5 Green & Cheap Home Improvement Ideas

By Hermela Hailemariam

A BROWN’S HARDWARE EMPLOYEE shows off an environmentally-friendly LED lightbulb at the Falls Church store. (Photo: News-Press)
A BROWN’S HARDWARE EMPLOYEE shows off an environmentally-friendly LED lightbulb at the Falls Church store. (Photo: News-Press)

Over the past decade or so homeowners have been renovating their homes and installing new features to make houses more environmentally friendly. Some of these fixes and updates, like green roofs or recycled water systems, are costly. “People are always looking for ways to save money when buying things to [improve] their homes…the small changes in your home are what can end up saving you a lot of money,” said Meron Ferenju, an employee at The Home Depot in Seven Corners.

Don’t have money to undertake those large-scale green home improvement projects? Here are five eco-friendly home improvement projects that cost less than $100:

1. CFL & LED Light Bulbs

Incandescent light bulbs are the standard and, even though there have been alternatives for over a decade now, people use them because they’re cheaper upfront than compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and LED bulbs. But Larry Gutierrez, an employee at Brown’s Hardware in the City of Falls Church, says that the alternatives, CFL and LED light bulbs, are higher quality and cost less in the long run than incandescent bulbs.

Gutierrez has tried all three in his home and prefers the CFL and LED. “[LED lights] are expensive, but supposedly, they’re going to pay for themselves,” Gutierrez said. The CFL light bulbs (swirl like bulbs) can perform as well as incandescent while using less energy and have the ability to last up to nine years with three hours or less of constant use every day. Although, if you’re always in and out of the house, CFL lights have a tendency to burn out quicker if they are frequently turned off and on. LED lights, however, can handle that type of usage. Compared to incandescent bulbs, CFLs and LEDs produce 75% less heat and 85% less heat, respectively. This is good for the environment as it conserves energy with the added bonus of saving you money.

Price: $15.57 for a 12 pack of CFL light bulbs at The Home Depot. $3.79 per CFL light bulb at Brown’s Hardware. $59.99 for a 3 pack of LED light bulbs at The Home Depot. $21.99 per LED light bulb at Brown’s Hardware.

2. Faucet Filters

If you buy bottled water on a regular basis, a good way to save money as well as help the environment is to use a filter for your faucet. In tandem with reusable water bottles or cups, a faucet filter can reduce the amount of plastic water bottles used around the house and in turn reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the environment. The price of a filter might be more than the price of a bottle of water at first, but the filter can pay for itself within weeks.

Price: $24.97 at The Home Depot. $28.99 at Target.

3. No or Low-VOC paints

If you plan on repainting or designing your walls, no– or low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints are an environmentally-friendly alternative to the traditional paints you’re used to buying. The “green” paints release no or low amounts of toxic compounds into the environment, unlike traditional paint. Also, if you have infants or small children in your home, no– or low-VOC paint is much better for their health and breathing.

Price: $16.98 each at The Home Depot. $24.99 each at Target.

4. Planting

Gardens can absorb rainfall and keep the area around your house less damp during storms or floods. Also, growing fruits and vegetables in your garden can not only help you save at the grocery store but can also reduce demand for non-locally grown produce. Keeping a garden is also good for the environment around your home, as it will release fresh air and reduce pollution around your home.

Price: $2.98 for beefsteak tomato seeds or $12.98 for organic fertilizer at the Home Depot. $2.19 for tomatoes at Brown’s Hardware.

5. Wired Sprinklers

If you have a lawn or a garden that require frequent watering, installing a wired sprinkler is a cheap way to save money and help the environment. Wired sprinklers can sense the rain and turn off so that only the rain will water the lawn or garden. This helps with conserving water, which is good for your pocketbook and the environment.

Price: $21.72 at The Home Depot. $22.79 at Lowes.