How much does it cost to make your home eco-friendly?
Last Updated Nov 7, 2016 · Written by Richard Kempthorne
Eco Friendly|How To
No matter if you’re planning a remodel, designing a new home, or looking for ways to make your house more eco-friendly, there are many different ways to make an impact.
If it’s in the budget to go straight for the big ticket items or hire someone to help you do it right, then do it. But there are many other things you can do besides splitting up the recyclables, even if your budget is minimal.
How to make your current home eco-friendly
There are many inexpensive or free things you can do around your house right now to decrease your fossil fuel usage, your electricity consumption, and your ecological footprint.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs. The options out there now for LEDs or CFLs get better every year and mimic the kind of lighting you grew up with. While seemingly steep at the outset, they last up to 10 times longer and can save 50-80%.
- Unplug appliances. Plug in similar electronics and appliances on a power strip. Turning them off when not in use can save up to 23% of your home’s energy cost per year.
- Shade the fridge. A warm summer sun beating down on your refrigerator only makes it work that much harder to stay cold.
- Keep your fridge at 4°C, the happy medium between safety and economy.
- If you have a fireplace, think about what you’re burning. Did this wood get cut down specifically for your enjoyment on a cold night? Options range from high density wood logs to pellets to verifying the wood you’re burning came from already-felled trees.
- Program your thermostat correctly. The average Australian house spends 40% of the energy bill on heating and cooling. Understanding the most efficient way to heat and cool your house can save you in the long run.
- Open your blinds… or close them. In the winter you can lose up to 40% of your heating through poorly insulated or single pane windows. If installing energy efficient windows isn’t in the budget, simply closing the blinds in summer can block up 70-85% heat gain.
- Start a compost bin. By composting your organic materials, you’ll lessen your contribution to the landfill, and also be brewing up 100% organic and local soil for your garden.
- Use green cleaning products. Today there many affordable and efficient green cleaning solutions. Or, try natural products like baking soda and vinegar mixtures, which have been dependable, eco-friendly cleaning products for decades.
- Only run full loads in the washing machine and the dishwasher. You use the same amount of water and energy to wash a full load as you do one item.
- Mulch your grass clippings. Switch the setting on your lawn mower to “mulch” and leave the clippings behind as you mow. You’ll supply natural fertilizer and extra shade for the remaining grass, as well as using less chemicals and water.
What tradies can I hire to make my house more eco-friendly?
It may be that after you implement some or all of the inexpensive ways to make your home more eco-friendly, you get the itch to make some major changes. But… maybe you don’t have the time or skills. No worries. We’ve got a list of the best tradies to hire that can help make your home as eco-friendly as possible. When researching possibilities, don’t be shy about asking tough questions about where your tradie gets their materials and what they do with the waste generated during a project.
- Plumbers. There are many items around your house that a plumber can install (or fix) to save on energy costs and water. Have your plumber install low-flow toilets, showerheads and tap aerators. While they’re there, have them inspect your hot water tank to be sure it’s functioning properly and well insulated.
- Painters. When hiring a painter, check that they only use paints with lower levels of volatile organic compounds.
- Landscapers. A well designed garden is not only pleasing, but can dramatically save both water and energy. Make sure your landscaper knows you only want native plants in your garden, and if you’re interested, work with them to plan an edible component as well. There’s nothing more local than stepping out your front door for veggies or herbs. If you’re starting with a blank slate, consider spending the money to install the proper irrigation system for your lot, your lifestyle and your geographic area.
- A handy man. Look for someone who has the skills to properly identify and fix some of the many areas around your home that can be more energy efficient. For example, have them check for drafts around windows and doors and inspect the insulation in your attic and walls, take a look at your heater, air conditioning, and hot water heater.
- Any qualified tradie in your local area! Just like buying local, hiring local is eco-friendly as well. Hiring a tradie in your community is not only better for the environment, it’s also supporting your local community and economy.
How much does it cost to make your home eco-friendly?
At this point, you’re probably starting to wonder how much it’s going to cost to make your home more eco-friendly. Like everything else, it can cost you. But it also depends a lot on your choices, the size of your house, how much you choose to do yourself or hire out, and the materials you choose. Here’s a sampling of some of the costs to consider when looking to make your home more eco-friendly.
- LEDs: $5 to $25
- CFLs: $2 to $20
Energy efficient windows
- There are too many varying factors to list even a range of prices for upgrading your windows, and every household will need their own quote. But in general, double glazed, the standard for energy efficiency, can cost 25-50% more than single glazed in upfront costs.
- Again, prices vary considerably. But according to a comparison by LifeHacker, a family of four can save $77.44 every year by using rechargeable batteries. Be prepared to pay about double what you used to pay for disposable batteries in the first year while you build up your supply.
- A Queen-sized, non-toxic mattress at Natural Bedding will cost you $2,021.00. Non-toxic bedding is not only better for your health (think of all that you breathe in during an 8-hour snooze) but use far less chemicals, energy and materials in manufacturing.
Sustainably harvested wood
- Bamboo, the fastest growing plant on earth, is a great choice for flooring and panelling and costs approximately $58.00 per square meter.
- Cork can be used as flooring, panelling, backsplash, and many other building options around the house. Its cost can vary as it can come in many different grades.
- There are many other options of sustainably harvest wood that are environmentally friendly. Find the best option for your household.
- Like a lot of other home appliances, there’s a massive range in toilets and they can cost $143 to over $1,000. When deciding which is best for your house, consider efficiency along with size, design, and price. A 4-star rating indicates 4.5 litres for a full flush and a dual flush toilet can save up to 50 litres of water per person per day.
- As simple as it sounds, ceiling fans can save on energy costs in both summer and winter, and are easy and affordable to install. Again, they have a wide price range and can cost $29.95 up to $499.
Low flow showerheads
- Like other energy efficient technology, these have gotten better over the last few years and you should still get the powerful water pressure like you loved from a high-water use showerhead. As a bonus, installing a 5 litre a minute showerhead can save you up to 5000 litres a year and will cost you $16.90 to $1,046 for one.
- Including the government rebate, a typical house will spend approximately $5,000.
Biodegradable bin liners
- Perhaps one of the simpler and cheaper items you can buy, these cost $8.45 for a pack of 20.
Whatever you choose to do, making your house more eco-friendly today doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort, style, or your wallet. Recognize that it’s not that easy to break old habits, so focus on one or two at a time. In time, your home will be more eco-friendly, and your energy bills will thank you for it.