Can I Make My Home ‘Green’ On a Budget?

By  //  August 26, 2017

paying the upfront costs can be daunting

When you think of green living and ways you can make your home more environmentally friendly, chances are you immediately start thinking of expensive items like solar panels, recycled gray water, cisterns and other expensive additions.

When you think of green living and ways you can make your home more environmentally friendly, chances are you immediately start thinking of expensive items like solar panels, recycled gray water, cisterns and other expensive additions.

While the savings from these kinds of home improvements can eventually pay for themselves, paying the upfront costs can be daunting. There are options, though, which we will get to in a bit.

For homeowners not ready to bite off such big projects, good news: You don’t have to spend a fortune and go completely off the grid to make your home greener and make your carbon footprint a bit smaller.

There are some simple, inexpensive changes you can make that can really add up to big savings for you and for the environment.

Go Greener, a Little at a Time

If you’d like to be environmentally conscious and save money at the same time, here are some tips to get you started.

1. Start a Compost Pile/Bin

You don’t have to go out and buy a fancy recycling bin in order to put your food scraps and yard waste to good use. There are many simple DIY approaches to composting that don’t require a lot of skills or tools (you can actually start composting directly on the ground).

Chances are you can knock out a new compost enclosure in one day all by yourself. For inspiration, you can check out some of these ideas for building your own compost bin.

2. Update Your Insulation/Window & Door Seals

The reduction you see in your utility bills will be all the thanks you need for taking on this relatively low-cost, green improvement, but it’s nice to know you’re reducing your carbon footprint at the same time. As with any home improvements, if you aren’t doing it yourself, it’s a good idea to find a reputable service to do the job properly.

3. Go Low-Flow

If you aren’t already using low-flow showerheads and toilets, this can be the perfect way to cut back on your water usage without changing your day-to-day habits. According to, residential showers account for almost 17% of indoor water use, and toilets 30%. By EPA estimates, using low-flow showerheads and toilets can cut water use between 20% and 60% for a typical family. Of course, that also means reduced water bills.

4. Air-Dry Your Laundry

Drying your laundry outdoors or on a drying rack can reduce your energy use, plus reduce wear and tear on your dryer and your clothes. And you can’t get that line-dried fresh smell anywhere else.

Finance Major Green Home Renovation

If you’re feeling that it’s time to significantly lighten your footprint, but you’re not sure how to finance tens-of-thousands of dollars for eco-friendly materials, solar panels, wind turbines, new windows, etc., never fear — you have options.

Home Improvement Loans

You can get a home improvement loan. These usually fall into two categories: installment loans and revolving loans.

With installment loans, borrowers get a lump sum upfront and make monthly payments until the loan is paid in full.

With a revolving loan (also called a line of credit), borrowers take out only the amount they need from the pre-set credit limit. They can continue to borrow as needed while making payments on the amount of money used.

Both of these types of loans can be secured or unsecured. Secured loans typically require borrowers to use their homes as collateral. That means they also must have that much equity in their home to borrow against. So, if you haven’t owned your home for long, or if it hasn’t appreciated in value, a loan against your equity might not be an option.

Mortgage Refinancing

You can also consider refinancing your mortgage. Lots of folks use their home equity this way to finance a remodeling project. If your home’s value has increased sufficiently, you can refinance in order to cash out this extra amount.

Credit Cards

To finance smaller projects, consider using a credit card. A 0% introductory rate credit card can be a good choice in this situation because it gives you several months — sometimes up to 18 months — to pay your balance without accruing interest charges. One such example is the Home Depot Credit Card, which is aimed to help owners finance their home improvement projects.


Constance is an editor and writer at Prior to joining us, she worked as an editor for, senior digital producer for CNBC, and digital producer for NBC Nightly News. She also is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York, has worked for chefs such as April Bloomfield and Jean Georges Vongerichten, and is the founder of Crave Personal Chef Services in Austin, Texas.