Eco-Friendly Upgrades To Consider in Your Next Home

April 19th, 2022

Selling | Buying | Realtors®
Eco-Friendly Upgrades To Consider in Your Next Home

Eco-Friendly Home Updates

No matter where you live, home residents generally value having an eco-friendly home. One study found seven in 10 American households claim their home is eco-friendly. However, 77% of those same homeowners claim that they would like to have an even “greener” lifestyle.

A beautiful home with solar panels installed on the roof.

In addition to its various environmental benefits, an eco-friendly home can also benefit both homebuyers and homeowners. An estimated 69% of homebuyers find value in home listings with energy-efficient features. It’s also in a homeowner’s best interest to add eco-friendly features to their home: On average, energy-efficient homes sold for 2.7% more than comparable homes without any eco-friendly upgrades.

Eco-friendly upgrades are some of the most valuable improvements you can make to a home. They can lead to more efficient homes, lower utility bills, and a greener environmental outlook. 

Just like a garage or a carport, environmental home renovations help to improve home value. Consider the following eco-friendly home improvements if you’re looking to maximize the value of your current, or future, property.

Reused and Recycled Materials

Even if you’re building an entirely new home, take advantage of recycled materials. When you reuse building materials, you’re helping to give existing supplies a new life. 

As long as you source recycled building materials from the right locations, you can save money on supplies. Consult residential recycling centers or home improvement stores for the best places in your area to find reused materials. 

You might also want to ask local construction companies for their recommendations on where to find reused building supplies. A construction company with a reputation for eco-friendly services will likely be able to point you toward recycled materials for your own projects. 

Depending on your individual needs, you’ll be able to find a wide variety of recycled materials. In particular, look for materials you can use to support your walls, floors, or internal infrastructure. These materials might include used steel, reclaimed wood, bamboo, concrete pavers, and even tile.

Environmental Impact

When you use green materials during the construction process, you do more than reduce waste: You also help to reduce the amount of water used during construction.

Construction companies are notorious for the amount of water they use during virtually all stages of the production process. Inefficient water use in the construction sector can result in unintentional runoff and other negative ecological consequences. 

Green construction materials can also help homeowners lower energy bills. In Jakarta, a study completed on nine large buildings revealed 30 to 80% lower annual utility costs, compared to buildings with traditional construction. 

The use of green building supplies can also help to reduce emissions from VOCs — volatile organic compounds. VOCs can be a surprisingly common find in modern homes: Cleaning supplies, cosmetic products, varnishes, and paints can all contain volatile organic compounds.

Using eco-friendly building supplies is particularly important if you, or a family member, work from home. Working from home can offer several benefits, though you’re also likely to use more natural gas and electricity. To save money while living — and working — at home, consider the use of eco-friendly materials. 

Using less energy daily isn’t always easy, but it’s usually the smart choice. It’s typically a win-win for both your wallet and your world.

Worker installing solar panels on the roof of home.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are becoming more common across the United States. An estimated 4% of American homes are powered by solar energy — enough to power more than 11.3 million homes. By 2030, solar power could provide up to 13% of the world’s energy

Sometimes, your neighborhood or local government might offer an incentive if you install solar panels. For example, some municipalities will provide residents with cash deposits once their solar panels are operational. In other cases, your neighborhood might work with a particular solar panel provider to lower — or eliminate — installation costs. These discounts or financial incentives are sometimes limited to a certain period, or a certain number of homeowners. 

If you’re considering a move to a new city, remember to check with their local government to see if there are any active solar offers. These programs are created with new homeowners in mind, as an incentive that encourages city growth.

Environmental Impact

Solar panels can improve the environment — and help keep more cash inside your wallet. 

Even partial solar use represents an eco-friendly upgrade for your home. When you install solar panels, you’re reducing your dependence on fossil fuels — an energy source that can severely injure global ecology.

Your use of solar energy also helps to improve local health. Coal and natural gas production plants regularly release pollutants into local air and waterways; by contrast, solar power is sourced entirely from the sun.

Energy-Efficient Lighting

Using energy-efficient light bulbs and fixtures makes it easy to protect the environment while upgrading your home. Without breaking the bank, energy-efficient lighting helps save money — and bathes your home in natural-looking light.

