While many people see solar energy as too expensive to be worthwhile, you may want to reconsider. Solar energy does have a significant cost to pay upfront, but that cost is decreasing every year. As of mid-2017, the U.S. has a total solar power capacity of 47.1 gigawatts (GW), which is enough to power 9.1 million homes. Additionally, not only is solar energy getting more affordable; it ends up paying for itself in energy savings. Solar panel installation and use can ultimately recover the cost of installation via energy savings in as little as seven years, depending on where you live and solar energy availability.
Even if solar energy isn't a practical solution for your home, there are plenty of other ways to make an environmental impact that pays for itself over time. The right water-saving systems throughout your home can also decrease your home's utility bills, reducing regular spending to help cover the cost. Look for greywater systems and water-saving appliances, or even reach out to see what your local community does for wastewater treatment. Wastewater treatment facilities in the United States process approximately 34 billion gallons of wastewater every day. See what your options are for installing more efficient systems that recycle water; they might be expensive upfront, but they're well worth the cost.
Not all green fixes rely on intensive home repair; some just take a green thumb and a bit of effort. The right landscaping designs can help you cut down on energy bills by making it easier to heat or cool your home depending on the season. Landscaping is also a great way to improve your home's value; the right landscaping can add as much as 14% to the resale value of your home. This will ultimately help offset the cost, especially if you eventually decide to sell the home later on.
Other Ways To Save
So what should you do if all of these options are still too expensive upfront to add to your home? In some areas, you might actually be able to receive grants and funding towards improving your home for the sake of energy efficiency. Look to your community associations and other similar local organizations as a starting point. U.S. homeowners paid approximately $88 billion in assessments toward community associations in 2016; sometimes, that money goes back towards homeowners looking to make environmentally-friendly improvements on their property. Every area is different, so be sure to check out resources near you before you start in on your next home improvement project.
Going green can sometimes have a barrier to entry due to the cost of many fixes associated with being eco-friendly. However, choosing the right fixes can help offset the overall cost over time, while also decreasing your home's carbon footprint. What affordable methods do you use to keep your lifestyle as green as possible? Have you found certain methods of going green more cost-effective than others?