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Net-zero Homes Are the Best Way to Save on Money and the Planet

Saving the Earth may seem like a difficult and expensive endeavor, but what if you can do it through your own home and save thousands of dollars while you’re at it? Going Net-Zero can eliminate your home’s carbon footprint, and most upgrades to achieve it arepractically free.

Make Use of Available Light
Lighting is a big part of every home, and most families will keep indoor lights on even during the daytime. A roof with skylights eliminates the need for artificial/electrical lighting, using sunlight to light the house. Lighting accounts for 10 to 20 percent of a home’s power consumption. Cutting it down during the day can reduce your electric bills by 5 to 10 percent or around $7 to $15 a month.

You can install skylights on your own for around $200, or you can get experts to do it for you for around $500 to $2,000. The savings might seem paltry, but they can add up to almost $200 a year. Skylights can also get extremely bright, but the natural intensity of the sun can fire up your biological clock and reset it so you can sleep better. Opt for UV-shielding skylights, as you don’t want to get fried by UV radiation in your own home.

Use the Earth for Heating
Heat pumps are becoming quite popular in states like Florida, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. These geothermal systems draw heat to or from the earth, using the changes in temperature to heat or cool your house. Geothermal systems are easy to set up, requiring very little space in your backyard.

proper heat pump can eliminate your home’s need for air conditioning and heating, effectively cutting your power consumption by 50 percent. Heat pumps can cost around $2,000 to $4,000 to set up, and they typically pay for themselves in savings on your electric bills in four to eight years. Heat pumps can last more than 50 years with minimal maintenance, providing you with a steady savings of $50 or more each month during their lifetime.

Insulate Your Roof
If you’re not planning on any long-term investments in your home, just insulating your roof can cut your power consumption by up to 30 percent. Heat transfer mostly occurs through your home’s roof, so a bit of strategic insulation in your attic can make a big difference.

Insulating your roof can cost around $1,500 to $2,000, but you can cut the cost by $200 to $300 if you do it on your own. Insulation can last longer than your lifetime (80 to 100 years unless damaged), providing savings of around $20 to $40 a month for the rest of your days.

Get the Latest Appliances
Switching to newer appliances can be expensive. However, if you’re planning to buy new ones soon, make sure to opt for Energy Star labeled appliances. The Energy Star program (governed by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy) awards its labels to energy-efficient products, as well as an energy rating detailing their power consumption.

Energy Star labels are essential for air conditioning units, refrigerators, freezers, and washers. Energy-efficient appliances can cut your home’s power consumption by up to 30 percent.

Opt for Solar Power
Solar power has become so inexpensive; they are practically free. Improvements in technology and modern market forces have brought down prices significantly compared to the early days of residential solar power in the 80s. Prices have dropped by 80 percent compared to 80s prices. Today, a 10-kW system that can power a three-bedroom home only costs around $8,000 to $10,000.

The initial cost might seem daunting, but even with a ten-year loan (at 3 to 4 percent interest), the savings on your electric bill should be enough to cover the cost of your monthly premiums. Solar power systems pay for themselves in eight to 12 years, and they can operate for another 30 years after you’re done paying for them.

Pair Solar With an Electric Car
30 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the US are caused by people driving on the road. Electric vehicles (EVs) are a good option, but not in the US. More than 65 percent of the nation’s power production comes from burning fossil fuels. Charging an EV in the US still releases greenhouse gases, with just a few extra steps in between.

However, if your house is running on a solar power system, you effectively charge your car without tapping on the grid’s energy supply. You’ll be shelling out a few extra dollars for an EV, but you’ll be saving around $2,000 on fuel every year.

An energy-efficient home is practical for both the environment and your finances. Make a few upgrades to your home and save a bit of money while you’re doing your part to save the Earth.

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