There’s one obvious way to make the lighting in your home more energy efficient: use windows. Windows can help cut energy bills generated by lighting and help to improve your home’s aesthetic beauty. The right windows can also help keep any indoor plants happy and healthy.

While window installation is usually a great eco-friendly home upgrade, it’s not always possible. Many newer townhomes do not allow residents to change windows, at least not without prior approval from a homeowners association. High-quality condos are often subject to the same rules. 

If you have the necessary approval to install energy-efficient lighting, you don’t necessarily need to overhaul your home. Consider upgrading the lighting in one of the more popular rooms in your home. For example, you might implement energy-efficient light fixtures when designing a “glam” room, or as the final touch in a guest bedroom.

Environmental Impact

While not as comprehensive as solar panels or recycled building materials, energy-efficient lighting can still have a positive impact on the environment, simply because they expend less energy. For example, many LED lights convert 95% of required energy into light, while fluorescents do the opposite. LED bulbs are also non-toxic, which means they leak fewer dangerous chemicals into the landfill at the end of their lifecycle.

Energy-efficient lighting can also result in cleaner air. Eco-friendly light bulbs require less energy to illuminate, reducing your energy usage rates from local power plants. Less power plant output means fewer harmful air emissions, which can directly impact the quality of the air you breathe each day.

Consider a Dedicated Eco-Home

No matter your budget, you can work to create a dedicated eco-home over time. Depending on your home preferences — square footage, number of rooms, internal and external features — one type of eco-home might be a better fit than another. 

You might consider one, or more, of the following types of eco-homes:

  • Tiny homes: A downgraded living space that contains only the absolute essentials: living quarters, culinary necessities, and often a bathroom. The tiny home movement is steadily gaining popularity, meaning a tiny home could be a good investment in a hot home-market.

  • Barndominiums or container homes: Sometimes called a “container home”, a barndominium is a home with a metal exterior. Often resembling — or built inside — a repurposed barn, barndominiums are commonly found in more-rural home environments.

  • Zero-carbon homes: Nearly airtight, zero-carbon homes operate without the use of any fueled insulation. They often have north- and south-facing windows to maximize sunlight, and depend on ground heat. These homes are often found in sparsely populated areas, given their freedom from natural gas lines.

  • Earth domes: These homes appear much like you’d expect — in a dome-shape, covered in earth. Commonly covered in soil or hewn from rock, an earth dome is typically insulated by the materials it was built from — stone, soil, grass, even wood. Earth domes are typically found in the country.

  • Living wall homes: Homes with living walls can be found all over the world. All you need to create a living wall home is a vertically aligned garden, from floor to ceiling, inside or outside the home. Often, home residents will grow herbs or other useful plants inside a living wall home.

A smart thermostat can create an eco-friendly home

Always Check for Certifications

If you’re serious about making eco-friendly upgrades to your home, you’ll want to look for a few certifications. Eco-friendly certifications indicate brands that share your passion for environmentally friendly renovation. 

Here are a few eco-friendly certifications to prioritize during any sustainable home renovations: 

  • Energy Star: Both homes and products can meet Energy Star sustainability standards, set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Every Energy Star home upgrade helps to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy waste.

  • LEED: LEED-certified homes meet a high threshold for air quality. A recognized LEED home also has high levels of natural light and was built using verified construction methods to promote strong resident health.

  • Passive House Certification: A certification that indicates a home with high energy efficiency. To become a Passive House, your home must meet ultra-low energy use standards for both heating and cooling.

  • FORTIFIED Home: A whole-home certification that identifies a residence constructed with eco-friendly practices, which help to prevent damage from natural disasters.

These and other certifications help to distinguish exceptional environmental home brands. When considering eco-friendly upgrades for your home, make sure to give providers with these certifications a long look.

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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! Nice to 'meet' you and thanks for visiting our Raleigh Real Estate Blog! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I'm a REALTOR® in Raleigh-Durham, NC, the owner of Raleigh Realty. I work alongside some of the best Realtors in Raleigh. You can find more of my real estate content on Forbes, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and more. Realtor Magazine named me a top 30 under 30 Realtor in the country (it was a long time ago haha). Any way, that's enough about me. I'd love to learn more about you if you'd like to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram or connect with our team at Raleigh Realty. Looking forward to connecting!