Want to turn your house into a green home? Here are nine tips and tricks so you know what to look for when making your home greener!

Good morning! It’s my pleasure today to introduce Emily Folk. She’s here to write on one of her favorite topics – how to make your home green. Take it away, Emily!

Whether you recently purchased your home, you’ve had it forever, or you’re somewhere in between, one thing’s for sure: there’s so much to do to make your property greener. You don’t have to make a major overhaul in order to make your abode more earth-friendly. Instead, there are plenty of small steps to take and changes to make in order to ensure your home is as green as possible.

Of course, it’s hard to know where to start with your renovations and updates. As such, I’ve collected the following nine tips, all of which are effective in protecting the earth without sacrificing any of the comforts or coziness of home.

1. Buy a Fixer Upper

Green Home Rundown House in the Middle of Nowhere Fields Tiny Homes

Just in case you’re still in the market for your dream green home, I’d like to start by suggesting an out-of-the-box idea. Often times, houses built with all of the environmentally friendly bells and whistles are high in price. As such, many green-minded individuals are priced out of buying a home that they can live in with a good, clean conscience.

The best solution to this problem is to buy a fixer upper and update it to all of your green specifications. Be sure to have an inspection so you know the home has a good foundation and bones. Then, figure out ways to make it greener (I’ll suggest some later on) and begin the renovations. In the end, you’ll have that eco-friendly house you wanted with a price tag that’s much easier to swallow.

2. Bulk Up Your Insulation

Your home’s walls may be too thin — and you won’t realize it until you’re blasting the heat and still shivering throughout winter. Rather than waste electricity on heat that’s just going to slip through your walls and out into the cold, bulk up the insulation in your home’s walls with a green material.

There are multiple options when it comes to healthy, green insulation, too. Some might use recycled paper, while other homeowners could opt for recycled denim insulation. HempFlax insulation comes with a fire-retardant coating to keep you warm and protect your property in the unlikely event of a house fire.

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3. Plant Some Green

Green Home Red House in the Woods Trees White Picket Fence Brush

c/o Emily Folk

If you want an eco-friendly home, chances are you love a property that’s surrounded by nature’s tallest, greenest trees. Not only does this type of location keep you in touch with the earth you’re working to preserve, but it can help you maintain the comfort of the interior of your home as well.

The shade and protection from trees serves you well all year round. In the summer, shade from trees helps you keep your air conditioning at a minimum, with leaves obstructing sunlight from reaching inside your home. In winter, trees provide natural insulation, blocking your home from cold gusts of wind and snowy precipitation.

Of course, not every eco house will come surrounded by beautiful, old trees. Planting saplings on your property can help you reap the benefits from trees’ foliage down the line, though, so get started now.

4. Install Solar Panels

Living in a place with regular radiant sunshine has an obvious plus: you get to bask in the sun’s rays year-round. But those same rays that literally and figuratively brighten your day can also be a resource as you try to make your home greener. By installing solar panels on the roof of your home, you can capture and use sunlight to power your home’s electricity.

First, it’s imperative to check the strength of your roof before you install solar panels: it’s one of the most important pre-winter home checks, too, to make sure your property can withstand any snow should it fall. With the bones of your home in good condition, you can fearlessly install solar panels on top to reuse the sun’s energy to provide power for your eco-friendly homes.

5. Choose Appliances Carefully

Green Home Kitchen Appliances Stove Coffee Pot Cactus in Window Retro

Whether you’re completely renovating your kitchen or simply upgrading the appliances, now is the perfect time to make sure your electronics are up to your green standards. Fortunately, manufacturers have made it easy for you to find eco-friendly products: they’ll have an Energy Star appliance sticker to show that they run efficiently and effectively and will continue to do so for years to come.

In order to earn the Energy Star seal of approval, appliances must reduce the number of harmful emissions. They’ll also cut down on your energy costs because they require less electricity to run. For example, an Energy Star-rated refrigerator will need 15 percent less energy than the efficiency level required by the federal government.

