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Improving your home’s sustainability can go a long way toward saving energy, lowering monthly bills, and helping the environment at the same time. There are many ways you can help increase your home’s green profile, and most of them won’t break the bank.
Installing a new thermostat is a great way to reduce your energy usage and save money. Programmable thermostats allow you to control the temperature of your home whether you’re there or not. Some models even let you access the thermostat from your Smartphone. Replacing your thermostat this spring will help keep your home more comfortable this summer, while you save on those air conditioning bills.
The average cost of thermostat installation is between $200 and $250 for a digital thermostat.
Total costs range from $50 for a manual thermostat you install yourself to $700 for an electronic thermostat.
• Digital and electronic thermostats cost the most upfront, but will save you the most over time.
• Programmable thermostats come in different systems; check each one out first to make sure you get the right one for your needs.
Manual thermostats can usually be installed DIY, but digital and electronic thermostats may need an additional hub, as well as experience dealing with electricity, to do correctly.
Most homes today are under-insulated, meaning that they don’t have enough insulation for their needs. Adding attic insulation can help prevent your attic from becoming superheated in the summer, which in turn helps prevent roof damage, and keep that heat from transferring to the rooms below, raising your energy costs. Adding extra insulation this spring will help keep your whole house more comfortable year-round.
The cost to insulate an attic starts around $400 and can go as high as $1800, depending on the type of insulation being used.
• Insulate the underside of your roof deck as well as the attic floor to help stop heat transfer to and from your roof.
• Adjust your R-value to the climate you live in; moderate climates can use R-14, while harsher climates may need R-19 or higher.
It is possible to install roll insulation yourself. Just take care to protect your skin from the fiberglass, and not to step in areas where there are no floor joists below.
Planting trees in your yard is another way to increase your home’s green status. Trees help prevent soil erosion, and increase shade around your house, helping lower summer energy bills. Spring is the ideal time to plant new trees while you spruce up landscaping after a long winter.
The average cost of tree planting is $106 per tree for five small trees delivered and planted.
Total costs range from $75 per tree for five small trees delivered, and planted DIY, to $2,423 per tree for five large trees delivered and planted professionally.
• Check with your local government to find out if there are free trees available to plant.
• Check with the utility company before planting trees that could interfere with power lines (if planted in the wrong spot, they may need to be removed later).
Trees can be planted DIY as long as you can dig a large enough hole. For larger trees, you may want to rent a mini-excavator to help do the job.
Switching out standard lights for LED fixtures can help lower energy bills each month. LED lights come in many of the same shades of white light we’re used to, requiring only a fraction of the electricity. Some LED bulbs can be used in standard fixtures, but switching to an LED fixture can make the change easier. Making the switch in spring is the perfect time to see the biggest changes in your electric bill for the coming year.
The cost of installing new LED fixtures in your home is around $600 for 6 recessed lights.
Total costs range from $250 for a DIY installation to $1000 for premium materials. LED lights average $15 to $25 for a 100 watt bulb, but use less power per unit of light generated, lowering bills. Labor for installation is typically $65 to $85 per hour, and it takes about one hour per recessed light to be installed without issue.
• Invest in fixtures that allow flexibility in the type of bulb you use, so you can vary the strength and type of light until you’re satisfied with the results.
• Spread lights out evenly across the room to ensure you get the best light.
This job requires a licensed, experienced electrician.
Installing a water filter can be a smart move depending on your current water quality. There are many types of water filters, which can remove lead, bacteria, or minerals. Installing a filter can help you avoid bottled water, and help with issues such as pipe damage and health issues from the presence of nitrates or bacteria in your water. If you have a well, spring is the ideal time to get your water tested and a filter installed, as ground water can be impacted by melting snow.
The cost to install a water filter in your home is around $250 to $400 for a reverse osmosis system. Total costs range from $20 for a filtering pitcher to $3000 for a whole-house water softening system.
Have your water tested by a reliable private lab before purchasing. Filters come in all shapes, sizes, and styles; first learn what’s in your wáter, so you can select the right model for your home.
This job may or may not be suitable for DIY depending on the type of filter being used.
Yuka Kato writes about home improvement tips & tricks to help homeowners learn more about improving their properties. She also delivers useful cost information you can use to help improve your own home at HowMuch.net.