Going green doesn’t always have to mean expensive installations and renovations. In fact, just a few eco-friendly changes will not only use less energy but also help you save money. Here are 9 home projects you can try so you can conserve energy and help your wallet.

1. Replace your lightbulbs

Change out your old light bulbs with high-efficiency LEDs. LEDs use 20-25% of the energy as old halogen light bulbs and last 8-25 times as long. They might be more expensive to start, but they pay for themselves after a while when you start getting your energy bill back.

2. Change out old appliances

Old, inefficient appliances are a major drain on your energy bill. Replace old refrigerators, dish-washers, and laundry machines with Energy Star certified appliances. Your new appliances will use 20-40% less electricity than your older models, making your home greener and more efficient.

3. Insulate your home

Replace old and toxic insulation with newer, sustainable, and better insulating materials. Not only will this save on your energy bills, but it will be better for the environment in the long run.

4. Install high efficiency-windows

Double-paned windows decrease drafts in the summer and let out less hot air in the winter, cutting down on your heating and cooling costs. If you live in a cooler region, you can get gas-filled windows with “low-e” coatings that can reduce heat loss by up to 20%. Installing heavy window shades, shutters, and screens can provide extra insulation between your home and the outdoors.

If you live in a tropical area, why not go a step further and get some hurricane protection? Old windows will still be replaced with high-efficiency versions, and you will also get wind-resistant roofing. After that, make sure that you have some backup generators just in case. You will then be well prepared for whatever mother nature tries to throw at you while still saving money on your energy bills.

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5. Unplug your appliances

Unplug electronics and appliances when you are not using them. Electricity is wasted by chargers even when they aren’t in use. You can also program smart power strips to shut off during periods of inactivity so that you don’t have to remember to manually unplug them after every use. This small change can save up to $200 a year.

6. Install a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat can efficiently heat or cool your home as it can automatically adjust to your heating and cooling requirements. Make sure to do it on a room-by-room basis and track movement within your household so that it only focuses on rooms with people in it. If you feel like a smart thermostat is too invasive, then set your heat to 64 to 66 degrees in the winter and wear some extra clothing. In the summer, set the thermostat to 78 degrees.

7. Install rainwater collection

You can save on water bills if you install a rainwater collection system. This can range from plastic barrels under downspouts to full roof covering systems for all of your household water needs. It just depends on how eco-friendly and expensive you want to go with your system.

8. Install Solar panels

Installing solar panels is a great way to drastically shrink your electricity needs. You can start generating your own power, which can reduce or even eliminate your electricity bills. If your panels are particularly effective, you can actually receive money back from the energy you create.

9. Upgrade your HVAC system

Installing Energy Star certified furnaces and air conditioners can save over $100 a year on energy bills due to higher efficiency. Furthermore, resealing and properly insulating your ventilation ducts will make sure that your new HVAC system is running at its peak.

By following some or all of these home improvement tips, you will see a massive reduction in your utility bill. You will also have the satisfaction of knowing you are doing your best to be as eco-friendly as possible.

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