6. Avoid Toxic Building Materials

This is an especially important step if you’re looking to update an old home. Many materials used in old construction have since been found to be unsafe and unfriendly to the environment.

There are lots of materials linked to health issues, including PVC and lead pipes and the pesticides found in natural wood products. As you get rid of these, you will want to make sure the products you use to replace them are more eco-friendly. Once you chip off lead-based paint, for example, you can re-apply a layer of paint with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Paints with VOCs can pollute the air inside of your home and beyond, so you’re better off selecting paints with low VOC levels.

If you’re not sure how to tackle such large projects, this is the perfect time to call in an expert. Not only will a contractor know how to safely remove unsafe materials, they’ll know how to replace them with things that are safer for you, kinder on the earth, and perfect for sustainable home design.

7. Know Your Windows

Green Home Open Dining Room with Large Bay Windows Hardwood Floors Deck Mountain View

c/o Emily Folk

Glass is an example of a material that’s typically environmentally-friendly because it’s not only clean but also recyclable. Still, older homes can have panes that aren’t necessarily earth-friendly because they’re too thin to provide home insulation. As such, heat escapes from window panes and back out into the outside environment, much as it does with walls that are poorly insulated.

So, inspect your home’s panes to see if they might need an update. You can simply hover your hand around the windows, sills, and any cracks that have formed around them — see if you can feel a draft of air coming in. if so, you may need to update your home with more insulated windows in order to keep heat in, lower heating costs, reduce electricity usage, and further safeguard the earth from the comfort of your own home.

8. Go Small

Green Home Wooden House Green Forest Stone Walkway Garden Trees Tiny Homes

The best way to cut down on your resource usage is to inhabit a smaller space. If you’re looking to move into a new property, that’s great: you can downsize your home in order to use less and live more comfortably. You could even make your own green home design!

If you already own a home, though, you might wonder how you can still cut back without moving. For a start, turn the thermostat down a few degrees at night when you go to bed and are nestled into your blankets: you won’t need as much heat while you sleep. In fact, a pre-programmed thermostat is a great way to cut down on your energy usage so that you’re not wasting heat or air-conditioning while you’re at work.

Cut the energy supply off to rooms you don’t regularly use. If the kids have gone off to college, for example, close the vents in their room so that air is brought to the places where you need it instead. Turn the circuits off there, too, so that no electricity is wasted.

9. Ask an Expert

If all else fails — or if you’re still unsure where to start — you may want to start your eco-friendly journey by enlisting an expert to help you. Schedule an energy audit, which will have a professional come out and inspect your home, uncovering ways to make it greener and more efficient.

Depending on the size of your home, this type of service can cost upwards of $300, so only do it if you’re serious about making green strides. Once you have the audit, though, you’ll know exactly where to put your money and time in order to have the efficient, earth-friendly home of your dreams.

Green Home LED Lights Hanging from Rafters Lighting Energy Efficient

c/o Emily Folk

Just remember that even small steps can make a big difference. Even just switching to LED lights or updating to a smart thermostat can drastically change your energy usage. Start with what’s most sustainable for your lifestyle and go from there.

All of the above tips have been formulated with that goal in mind. Whether you ask for help or seek out areas of improvement on your own, one thing’s for sure: you’re well on your way to creating the green home of your dreams. Not only will you thank yourself when you see lower energy bills, but the earth will thank you for taking such good care of its resources. And that, we know, will make it all worthwhile.

It is easier than you think to make your home greener. There are so many little things you can do that make a huge difference. Please comment below with your green home tips and tricks. And, make sure to share this post with all your eco-friendly friends. Until next time!

**Featured image c/o Bernadette Gatsby on Unsplash

Green Home Emily Folk Portrait Conservation Folks

Bio: Emily is a sustainability writer. You can read more of her work on her blog Conservation Folks and follow her on Twitter.