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Going ‘Green’: Environmentally-Friendly Ways to Improve One’s House

When looking into improving and/or renovating one’s house, there are many factors to be considered, such as design and cost. However, thinking of “environmentally-friendly” ways for improvement/renovation can also be important for homeowners. 

Whether on the inside or outside, there are various ways homeowners can implement sustainable solutions that not only benefit their house, but also the planet.  

In recent years, the use of solar panels has become a more-recognized way to provide power to one’s house. These panels have cells that absorb photons from the sunlight, which creates an electric field and causes electricity to flow. According to an article by the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, solar panels are built to “work in all climates” and can be placed on one’s roof; preferably south-facing with a slope of “15 and 40 degrees.” 

One common concern about installing solar panels is the cost, which can be about $12,000, according to a March 9th article by Consumer Affairs. However, these panels can save homeowners $1,500 a year on electricity compared to standard electric power.  

A rain garden is one of many ways someone can improve their homes environmentally, as it can save water by using repurposed rainfall to nourish plants. (Photo:

For homeowners who may want to add more windows to enjoy the spring sun, double-pane windows can reduce the amount of escaped heat up to 50 percent. Also referred to as “insulated window glazing,” double-pane windows can help keep cold air out in the winter and heat out in the summer. 

To add an extra environmentally-friendly touch to double-pane windows, one can also use sustainable frames, such as composite wood products and fiberglass, to give a better thermal performance. 

Repainting one’s walls or choosing a new wallpaper is a standard improvement a homeowner considers when thinking about home renovations. Luckily, there are businesses that offer eco-friendly paints and wallpapers, such as Backdrop, Clare Paint and Spoonflower. The advantages of using eco-friendly paint and wallpapers are the lower levels of VOCs — volatile organic compounds emitted as gasses from certain solids and liquids — and reduces indoor air pollution produced by toxins from some standard paints/wallpapers.

If a homeowner is considering the best lighting options for their house, LED light bulbs are the more energy efficient option. According to an article by, good quality LED bulbs can “last more than 30 times longer” than other light bulbs. 

Another advantage of using LED bulbs is that they “generally” produce a low level of carbon dioxide gas compared to incandescent lights. This is due to the material used to create these LED lights not being able to produce carbon dioxide gas compared to other lights. 

Installing low-flow appliances, such as a shower head or toilet, can significantly reduce water use. According to a June 2022 article in House Beautiful magazine, standard toilets use up to seven gallons of water per flush, while low-flow toilets only use 1.6 gallons. Low-flow shower heads also decrease water consumption by “at least 40 percent.”

Growing a garden can be a fun way for a homeowner to spruce up the outside of their house, as well as be environmentally friendly. Gardening with native plants — a plant that occurred naturally in a particular region without human introduction — can require less maintenance and water. They help the environment the most when planted in places that match their growing requirements. 

If one is unsure what to plant, resources such as Native Plant Landscape Design Corp in Falls Church can help a homeowner decide what native plants to choose based on the climate of their region.  

To help care for one’s garden and backyard, the use of a rain barrel or garden can save water by using repurposed rainfall to nourish plants instead. According to the same House Beautiful article, rainwater contains more of the nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide plants flourish with. 

Recently, the Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS) announced grants to city residents for rain barrel and garden projects to reduce potentially-damaging stormwater. VPIS Board Member Jeffrey Peterson said rain barrels and gardens can prevent pollution in local streams and reduce flooding in the area. He also said a homeowner can have an “improved” landscape with these projects as it causes less water ponding in one’s own backyard.