Saving Green by Going Green

Nest Smart Thermostat

Nest Smart Thermostat

Recently I’ve had several conversations with my TC neighbors about the possibility of making their houses more energy efficient.  From new windows to solar panels, the upfront expense of doing these projects can certainly tug at your pocket, but will they be worth it and add value to their houses?  It is hard to think through the initial costs of some of the projects even if those improvements will end up saving you substantial amounts of money in the long run, not to mention saving some natural resources!

With that in mind, here are some ideas regarding costs versus the savings on some of the most popular ways to go green.  All of these are specifically for your house- from simple repairs to major renovations.

A programmable thermostat could be a quick fix for a little less money spent up front, with the initial cost between $100-$300 for a savings of around $175 or more each year.  Unless you are home all day long and need the AC running, you can program the thermostat to run only when you will appreciate the cooler temperature instead of walking in to an igloo in July. Popular “smart” thermostats by Nest and Honeywell offer cool features such as learning what temperatures you like, turns itself down when you’re away and can be controlled from anywhere over Wi-Fi.

Changing the light bulbs to the eco-friendly florescent bulbs for around $6.00 per bulb will end up saving you $45-$135 over the life of the bulb.  That may seem like pennies up front, but the Millionaire Next Door didn’t gain his wealth by spending money on lighting.

If you are considering new appliances around the house, consider the energy star appliances.  The cost, as well as the potential savings, varies by appliance. A new appliance such as a fridge could save you hundreds per year.

Windows are normally responsible for up to 40% of the energy consumed by buildings, homes included.  High thermal performance windows are four times more efficient than coated double pane windows.  During winter in Texas (also known as February), and the direct sunlight blasting in to your house over a long blistering Texas summer, energy efficient windows will not only save you money on your electricity bill, will comfort you both mentally and fiscally.

Solar Panels are a biggie upfront cost, ranging between $4,500-$12,000, but the instant gratification you receive from your energy bill of up to 60% savings would be worth it.

Austin Energy offers rebates for everything from appliance upgrades, solar panels, air conditioners, water heaters and more. Check their website for current rebate offers at

No matter the initial price tag, these are all cost effective ways to go green because of the significant return you will see on the Earth and on your checkbook.  So, in my way of thinking, going green to save some green is worth the investment!