It’s a new year, and you know what that means: New Year’s resolutions. Now is the perfect time to think of ways to improve your lifestyle, so why not start at home? Creating a more eco-friendly living space can be beneficial in many ways. If saving money is what you’re striving for this year, making your home greener can significantly reduce your utility bills and keep your carbon footprint in check. Going green can also have some health benefits, too.
Don’t know where to start? We can help! We’ve come up with some projects you can undertake to create an eco-friendlier home that you can enjoy for years to come while contributing to a healthy environment. Here are 12 New Year’s resolutions for an eco-friendly home in 2023:
1. Take the first steps to switch to solar
Solar is now more accessible than ever. With the cost of installing solar panels at its lowest in 10 years, now is a great time to go solar. As only about 20% of electricity generation comes from renewable energy, most of the energy we use in the home is produced by burning fossil fuels. If you do one thing towards saving the planet this year, opt for solar panels. Going solar will reduce your energy consumption and your carbon footprint.
The first step towards going solar is to check if your roof is suitable for solar panels. To get the ball rolling, speak to an expert who can suggest the type of panels suitable for your home, along with estimated costs. The average cost to install solar panels is $18,000, but thanks to the recent Inflation Reduction Act, homeowners can now get a solar tax credit of up to 30% of the cost to install solar panels if installed before 2033. Additionally, those who already have solar panels installed and are using battery systems that store energy generated from their solar panels also qualify for the 30% credit.
2. Choose more sustainable materials for your kitchen remodel
If you’ve decided to remodel your kitchen this year, opt for sustainable materials wherever you can. Butcher Block is an excellent option for your countertops, while reclaimed wood or bamboo is suitable for cabinets. Bamboo is affordable, durable, and easy to clean, and it is also one of the fastest-growing recyclable and compostable plants.
However, keep in mind that bamboo is neither heat nor stain-resistant, so you’ll need to seal it regularly to keep it looking clean and fresh. Whichever material you choose, it will need to be maintained to keep your kitchen looking its best.
3. Stop wasting heat
If one of your goals is to save money this year, energy efficiency should be at the top of your priority list. With heating costs skyrocketing in recent weeks, the last thing you want is to lose valuable energy due to drafty doors and windows. Thermal transfer causes warm or cold air to escape or enter your home, and happens most frequently due to poor insulation and gaps around your windows and doors.
Insulation and weatherstripping jobs should be completed sooner rather than later, as the longer you leave it, the more you will pay to heat or cool your home. The weatherstripping will help seal any air gaps between your doors and windows, and insulation will prevent air from escaping through the walls, reducing energy loss significantly. The average cost to weatherstrip your doors and windows is $350, and the cost to insulate your home can range between $3,000 and $7,000. But remember, this is money you will recoup over the cold winter months and hot summer days.
4. Choose eco-friendly paints and wallpapers when you redecorate
Painting your walls can give your home a fresh look for the new year. Opt for eco-friendly paints that are lower in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) for healthier air in your home. Toxic emissions from VOCs lead to various health problems and have a negative effect on the environment.
However, if you want to add color to your home while contributing to a healthy planet, wallpaper is a more sustainable option as it lasts longer than paint. According to Fixr.com’s Paint and Color Trends 2023, 63% of experts say that wallpaper will be more popular than ever. So before you opt for your favorite pattern, ensure your wallpaper has low VOCs and is 100% recyclable.
5. Replace your light bulbs with LEDs
Another way to make your home eco-friendly while helping you fulfill your money-saving resolution this year is to swap your incandescent light bulbs for LEDs. Traditional incandescent light bulbs use considerably more electricity than the newer Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) or Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) bulbs, so now’s the time to make the switch if you want to start saving on electricity bills.
While CFL bulbs cost slightly less, LED lights use just a third of the amount of energy as CFL bulbs. You could weigh out the pros and cons of CFL vs. LED Bulbs, but federal guidelines are leading to the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs, so make the switch now and start saving electricity sooner rather than later.
