When Cliff and Karen Tyllick decided to install solar panels on their Austin, Texas home in 2012, their goal was to reduce their carbon footprint. The fact that they also saved thousands of dollars up front and lowered their bills was a nice plus.
Installing a solar panel can cost anywhere from $ 15,000 to $ 25,000 or more. For the Tyllicks, federal and local incentives drastically reduce their costs – they no longer pay for electricity often, and when they do, it costs between $ 30 and $ 50 per month.
Whether you’re building sustainability into your kitchen remodel or making specific modifications to lower your utility bills, a green remodel doesn’t have to be expensive. It can even save you money in the long run.
Here are some tips for eco-friendly and budget-friendly remodeling.
“ Building green ”
Homeowners who are considering hiring a contractor for their remodel can find a certified green professional to help estimate the cost of the project and focus spending on the plans and materials that have the greatest impact on the sustainability of your home, says Tim Ellis, a PMC and co-owner of Maryland-based TW Ellis.
Search the National Home Builders Association database for local builders with the CGP designation.
Ellis says he often begins large renovations with a home energy audit to highlight ways the home could be more energy efficient. In some cities, the local utility will conduct an inexpensive or free audit, he says, and you may be eligible for funding or discounts to implement the recommendations.
Recommendations could involve adding additional caulk or better insulation to seal your home, Ellis says, which can result in big savings.
Tyllick says her house needed an audit for the city to subsidize part of its solar panel installation. At the time, the audit was free for the couple and triggered updates such as fixing air leaks around doors and windows and adding insulation in the attic, he says.
Buy, dispose of in a sustainable way
Buying used furniture and building materials is a green alternative to buying new, says Chloe Chapman, who manages special projects for Build It Green, a nonprofit that helps homeowners navigate sustainable remodeling.
Well-made vintage items, for example, that use reclaimed or reclaimed wood won’t need to be replaced as often as inferior materials, she says.
âTypically, if something was made a long time ago, it was made to last longer than a lot of products made today,â Chapman explains.
Even buying new items locally and shortening the supply chain can be a more sustainable choice than ordering from a big box store.
Labels can be a helpful guide when shopping for your home improvement, explains Chapman. On wood materials, for example, look for a Forest Stewardship Council label indicating sustainable sourcing. A WaterSense label indicates that a fixture or device is 20% more efficient than its average counterparts.
Efficient fixtures and fixtures often cost the same as those without special labeling, Ellis says.
Rather than throwing away old items, he recommends recycling or donating. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity can pick up old furniture and building materials for free in some areas, while renting garbage cans or removing trash can cost hundreds of dollars.
Put money in advance
Even with incentives from the government and your utility company, home renovations are still expensive.
Using your savings is the cheapest way to pay for a renovation, but financing options are available if you need them.
For homeowners with sufficient equity, home equity loans or lines of credit have the lowest rates and long repayment terms.
If you don’t want to use the home as collateral for the project, personal loans can have low rates for borrowers with high credit, and they’re usually funded in less than a week.
Compare your options and find out what each lender has to offer to find the lowest rates and the best features.