Seven billion people on the planet take quite a toll on our environment using our world’s resources to sustain life. Energy, water, food and power are in high demand, but if everyone made the effort to reduce their consumption, the environment's health could significantly improve. Though some small changes at home may come with an initial investment, they can save you money in the long-run and leave the environment in much better shape for future generations. Plan for what you can do within your means. The changes may seem small but can have a rippling effect on the resources in our country.
Swap your Light Bulbs
Lighting accounts for about 12%1 of your home’s energy bill, but swapping your conventional lightbulbs with energy-efficient bulbs can reduce your bill by 86%. The typical halogen lightbulb costs about $13.35 per fixture; LED bulbs cost $1.87 per fixture. LED bulbs may cost more upfront at the store, but the energy savings greatly outweigh the cost. LED bulbs last for about 45,000 hours whereas halogen bulbs last 3,000 hours.
Automate your Heating and Cooling
In addition to lighting, heating and cooling account for 46% of your electric bill. You can reduce that by almost 15% by automating your thermostat if it’s programmable. When you leave the house for work, errands or a day out, set the thermostat back about 5 degrees to reduce the carbon footprint and save money on your utility bills.
Insulate your Home
A home inspection, either before or after purchasing a home, can uncover roof leaks, reveal structural or electrical damage and evaluates how well your home is insulated. Audits cost about $200-400, but the report can determine where insulation can be improved to save you money on your heating and cooling. Spray foam will do the trick in places with little-to-no insulation – it’s easy and affordable.
Invest in Energy-Efficient Appliances
Do you have appliances greater than 15 years old? It may be time to replace them with Energy Star certified appliances. New appliances use about 60-80% less energy than your decade-old appliances.
Grow a Garden
You don’t need to landscape your entire yard to have a garden. Growing small vegetables, fruits or herbs in flower pots inside your home is all you need to reduce your carbon footprint and provide a little extra food without spending any money. Planting and maintaining an outdoor garden provides access to healthy, fresh food and can be a fun hobby with your family.
Stop Water Runoff
Gardens are a great way to stop water runoff from storms, which help keep rivers and streams clean. Rain barrels can also help collect rain water when placed at the end of your home’s downspout. When it’s time to water the lawn or garden, connect the barrel to a hose. This cuts down on your water bill and keeps ecosystems healthy. Before making this change, check with your local government and see if there are any programs in support of rain barrels.
Invest in Solar Energy
While this is the largest time and monetary investment out of all of the above, investing in solar energy cuts your electric bill to next to nothing. Look into programs or government subsidies to help offset costs associated with solar-panel installation. Some companies are willing to enter into purchase agreements with homeowners interesting in solar-panel installation.
Making these small and large changes will have an enormous butterfly effect on your community, country and the planet. If you’re interested in learning more about sustainable living, follow vLoan on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see our tips this month on saving money and energy at home. Are you interested in purchasing an energy-efficient home or refinancing to afford these sustainable investments? Contact one of our mortgage advisors at 1-844-77-vLoan or get a free rate quote to explore your mortgage options.