6. Ditch plastic water bottles
Most of the plastic water bottles that we use end up in landfills or the ocean, devastatingly affecting the environment. If the taste of your tap water is an issue, a water filtration system is a simple and effective solution. The cost to install a water treatment system can range from $2,100 to $3,300 and will help solve any water issue you may have in your home, whether it be hard or sediment filled.
7. Automate your home
Although 2023 may not be the year for flying cars just yet, it can offer us something that can take away some of the hassles of owning a home. It’s time to finally start using smart technology to its full potential. Automating your home means controlling certain features such as heating, cooling, lighting, and electronics – and all you need is a smartphone and a WiFi connection.
The average cost to automate your home is $4,000, a sustainable investment that will lower your energy consumption by switching off any devices that aren’t in use and maintaining your home’s temperature efficiently.
8. Make the most of your yard
You are what you eat, so if getting healthy is also at the top of your priority list for 2023, make use of your garden by growing whatever you can. If you don’t have the greenest thumbs, start growing herbs by your kitchen window. These will add flavor to your dishes and prevent you from buying processed and packaged foods. If you have the space, try planting fruit trees or starting a small vegetable patch. Gardening will save you some money on grocery shopping while contributing to a healthier ecosystem.
If your yard needs some work before you start planting, you can hire a professional to landscape it for you. Landscaping costs around $10,000, and if you opt for xeriscaping, you can make sure your garden uses as little water as possible by using native or drought-resistant plants.
9. Start collecting rainwater
Another step to take towards making your home greener while saving money is collecting rainwater. Rainwater can be used to water your garden, reducing expenses and contributing to a sustainable way of living. You can start collecting rainwater for as little as $150 for a simple barrel, but you could also take it a step further by installing an advanced rainwater collection system, which costs an average of $2,500. A collection system will allow you to use the rainwater within your home, further reducing your utility bills.
10. Invest in a compost bin
Organic waste amounts to 24% of the trash thrown into landfills, so composting is a great sustainable option for reducing your carbon footprint. If taking more care of your yard is also on your New Year’s resolution list, your compost can be used as fertilizer to enrich your soil so you can enjoy a healthy and colorful garden this spring.
11. Update your appliances to Energy Star rated
Out with the old and in with the new! Appliances don’t come cheap, so you’ve probably been putting off replacing them for quite some time now. But if you’re finally setting the goal of improving your home’s functionality this year, make sure to opt for energy-efficient appliances.
Look out for Energy Star labels when shopping for a new appliance. This seal means the product is more efficient than other models as it has met Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efficiency standards. The IRA has offered rebates and tax credits for installing these energy-efficient appliances, making them a worthy investment for lowering your energy bills.
Additional steps to maximize your appliances' energy efficiency include air drying your laundry whenever possible and washing your clothes at lower temperatures. These steps can reduce your energy consumption and lower CO2 emissions.
12. Reduce your water consumption
Reducing the amount of water consumed in your home will save you money on both water and energy bills.
Start the new year by taking shorter showers and using low-flow shower heads. Look out for the WaterSense label by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indicating which showerheads save water and energy without sacrificing an enjoyable shower. Other tips on saving water include scraping your dishes instead of rinsing them before they go in the dishwasher and only running the dishwasher when it’s fully loaded.
Striving for a Healthier Planet in 2023
Although some of these resolutions may require commitment, patience, and a little investment, you will only get the effort you put in out of them. What’s important is choosing the attainable and suitable resolutions for you and your home.
The new year is not only an excellent opportunity for change but can also symbolize a new beginning toward a more sustainable, economical, and healthier future. Happy New Year, and the best of luck on your new journey to an eco-friendly home in 2023.
Charlotte is a researcher and author at Fixr.com. With a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communications, she analyses industry data to provide homeowners with the best advice and visual representations of the home improvement sector. She is passionate about promoting sustainability within the home, and with a personal interest in interior design, she is always up to date about the latest home remodeling trends.