How to Make Your House Green Friendly with a Personal Loan
If you’re thinking about going green with your home, good for you! Benefits of doing so can be significant for the environment and the economy, and in terms of making a positive social impact. Green buildings use less energy, less water, fewer natural resources, and can even have a net positive effect in creating energy. Economically, you can save money on utilities, while living in a healthier environment. You can find a significant amount of information about these benefits from the World Green Building Council .
More specifically, the council shares the following message: “The world over, evidence is growing that green buildings bring multiple benefits. They provide some of the most effective means to achieving a range of global goals, such as addressing climate change, creating sustainable and thriving communities, and driving economic growth.”
And the good news is that there is no one “right” version of environmentally-friendly homes. You can choose from a huge range of strategies to go green, some large and significant, while others are small yet mighty. To help you go green your own way, we’ve scoured the web for resources to help.
Remodeling: How to Make Your Home Eco-Friendly
One of the core tenets of being environmentally friendly is being as energy efficient as possible. At the extreme end is what’s called having a “Net Zero” home, which means one that generates as much energy as it uses while still being on the standard energy grid. This creates a carbon-free home and is accomplished in part by making your home airtight (building materials matter) and well insulated. Net Zero homes go beyond going green—but don’t let that intimidate you. You can make that an end goal for the future, if that concept appeals to you, as you work towards making your home as energy efficient as possible now.
Lot Network provides information on harnessing solar power, calling the sun the “ultimate source of clean, low-cost energy.” The article shares how, if you generate enough solar power, you can actually sell some to your utility company. Plus, there are tax breaks and other government incentives available, as well as grant funding when you go solar. You can evaluate your home’s potential savings from solar power at Google’s Project Sunroof site .
Another option that involves a substantial upfront investment is geothermal power . During the winter, your home’s upgraded HVAC system receives heat from within the Earth, usually via steam or hot water. In the summer, the system removes extra heat and sends it underground using the same technology. Instead of creating heat through combustion processes, geothermal power moves heat.
Then there is going green with your roof. One option is to get a new roof that uses materials that reflect sun’s heat away, which is ideal if you live in a warmer climate and need to keep your home cool. These materials include slate and terra cotta, metal, and more. These green roofing materials are typically more expensive, but homeowners usually recoup costs through energy savings. Plus, these materials are long-lasting with minimal maintenance needed.
You can even create a “living roof,” like this example shared by This Old House , with literally hundreds of succulent plants. Living roofs help to:
• slow down and filter rain runoff
• protect natural waterways from oil residue
• lessen the chances that storm drainage systems will overflow
• keep the home warmer in winter
• keep the home six to eight degrees cooler in summer
• reduce utility costs
• absorb pollutants in the air
Living roofs tend to last twice as long as conventional ones, with This Old House estimating their cost at $13 to $45 per square foot. Unless you’re super handy, you will probably want to contract this job out to experts.
According to a 2016 report titled, “Design Guidelines for Green Roofs” posted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency , when you factor in life cycle costs, green roofs “cost the same or less than conventional roofing and they are an investment which provides a significant number of social, environmental, and economic benefits that are both public and private in nature.”
This in-depth report compares two types of green roofs: extensive and intensive. Extensive ones are more lightweight, suitable for large areas. They need little to no irrigation and are relatively inexpensive, but this is a stressful environment for plants, which limits plant choices.
Intensive green roofs, on the other hand, have deep soil and irrigation systems. This creates favorable conditions for plant growth, which naturally leads to more plant diversity. It also creates good insulation for the home and is more energy efficient overall.
The US Green Building Council also points out that you can go green with your power without even changing your electricity provider. Green power, the article explains, “is an optional utility service that helps support and expand the production and distribution of renewable energy technologies . . . you simply opt to pay a premium on your electricity bill to cover the extra cost of purchasing clean, sustainable energy.” Talk to your electricity provider for more details.
One of the simplest ways to reduce your home’s energy use by 20% to 30% is just by adding insulation throughout your home. Real Simple suggests you add insulation to ducts and doors, windows, and walls. Thermal shades do a great job of blocking summer sun and retaining winter heat—and don’t forget draft guards to block drafts from all your outside doors.
You can also install a “smart thermostat” so your furnace or air conditioning unit doesn’t work any longer or harder than it must to keep you comfortable. These can be programmed to turn on at a certain time of day (perhaps shortly before you get home from work) and to shut off at a logical time for you.
How to Be Environmentally Friendly at Home
Apartment Therapy has a fantastic list of 10 tips for environmentally-friendly homes that make it so easy to become more green. We’ll share four of them here.
Choose Natural Fabrics
First, don’t assume that natural fibers are more eco-friendly than synthetic materials. Pesticides used in cotton agriculture can negate eco-friendliness. So, check tags. Organically grown cotton is a good choice, and so is linen, hemp, and humanely-grown wool. You can also look for recycled polyester, which uses recycled plastic bottles to create fabric.
Cut Down on Electricity Use with LEDs
Wipe up spills with rags or cloth dish towels, rather than paper towels, and use LED light bulbs instead of incandescent ones. If you don’t like the blue-based lighting produced by many LEDs, choose ones with yellow-based lighting. Note, too, that you can sometimes find rebates for light bulb purchases at EnergyStar.
Save Your Scraps
Save leftover scraps from any craft projects you do and check for usable ones before buying anything new. If you have too many leftovers, consider donating them to a local school’s art program. Organizations like Material for the Arts collect reusable materials and provides them free to schools and nonprofit agencies with art programming.
Gardening and Composting
Composting in your home does not mean mess and smell. You can store food scraps in your freezer or add an attractive countertop bin. You’ll create less trash and, if you garden, you’ve now got free fertilizer. This is just one of the many tips provided by Architectural Digest and, speaking of gardening, what about planting your own herb garden? For a relatively small investment, you can eliminate the need for your herbs to be transported from a farm to a store, and from a store to your house. Instead, plant, water, grow, snip.
How to Make Your Home Eco-Friendly with a Personal Loan
Environmentally-friendly homes improve the quality of life for the people who live in them and also their communities. Once you’ve decided how to make your home eco-friendly, it’s probably time to consider ways to finance your improvements (like financing solar panels). Credit cards can seem tempting but, because of high interest rates, you could wind up paying much more for your home projects than necessary.
Instead, consider a lower interest personal loan from SoFi that fits your budget. Use our personal loan calculator to figure out what your payments might be, making sure you include a cushion for extras you may decide upon as your improvements take shape.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.