Going green has never been more prevalent than in our modern world. Many consumers are going out of their way to purchase more eco-friendly products and services, as well as choosing environmentally conscious companies. And to go one step further, many homeowners are doing “green renovations,” meaning they are upgrading their homes to be more energy-efficient and reduce their ecological footprint.
There are many benefits to upgrading your home with more eco-friendly options, particularly the financial savings you’ll experience over the life of your home. Some other benefits include…
- Improved comfort through better temperature control
- Better health by fresh air circulation
- Reduce noise with better insulation and airtightness
- Increase durability
- Use less energy and therefore save on bills
We’re going to examine 10 ways to move your home towards zero net emissions so you can get a better idea of what would work for your own home and the feasibility of some popular options available on the market.
Solar panels are a potentially great option for homeowners looking to go green. It is both environmentally friendly and profitable as you can sell excess power back to the grid. Initial costs are slightly higher than alternatives at $12,000 to $25,000, but the long-term benefits can make up those costs and more. It has also become a very viable option in recent years due to ongoing research and development.
Solar panels are most effective on homes that are exposed to ample sun throughout the year. And while you’ll likely require an additional power source to fully power your home, you can break even within 10 to 20 years of installation.
It’s best to consult a professional to evaluate the feasibility and costs of installing solar panels on your house and research available government subsidies and grants for homeowners completing eco-friendly renovations in Canada. You can also research similar opportunities for green home improvements in the U.S. as well.
Insulation comes in many forms, such as fiberglass, polystyrene, and mineral wool, and reduces the transfer of heat in and out of your home.
This layer sits inside your walls and traps tiny pockets of air to slow the movement of heat out of your house in the winter and into your house during the summer. It can be applied by spray-in foam, loose-fill, batting rolls, and more, and choosing the right material and application depends on your unique home.
Updating insulation is a consideration owners of older homes should ponder, so if your home was built before the 1970s or 1960s you should call for a professional consultation.
Depending on the size of your home, costs will vary. A 3 bedroom home would cost between $2,500 and $4,500 based on the type of insulation, the form of application, and labour. But it is relatively inexpensive and will save you 15% in heating and cooling costs on average, in addition to keeping your home more comfortable through the seasons and making your house quieter.
Smart thermostats learn the patterns of your home over time and can be automatically scheduled for more efficient heating and cooling through technology.
Standard thermostats only save money when they are programmed correctly, which people often forget to do. A 2010 survey showed that 89% of homeowners who participated rarely or never set a weekday or weekend program.
With smart thermostats, there is no need to manually adjust the thermostat to save on heating and cooling costs. Smart thermostats will learn the patterns of your home, and reduce energy usage when the home is unoccupied, account for weather changes, and keep your home comfortable without any effort.
Upgrading to a smart thermostat for your home can save you up to 10% in energy bills, and it’s an affordable option for most homeowners looking to go green.
LED lights are highly efficient as they use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. LED lighting also decreases headaches, improves productivity, and reduces stress. LED light bulbs are both efficient and affordable, and this is the easiest way to save big on your monthly electricity bill. Switch to LEDs as soon as you can if you haven’t already.
Air-Source Heat Pumps
An air-source heat pump (ASHP) transfers heat absorbed from outside into your home. This works by using a wet central heating system to heat radiators and provide hot water. Much like a refrigerator, ASHPs absorb heat and transfer it to another form of energy. Certain ASHPs can also work as cooling systems for certain climates and homes. There are two main types of air source heat pumps:
- Air to air heat pumps, which absorb heat from the outside air and then transfer it directly into your home via a fan system
- Air to water heat pumps, which absorb heat from the outside air and then transfer it via your central heating system to provide hot water heating, radiator, and/or underfloor heating
Air source heat pumps reduce your carbon footprint, save you money on energy bills, can both heat and cool your home, are low maintenance, and have a good lifespan. The average cost to install an ASHP is between $11,000 and $26,000. Depending on your home and overall efficiency, and ASHP might be right for you. It’s best to contact a professional to evaluate your home prior to making any updates.
Heat-Pump Water Heaters
Heat pump water heaters use electricity to transfer heat from one point to another instead of generating heat directly. They can be 2 to 3 times more energy-efficient than traditional water heaters.
To move the heat, heat pumps work like a refrigerator in reverse. Heat pump water heaters can be stand-alone systems or integrated with existing water heaters in your home. Depending on the size of your home and its location, the cost and feasibility will vary. It is best to consult a professional before setting concrete plans.
Double Stud Walls
Double stud walls are an effective and affordable way to make your home more energy-efficient. This low-tech upgrade can save you significant amounts on heating and cooling costs by using familiar materials to make your home “greener.”
Double stud walls slow heat loss better than single stud walls. Certain climates require an additional vapour-retarder to prevent rot and mold, but this is a great option for homeowners looking to do more serious renovations on a budget. It provides additional insulation from both temperature changes and noise and also reduces your carbon footprint.
Sealing your drywall is both eco-friendly and elongates the life of your home. Sealers block surface pores on your drywall to better protect against temperature changes, cracks, and leaks. Sealing your drywall is both preventative of future damages and reduces your carbon footprint by allowing your home to better regulate temperature.
It can also increase your property value as sealed drywall lasts longer and performs better than alternatives. Average installation and labour costs are between $1.00 and $4.00 per square foot, and should only be done by a professional.
Weatherstripping your doors and windows is an affordable way to make your home more energy-efficient. Weatherstripping acts to seal openings in your home and help your home regulate temperature more easily. On stationery items, you can use a simple caulking tube to seal these areas. Always apply weatherstripping on clean, dry surfaces, and in temperatures above 0 degrees. You can purchase weatherstripping and caulking at any hardware or home improvement store.
Energy Storage Batteries
Energy storage batteries allow homeowners to store excess power for later use. Many different companies offer energy storage batteries, and the typical cost of installation ranges between $10,000 and $20,000 depending on the size of your home.
Energy storage batteries are a necessary addition for homeowners looking to use renewable energy, such as solar power. The batteries will store power to either use when the energy source is not available or sell back to the grid.
Installing energy storage makes you less dependant on the grid for power, making your home much more resilient to extreme weather conditions or rolling blackouts. It also reduces your carbon footprint as they rely on renewable energy as the primary source of power and wastes no additional energy. It also reduces the costs of your electricity bills every month due to the increased flexibility.
There are many ways homeowners can move towards net zero emissions on their homes. From major renovations to small upgrades, there’s no shortage of options for every house. Depending on your budget and location, certain green upgrades will be better suited to your home than others. It is best to get a professional consultation on your home by trusted professionals before moving forward with any concrete plans.
You should also look at the available subsidies and grants in your province/state to save money on eco-friendly renovations. Going green is initially a difficult step to take, but we are certainly moving in the right direction for a more sustainable future. And why not start right at home!