You’ve bought your eco-friendly light bulbs and figured out how to recycle batteries. But your utility bills haven’t gone down as much as you expected. Is there anything else you can do on a budget? Turns out you can retrofit your home to help our planet and save more money.
Retrofit. That sounds expensive, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be. There are steps you can take to make your house environmentally friendly, save money and make yourself more comfortable at the same time.
Mind the Gaps
When I was growing up, I had 6 big windows across one wall of my room. There were little gaps in them, so my room would freeze in the winter and be scorching hot in the summer. Even in northern Texas, that was too much. I actually asked for insulation for Christmas my junior year of high school and got it.
If your doors or windows aren’t air-tight, then your thermostat has to work harder to keep the temperature steady. That’s not just uncomfortable. That’s money leaking out of your home and out of your wallet. There are DIY options that can save you 5-10% of your heating costs each year. If you can afford caulk, you can go a long way for maybe $40.
You can go a step further and hire an energy auditor. Energy auditors will find every air leak in your home and plug it. That can reduce your energy costs and your home’s environmental impact even further. In fact, this could be a good step to take if you’re planning a bigger remodeling project anyway. The Department of Energy can connect you with local energy auditors or you can look for them in your area. Check with your utilities department to see whether they offer energy audits for free. Otherwise you can hire one for $200-600. That may or may not be “low budget” for you, but the savings would justify the expense over time.
The Other Black Hole of Cash: Water
If you decide to retrofit your home, then water-usage is another major hot spot for energy use. Almost half of the water used in your home is used in your bathroom. The toilets and showers are the two biggest drains on water (pun intended.)
You can change your shower head to a low flow shower head that saves water and money. You can order a pack of two 1.5 gallon per minute shower heads for $12.98 from many hardware stores. Just for some perspective, an average shower head uses about 2.1 gallons per minute. That’s 24 gallons of water in 40 minutes.
Your toilet could also use less water. There are water bags that cost less than a dollar, but they’re temporary, so you’d have to keep buying them to cut water. It’s cheap, but it’s kind of a pain. You may be better off just buying a WaterSense toilet. They run about $160-$200. Even if your toilet already flushes at an efficient 1.6 gallons per flush, the WaterSense toilet can cut 20% of your water usage per flush. The more people you have in your home using it, the more water – and money – you’ll save over time.
You Can Retrofit your Home Without Much Effort
But what if you live in an apartment with a radiator? You don’t have the authority to call someone to dig through the inside of the walls looking for air leaks. The good news? You probably have control over what you do with that radiator.
Radiator Labs has a product called the Cozy that can cut up to 35% off of your heating costs from a radiator. The Cozy covers your radiator and lets you control the heat settings from your phone. When you decide what temperature you want, the Cozy regulates the temperature in your apartment so that you stay comfortable. This stability keeps you comfy, reduces the fuel needed to power the radiator, and puts money back in your pocket. Who says being green has to be expensive?
OHM Connect is a wall attachment that actually pays you to save power. You can set a time when you’d like to turn some power off or reduce your usage, and you’ll earn passive income while you help the planet. If you don’t want to do a full remodel or if you feel like you’ve done everything to retrofit your home, this could be another option for you to go that step further.
Turning your House into a Home
Making your house into a zero-energy wonderland isn’t just about saving money (although that can be a BIG perk.) It’s about being a good steward of the environment. The house you call a home is part of a much bigger home: our planet. When you choose to green retrofit your home, then you make our planetary home that much better.