Are you one of the many homeowners who want to go greener, but aren’t sure where to start? Perhaps you think solutions like solar are beyond your price point.
However, you can up your sustainability quotient less expensively than you probably think. Once you make the switch, the cash you save on monthly bills can fund future efforts. Here are five tips for saving money on your green home improvements.
1. Investigate Assistance Programs
The IRS still offers significant tax credits for switching to solar or making other energy-saving improvements. You might have the money, but are still unwilling to spend it given the current uncertainty. However, this incentive might inspire you to move forward, secure in the knowledge you can replenish your savings with your rebate.
Another way to save money now is to leverage your credit by applying for an energy-saving loan program. You can qualify for heat loans up to $25,000 and solar as high as $35,000. Run the numbers — you might save enough on monthly fuel costs to make up for the interest, which comes in at competitive rates.
2. Use Your DIY Expertise
You can also go green and still save money on labor costs by doing projects yourself. Thanks to the internet, you can find tons of videos that show you how to do anything from caulk a window to install solar panels.
Before you take on something massive like installing a skylight, tackle a less intimidating project. One thing nearly every homeowner can do is to trade in your incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent or LED models. The latter types use 25 to 80% less energy and last anywhere from three to 25 times longer.
Another chore most folks can readily manage is applying weatherstripping and caulk. If you feel a draft near doors or windows, your home is bleeding energy. A single trip to the hardware store for supplies that cost less than $20 fixes the problem.
3. Consider Your Return on Investment
When you need to save money on your green home improvements, first, get out your trusty calculator. Then, make a list of the jobs you hope to tackle. Hop online and do some research to determine the average return on investment for each project.
That way, you have the information you need — you not only know which projects are most expensive, but which will also save the most cash over time. You can then decide where to allot your available funds best to maximize your returns.
4. Repurpose Materials Where You Can
Part of going green means taking advantage of recycled and repurposed materials whenever possible. Fortunately, this approach can also save you a bundle on your home improvement projects.
Take wooden pallets, for example. You can pick these up for free at many hardware retailers. If you plan to build a do-it-yourself compost bin or a similar project, congratulations — you now have the wood you need.
Some specialty materials have a high resale value — if you don’t need them, sell them to fund your work. Examples include items like plumbing and electrical fixtures, unique doors and architectural moldings.
5. Take Advantage of Passive Features
Sometimes, you don’t have to do much work at all to complete a green home improvement project. For example, if your home came with heavy curtains, replacing them with sheer models can help you take advantage of passive solar heat. You can also give yourself a better view and more light with one-way window film — as a bonus, it protects furnishings from UV rays.
Do you have foliage blocking your front view? Try keeping bushes and hedges trimmed to three feet or less to deter thieves. The extra sunshine you get can also keep your home toasty in winter for free.
Save Money Twice With These Green Home Improvement Tips
Now that you know how to save money on your green home improvements, you can double-dip on the cash advantages. Keep more green in your wallet while starting your project and reap the rest via lower utility costs over the years.
Written by Evelyn Long
About the Author
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, where she publishes home improvement and green building advice for builders and homeowners alike.
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