Green Additions That Pay for Themselves

Green home renovations can help pad your savings account by reducing high energy bills and providing tax breaks. Many green renovations can also help make your home more comfortable and beautiful to live in.  But you might wonder: which environmentally friendly home renovations offer the best return on investment? Keep reading to discover five green home renovations that will pay for themselves in a matter of years.
1. Solar Water Heaters                                                                                                              Solar water heaters collect and store water, and then use the sun’s thermal energy to heat it. Simple solar water heaters can be installed by a savvy homeowner; whole house systems require professional installation.  You may be able to recoup your solar water heater cost in just a few years, thanks to a reduced energy bill and government rebates and tax credits. According to GreenandSave, heating the water for your home makes up about 11% of your annual energy bill. The site also states that by spending $2,500 for a solar water heating system, you’ll save approximately $280 each year.
If you’re determined to recover as much of the cost of the system as possible, be sure to research government rebate and tax credit criteria prior to selecting your solar water heating system.
2. Grow an Indoor Garden
A vertical indoor garden makes an ideal green renovation for those who live in an apartment or in a small urban structure where major renovations are nearly impossible. A vertical indoor garden helps clean the air of your home because plants trap carbon dioxide, an air pollutant, and release clean oxygen for us to breathe. In essence, plants work like natural air filters. Spider plants, Boston ferns and English ivy are just some plants that work hard to keep your home clean.
You can buy pre-made vertical wall panels, like this panel sold by, or follow Sunset’s step by step guide to making your own vertical garden.  It’s hard to put a price tag on the health benefits plants offers, but whether you build or buy a vertical garden, it’s a smart and easy way to greenify your home.
3. Build a Rain Barrel
You might think building a rain barrel is beyond your ability, but you’re wrong. Building a rain barrel is easy, fun, and economical.
Watch this easy-to-follow video and learn how to build your own economical rain barrel. On average, you can expect to recoup your supply costs in less than one summer season. In fact, even if you decide to purchase a rain barrel, you’ll likely recover the expense in one summer season. That’s because it is estimated that during the summer months, the average homeowner spends 40 percent of their water bill on watering their lawn. Use the rain you’ve collected to supply your irrigation system as well as for other tasks such as watering indoor plants, washing the car, cleaning exterior windows and doors and giving Fido a bath.
If you have questions about building your own rain barrel, call your local extension center.
4. Install a Security System with Home Automation
Home automation helps green your home by giving you the ability to schedule or adjust lights, thermostats, and appliances with a few touches on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Many home security systems now have the option to install home automation as well.
You’ll not only reduce your home’s environmental footprint, you’re likely to reclaim system costs within a few years due to lower energy bills and reduced homeowner’s insurance premiums.
5. Geothermal Heating
On a basic level, a geothermal heating system uses the Earth’s heat to warm your home. Given that the Earth’s heat is a renewable energy source that is virtually pollutant free, it’s a much greener alternative to fossil fuels.
Switching to geothermal heating is a rather costly endeavor, but according to Our Energy,  cost savings achieved from a geothermal heating system can be as much as 80 percent over the use of fossil fuels. The system not only heats, it cools too.
A geothermal heating and cooling system has the lowest operating cost of any HVAC system on the market today, and the Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the installation cost on a retrofit can be recouped in two to ten years. Review the DOE’s website for information on geothermal tax credits.
What other tips do you have for going green in your home?

Guest Post by Colton Matheson.

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