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Eco-Friendly Design Tips for Your Home

Your home’s energy efficiency is every bit as big a concern as the landscaping or exterior paint color. Keeping an eye on energy usage can mean hundreds of dollars in savings per month. This is especially true in places where you need heat or air conditioning for many months out of the year like Washington DC.

Green upgrades can also effect on your home’s market value! If you’ve been looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint or lower your utility bills, you’re in luck. There are plenty of great eco-friendly options on the market for you to explore. Here are our picks for the fastest, easiest, and least expensive ways to incorporate green design into your home.

Focus on Irrigation

When it comes to keeping plants and trees looking their best, homeowners in the D.C., area are lucky. Unlike those in other areas of the country, we get just enough rain to maintain a healthy home and garden. But, depending on your grass type and the slope of your lawn, irrigation is sometimes necessary.

If your home has a sprinkler or drip irrigation system, investing in a timer can reduce the amount of water you waste. Even better, it’ll save you hassle and money.

If you want to go the extra mile, install rain barrels at your downspouts. The rain that makes its way through your gutters is perfect for watering lawns and gardens. In some cases, collecting that water will also reduce puddles and erosion on your property.

All that moisture also brings plenty of weeds. When designing your garden, choose native plants and flowers that won’t require much water, and will crowd out the weeds. Mulching with organic mulch will also keep weeds at bay without using harmful herbicides.

Go Solar!

It’s old advice, but it gets more and more affordable every year. Solar panels offer a clean, effective, and accessible way to power your home. And while we’re certainly excited about Tesla’s breakthrough solar roofing, it’s hardly the only game in town. Today’s homeowner can also take advantage of solar energy by:

  • Buying or renting panels to install on their property.
  • Getting electricity in whole or in part from a solar farm.
  • Joining a community solar program.

If you’re anxious about taking a complete solar plunge all at once, consider testing the waters with a solar water heater. Easy to install and a snap to operate, water heaters are one of the simplest appliances to turn solar.

Perform an Energy Audit

Every property is unique. If you’re looking for ways to make your home more efficient, try a professional energy audit. For a few hundred dollars, you can hire an auditor to give you upgrade suggestions specific to your property.

Your auditor will locate air leaks, assess ventilation and insulation, and inspect your heating and cooling equipment. Though an audit costs a little upfront, it will save you money in the long run by showing where your remodeling dollars will go the farthest.

Upgrade Old Appliances

Your home’s appliances account for about 9% of your home’s energy bills. That number can go up depending on the age of your appliances are.

Few homeowners have the cash sitting around to switch out all their outdated kitchen and laundry room staples. That’s why it’s good to remember which swaps will give you the most bang for your buck. For electricity savings, refrigerators and clothes dryers are usually your best bets.

To conserve water, switch out your old washing machine. New Energy Star washers can use up to 75% less water than those produced 20 years ago!


Bob Pitkins is an environmental journalist who reports on sustainability efforts around the country. He enjoys trying out new vegan restaurants and visiting second-hand stores in every city he visits.

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