In an effort to be more environmentally-friendly, more homeowners are going green. But in some cases, they’re reducing their home’s energy use to the extreme. The ultimate goal for these homeowners is “net-zero” – the point at which their home is using no more energy than it's creating. While it may seem that this can only be achieved with new homes that were specifically built that way, you can actually make some changes to your existing home and go net-zero yourself. Here are our top 4 tips to get you started:
1. Install solar panels
Like all environmentally-friendly upgrades, solar panels will cost you a pretty penny, but they'll make their money back over time. Solar panels can be installed to the roof of your home, and convert the sun's rays into electricity and heated water. They can significantly reduce your power bill, and more consumers are choosing to go this route, especially in Florida. According to a recent article in the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Electric reported 310 solar customers in 2012, up from just four in 2006. The article also states that Progress Energy has more than 200 solar customers in the 35 counties that they serve. So, while there aren't a lot of people using this technology yet, it's definitely gaining popularity – and it’s a great step towards being net-zero!
2. Keep the heat where it's supposed to be
While solar panels on the roof are designed to trap the sun's heat and use it as energy, solar window films do the opposite. They block the sun's heat from entering your home through the windows. By installing these – along with having an energy-efficient air-conditioning unit – you can cut down on your power bill in the summer months. Then in the winter, if you've added additional attic insulation, heat inside your home will be less likely to leak out, meaning you won't have to run your furnace as often. These installations are not only eco-friendly, but they can save you a lot of money in the long run.
3. Update the kitchen
A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders found that a renovated, state-of-the-art kitchen was the number one desired upgrade among American homeowners. You can upgrade your kitchen, and make it eco-friendly all at the same time. How? First, buy Energy Star appliances. In order to carry the Energy Star seal, appliances must meet certain electricity usage guidelines. And since they come in many styles, just because you're going green, doesn't mean you have to skimp on aesthetics. Also, remove any carpet in the home, especially in the kitchen, since it has been known for releasing carbon emissions. Try replacing it with tile or bamboo flooring. That way, you're eco-friendly and fashionable at the same time!
4. Replace your toilets
One way to reduce the amount of water used in your home, and consequently, save on your water bill is to install “green” toilets. These eco-friendly toilets give the option of a full flush or half flush, and installing one in your home can save hundreds of gallons of water each year.
Some final thoughts:
While all of these upgrades are environmentally-friendly, they aren't so kind to your wallet. Going green is going to cost you some “green”, but in the end, you'll save a bunch of money, and feel good about doing so.
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