Sustainable, greener living has become more central to our daily activities as people become more concerned about the environment. What you may not realize is that measures you take to help the planet can help your bank account thrive too.
Let’s look at what is likely your biggest investment: your home. Greening your home through minor or major improvements is not only good for the environment, but it can save you money through more efficient energy consumption. The amount of money you can save over time with green home improvements varies considerably depending on where you live and the type of changes you make. From reducing energy bills to stress levels, these simple measures can be great for the planet, your pocketbook, and your own well-being.
However, not every home greening project has to be expensive or extensive. Here are some home improvement ideas that don’t require a major renovation.
Sealing windows, doors and other leaks
Improperly sealed windows and doors can account for up to 25% of the total heat loss of a home.1 Window, door, and frame replacements are an option, but even small steps can make a difference. Simply fixing air leaks with weather-stripping products or caulking can result in a 5%-10% reduction in your energy bill.2 And don’t forget less obvious sources of air leakage, like seams or cracks between lighting fixtures and walls.
Wrapping your water heater
If you live in a home with an accessible water heater, you can cut down on your water heating costs by wrapping it in an insulating blanket or jacket. A $50-$60 investment can result in energy savings of up to 20%.3 Such products are readily available through your preferred home improvement retailer.
Planting trees and shrubs can improve your home’s exterior appearance while also contributing to the look and environmental quality of your neighbourhood. In addition, where you plant your trees and shrubs can also have an impact on energy costs and consumption. Partially shading your roof and windows from direct sunlight can help decrease your cooling costs. The south and west sides of a house are often the optimal places to plant trees for that purpose, with August-October usually being the optimal time for planting. Shading an air-conditioning unit can also cut energy costs. And inside your home, indoor plants can do more than just serve as decoration. They can help purify the air by reducing carbon dioxide levels, absorbing unwelcome chemicals and regulating indoor humidity, and can also help create a lower-stress environment.4
Getting “smarter” about your thermostat and appliances
Smart thermostats can automatically adjust your home’s temperature by learning from your behaviour patterns and, in some cases, weather conditions and the characteristics of your home itself. How much you could save with a smart thermostat again differs considerably depending on where you live and your current level of energy consumption. Various studies in Canada and the United States suggest savings ranging from 5%-25% of home heating costs.5 As for major appliances, these can account for 15% of a home’s energy consumption.6 If you’re already in the market for a new washer, dryer or refrigerator, consider looking at Energy Star-rated products to cut down on this major energy expense.
Regardless of what measures you take to green your home, you don’t have to do it alone. There are many incentive programs across Canada that can help you make your home more environmentally efficient. Natural Resources Canada keeps a searchable database of programs to help you get started.
Call our office for additional information on the benefits of greening your home, as well as for some fresh ideas for growing your savings.
Natural Resources Canada, “Chapter 8: Upgrading windows and doors,” Keeping the Heat In, 2017.
Laura Isaacson, “Weather-stripping: Stop losing money by sealing windows and leaks,” The Eco Guide, June 15, 2017.
10 Ways to Green Your Home and Save Money, isure, 2017; “Easy Ways to Live Greener,” Good Housekeeping, January 15, 2015.
“The Perks of Being a Plant Lover,” healthline, October 25, 2016.
Nicole Bogart, “Can smart thermostats really help save money on your energy bill?”, Globalnews.ca, May 1, 2016.
7 Green Upgrades That Will Reduce Your Home’s Footprint, www.hgtv.ca, 2015.