10 Green Home Improvements Under $50

By , About.com Contributing Writer
Faucet aerator

Not every renovation project encompasses your whole house—or even a whole room— and it’s not necessary to budget thousands of dollars to start making your home more green. In fact, there are several small improvements you can make that cost less than a night on the town or a quick trip to the grocery store. Make one or several of these inexpensive green home improvements and you’ll be sure to see a quick return on your investment.

  1. Weatherstrip your front door. This simple DIY fix will cut down on unnecessary drafts and air leaks around the frames of your exterior doors. Buy a cheap roll of felt, rubber or vinyl weatherstripping and you can install it yourself in a matter of minutes.
  2. Install a programmable thermostat. These handy gadgets allow you to set the temperature and forget about it while cutting down on your energy costs. The concept is simple: regulate the temperature when you’re asleep and when you’re not at home. You’ll stay comfortable without conditioning an unoccupied home.
  3. Buy a faucet aerator. There’s no need to send all that extra water down the drain. If your faucet flow is rated higher than 2.5 gallons per minute, screw in an aerator. This little device mixes air into the the stream of water, cutting down on waste and splashing.
  4. Slow your showerhead’s flow. Another way to cut back on your water use is to reduce the flow from your showerhead. Again, aim for less than 2.5 gallons per minute, but you can purchase heads that go as low as one gallon per minute. Imagine the savings!
  5. Change your furnace filter. Over time, it can get clogged with dust and other particles, forcing your furnace to work that much harder. Some people say you should change your filter every month during the heating season, while others feel that every three months is adequate. Check yours often and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  6. Conduct a DIY home energy audit. Although professional energy audits can run you several hundreds of dollars, you can conduct your own for practically free. An audit pinpoints the major energy-losing culprits in your home and helps you budget for future renovations.
  7. Caulk your windows. Set aside a couple of hours one weekend and load up your caulk gun. Seal around your windows and any other penetrations in the exterior of your house, such as wires and pipes. There’s no need to heat the outdoors, too.
  8. Add a ceiling fan. Although fans can cost a lot more than $50, it’s definitely possible to buy a basic model on the cheap. Install a ceiling fan in your bedroom or living room and use it instead of or in addition to your air conditioner.
  9. Insulate your pipes. Look at the pipes under your bathroom sink and those extending from your hot water heater. Naked pipes release a lot of heat, functioning almost like radiators. Invest in some cheap pipe sleeves, which you can attach yourself in no time.
  10. Dim the lights. Overhead lighting can be a little harsh, and installing a dimmer on your fixture allows you to create mood lighting while cutting down on your electricity bill. So, add a little ambience and simulateously save the environment.

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