Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Options

Reader Contribution by Devin Morrissey

While being a homeowner comes with a lot of responsibilities, getting to make modifications and renovations can be a perk of owning your home. When it comes time to revamp, consider what improvements can be made that can both reduce your carbon footprint, as well as increase the value of your property.

Solar Panels

Many homeowners are taking advantage of refinancing their home and are spending the money saved on their monthly mortgage payment on new solar panels. Although the upfront costs of solar panels may be deterring you from installing them on your home (though they are getting cheaper every year), the rewards are much higher. The average home with solar panels is saving about $80 a month. Depending on the state that you live in, you can receive tax breaks and rebates on your installed solar panels. Some states also offer subsidies to offset those initial installment costs. If you are not ready to take the leap and purchase panels from your home, several companies now lease solar panels that can be removed when you move out.

Energy Efficient Windows

During the coldest months of winter and the hottest months of summer, energy-efficient windows will cut back on the amount of energy used to heat and cool your home. Outdated windows allow for heated and cooled air to escape at a rapid rate, costing you more money than is often realized. By not having to run your furnace or air conditioning as often, you can feel pride in doing your small part in reducing your environmental impact while still remaining comfortable in your home. If you have other home improvements that take priority, you can also increase energy efficiency by installing high-quality, thick curtains to retain climate-controlled air inside your home. An added benefit to energy-efficient windows is they also cut down on the amount of noise pollution coming into and out of your house — offering you and your family a bit more peace and quiet.


When considering what improvements can be made to your property, don’t forget to look towards the exterior. Map out where you can install a garden, if you don’t already have one. Growing your own food can help to reduce the carbon footprint of your meals by a large amount. Food production and transport in the United States in one of the top three contributors to carbon emissions. By eating a more plant-based diet, consisting of vegetables grown on your own property, you can significantly reduce your impact.

In addition to a conventional garden, you can also utilize the exterior home for added growing space. Beans and squash can create decorative vines on the outside of your home, while also producing food for you and your family. Installing green roofs on your home can also make it more energy efficient. The plants help to absorb heat and work to insulate your home to keep it cooler in the summer months while also being aesthetically pleasing.


Before getting too excited about going shopping for new countertops and appliances, research how you can use what you already have and what simple updates can be made. Perhaps those vinyl countertops could be stripped and revamped with recycled-paper tops instead of removing all of the countertops and shipping them off to the landfill. If your home is older, there may be beautiful wood flooring underneath the carpet that you want to replace. The carpet can be recycled while you can sand and lacquer your home’s original flooring to create a unique look without wasting further building supplies. If you update your windows, make sure to donate them  to your local ReStore to give them the chance to serve a purpose in another home or project. Explore your local antique shops and recycling centers to see what other items can be used as opposed to using virgin material and newly manufactured goods when updating your home.

Being environmentally savvy when making home improvements has a big payback — it can save you money and you’ll be doing your part to reduce your environmental impact. Each year, innovative offerings expand the possibilities of ways to improve your home. Make a list of your priorities to update in your home and then research ways to do so that will benefit both you and the environment.