Individuals today have many options available to them when trying to live more sustainably or more environmentally friendly. For those individuals who are also fortunate enough to own their home, pursuing some of these options is likely to increase the market value of your home while saving money on energy consumption costs. As an additional benefit, the U.S. government also offers various tax credit programs to sustainability-conscious homeowners to help them offload a substantial portion of the costs of installing these systems.
1. Reflective Roofing
Arguably one of the most effective methods for reducing energy costs is by modifying your roof to increase its solar reflectivity. Energy costs increase significantly during the summer months because of the energy needed to cool a home. For those of you who remember your physics class from high school, dark colors absorb heat while light colors reflect it. If you’re looking for an effective and inexpensive option to save money on air conditioning during the summer, then install a reflective roof.
2. Solar Heating
While your reflective roof will be very effective in keeping your home cool during the summer, it will also be very effective in keeping your home cooler during the winter. A cost-effective option for this is to invest in a wood pellet stove, however a more sustainable and more inexpensive option is to install solar air and water heaters. While both can be somewhat expensive if they’re purchased from a proprietary dealer as complete systems, online DIY communities have instructions for building and installing custom systems using materials as simple as soda cans, black paint, rubber hose, and mirrors.
3. Solar Panels
We’ve discussed reflecting and capturing the sun’s heat so we might as well discuss capturing its light as well. Solar panels have been traditionally considered an option only available to those with extra money to spend and the substantial up-front costs of installing these systems seemed to justify the popular opinion. However, because of a combination of government tax credits and corporate initiative, not only are solar panels cheaper overall, they’re cheaper from the moment they’re installed.
Many companies have begun waiving down-payments altogether and instead have elected to shift all payments to a lease program. As a result, the homeowner ends up paying the costs of installing solar panels in monthly installments just like they would pay their electricity bill — except they’re not paying their electricity bill, the monthly installations are cheaper than their electricity bill, and they can sell their surplus electricity to the grid.
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