4 Green Home Improvements That Will Pay Off in 10+ Years

Going green is all the rage – and not without reason. Sustainability projects at your home can save you a significant amount of money, as well as reduce your home’s environmental impact. Some green home improvements are simple projects. If you plant a vegetable garden, it can start growing produce in its first season, saving you a lot of time and money at the grocery store. Other projects take more investment and time, but the savings you reap can be significant.

Here are four green home improvements that you can expect to pay off down the road. 

Solar Panels

Solar panels use the sun’s energy to power your home. As more and more businesses and homes are adding this alternative energy option, costs are dropping. Over the past year, solar prices dipped 19 percent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. While solar may not be as expensive as it once was, adding panels to your house still represents a significant investment.

Once you invest in installation, the system begins to pay for itself. All you have to do is pay for any additional electricity the panels can’t provide. On average, solar panels meet 84 percent of energy needs, according to Energy Sage. Depending on where you live, your savings can reach well over $20,000 in two decades. For example, Energy Sage puts the average 20-year savings for a California home at $28,360. Look for tax rebates to help you find even more savings.

It is also important to note that solar panels also positively impact the resale value of homes. Whether you want to move in one year or 10, this feature is attractive to prospective homebuyers. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and several partner organizations conducted a study to find out just how much solar panels affect home sales. The study found that homebuyers are willing to pay significantly more for houses with their own solar systems. 

Cool Roofing


If you live somewhere with a warm summer season, your roof is likely contributing to your high electricity bill. The typical roof will reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, but a cool roof can reduce those temperatures by 50 degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This dramatic reduction in heat means the interior of your room is cooler during those unbearably hot months. You don’t need the air conditioning as much, translating into utility savings.

Reflective surfaces and heat-absorbing layers give cool roofs an edge over the average roof. The cost of redoing the roof of your home is an investment, and opting for a cool roof will be slightly more expensive. But, savings will start to accrue. The Cool Roof Rating Council estimates that cool roofs save 7 percent to 15 percent on annual cooling costs. That adds up every year, resulting in significant saving at the 10-year mark and beyond. Cool roofs, like solar panels, might make you eligible for tax rebates as well.

Tankless Water Heater


Heating the water in your home is a big energy expense. You can always opt to limit the number of hot showers and baths you take, or only run the dishwasher every other day. But, those saving methods can only go so far. Tankless water heaters offer a more efficient alternative that gives you the advantage of savings over traditional water heating systems.

It costs approximately $4,200 to install a tankless water heater in a 2,200-square-foot home, according to CBS News. The increased efficiency of this system means you’ll save about a fifth of your annual water heating bill, according to the same CBS News report. You can also look for tax rebates. Over time, a tankless water heater will recoup your investment and save you money on your water heating costs.

Window and Door Replacement


Energy-efficient windows and doors help you keep warm air inside during the winter and cool air inside during the summer. This efficient insulation helps keep your energy costs down. You won’t keep cranking up the air conditioning or heat simply because all the cool or warm air is escaping through your doors and windows. The right windows can also help you reduce the amount you spend on lighting your home by letting in plenty of natural sunshine.

Completely replacing the windows in your home can be as expensive as $8,000 to $24,000, according to the Chicago Tribune. This means energy-efficient windows and doors are a green home improvement with a long-term payoff. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the installation of storm windows can reduce energy bills by $350 per year.  

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