Your home should be your refuge at the end of a long day, but if the utility bills are sky-high, it may feel less like a cozy haven and more like a money pit. Fortunately, making your home more eco-friendly is as easy as tackling a few do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. We’ve created a list of eco-friendly DIYs that any homeowner – from beginner DIYers to weekend warriors – can tackle.
Whether you’re a new or veteran homeowner, you probably know that most energy-efficient DIY projects require a bit of skill and know-how. But everyone must start somewhere, and if you’re an absolute beginner DIYer, these projects are for you.
#1: Install LED lighting
If you can screw in a lightbulb, you can complete this project. Upgrading your home’s incandescent lighting to ENERGY STAR rated LED bulbs will save you between 75% – 80% of your lighting-related energy costs. As a bonus, LED bulbs last eight to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, which means you’ll rarely have to change burnt-out bulbs. LED lights are inexpensive and cost about $2 per bulb at popular retailers like IKEA. This project will cost between $100 and $200, depending on the size of your home and the number of lightbulbs.
#2: Seal air gaps
One of the biggest causes of drafts in a home isn’t old windows and doors, but air leaks around those windows and doors. These drafts are the enemy of a cozy home but are easy to remedy by sealing them with silicone caulking. Start by using caulking rated for windows and doors, and use a caulking gun to seal the gaps where your doors and window trim meet interior and exterior walls.
Once that is complete, check the weatherstripping around your exterior doors and replace it if necessary. Finally, check your attic and basement for significant gaps (for example, around recessed lighting in the attic) and seal with expanding foam. Sealing the air gaps in your home will take an afternoon, but is affordable, with your materials costing under $50.
If you’re comfortable with basic plumbing projects and working with electricity — remembering to turn off the power first – these eco-friendly DIYs will make a significant impact on your home’s energy efficiency.
#3: Install a low-flow showerhead
Eco-friendly projects aren’t limited to saving money on electricity. You can also reduce the amount of water you consume by switching to low-flow devices like showerheads. Upgrading to a low-flow showerhead will reduce your shower’s water use by about 40%, and costs only $20. You’ll need a pair of pliers to remove the old showerhead, and the entire process takes about 15 minutes.
#4: Install a smart thermostat
If you’re comfortable working with electricity, upgrading your home’s thermostat to a smart thermostat will save you 10 to 15% on your heating costs by allowing you to turn down the room temperature when no one is home or when your family is sleeping. Some smart thermostats even sync to your smartphone to automatically detect when you aren’t home. This DIY is a little more advanced and involves turning the power off to your home and doing some basic wiring. Smart thermostats start at $200, and this DIY will take about an hour to complete, depending on your skill level.
Advanced eco-friendly DIYs
If you’re an accomplished DIYer, these projects require more expertise, but will also have a more significant impact on your home’s comfort and efficiency.
#5: Add insulation to your attic
Heat rises, and for homes with little insulation, it can rise through your ceiling, your attic, and out of your house entirely. Adding blown-in insulation to your attic is a great way to reduce heat loss and make your home cozier. You can rent an insulation blowing machine from your local hardware store and install blown-in insulation yourself, for a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional. This project will cost between $500 – $1,000 and may take the entire day (or two, depending on the size of your home) but could reduce your heating bills by 15 to 20%.
#6: Install a dual-flush toilet
Your home’s toilets may not seem like big water consumers, but toilets account for 30% of a home’s overall water usage. Upgrading to a dual-flush toilet can save you 20 to 60% of this cost, and the process is straightforward for those comfortable with basic plumbing principles. Dual-flush toilets start at around $200 at your local hardware store, but the price can climb significantly depending on the model you choose.
Green DIYs for renters
If you’re a renter instead of a homeowner, you might think that you’re stuck with your home’s drafts and higher energy bills, but you’d be wrong. There are plenty of easy DIY projects that are renter-friendly.
#7: Weatherize windows
If the windows in your rental are older, consider weatherizing them with plastic film insulation. This insulation is transparent, so light and visibility are not impeded and is activated by heat – usually a hairdryer – to shrink wrap your windows. This DIY is entirely reversible – just remove the insulation in warmer weather or when you move out. Plastic film is inexpensive, and a single kit will cost you less than $45. The process to weatherize your windows could take several hours, depending on the size of your home.
#8: Eliminate phantom power
Did you know that your television and other electronics continue to consume energy even when turned off? This power draw is called phantom power, and you can avoid it by powering your electronics with a power bar equipped with a timer. Set the timers to automatically turn off the power bar when you are at work or asleep, eliminating phantom power draw during those times.
Updating your home’s energy efficiency doesn’t have to cost thousands and require professional help. By tackling these simple do-it-yourself projects, you can take steps toward improving your home’s comfort and lowering your energy bills, and eventually, you’ll have a home that is more comfortable and more environmentally friendly.