption, getting ahead of the regulations could be in your best interest. Now is also a good time to consider solar because the Solar Investment Tax Credit has been extended through 2024, making it a cost-efficient time to take advantage of a carbon-neutral energy source.
If installing solar panels doesn’t seem like a good fit for your home, another option could be asking your energy provider if they offer a renewable energy option. In the long-run, this could be more expensive than installing panels, but it is a good choice if you are looking to switch but need to cover the interim.
Select High Energy-Efficient Appliances
Many people might not be aware, but the appliances are some of the biggest energy consumers in the home. Some of these high-energy appliances include refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves or ovens, air conditioners, dryers, water heaters, and electric car chargers. For this reason, once your major appliance has passed its warranty or is beyond repair, you should consider appliances with high energy efficiency ratings or reduced water capabilities.
If your appliances aren’t at the end of their lifespan yet, you might consider lightbulb swaps or trying to reduce your use of these energy-guzzling appliances.
Update Your Windows
Windows account for up to 50% of energy lost, mostly due to the technologies on older windows. Some newer window models include airtight construction, special coatings, and even nonconductive framing materials specifically designed to reduce your energy usage in the home. New windows could be the perfect way to reduce your home's energy consumption and, in turn, reduce your energy bills.
If you don’t feel like new windows are a good option for your home, you can alternatively consider thermal or blackout curtains that maintain the heat better than regular curtains, which would reduce your heat loss through windows.
While making these changes are important for the well-being of the climate, and possibly reducing your anxiety, that doesn’t mean that these changes will necessarily be easy. Some of these home improvement projects could have a serious impact on your wallet if you aren’t prepared. To plan, consider leveraging the equity in your home, which could be tax deductible when used to make home improvements. Other options could include tapping into a rainy day fund if that is available to you, or you can see if any of your contracting partners offer a payment plan instead of mandating payments upfront. Regardless of how big or small, the planet will thank you for making your home more sustainable.
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