Steve Estrada April 22, 2021 at 10:49 AM

Green your home and your wallet

The other day, my friend and I discussed ways we could increase our use of green, or renewable, energy. With all the talk about helping protect the environment, I thought, “If I purchase energy efficiency appliances and make a few home improvements, I could help save the planet!”  

I decided to do a little research on just how much I could save by making changes around my house. You’ll see below what I found out.

I also told my friend about Green Energy Loans from SAFE Credit Union that homeowners can use on projects to increase their home’s energy efficiency through installing solar and new HVAC systems, purchasing new appliances and windows, and other repairs and upgrades. These loans have competitive rates and flexible repayment terms.

Green living is the way to be

Purchasing Energy StarTM appliances can save you money over time. Today, energy-efficient appliances are no longer significantly more expensive than appliances without the Energy Star certification.

Making a few minor upgrades and repairs around the house and adopting new behaviors may let you save almost $3,149 a year. Here’s how that adds up, according to

Item Potential Annual Savings
Space heating (heating certain rooms only at specific times) $593
Air conditioning – energy efficient $237
Refrigerators – energy efficient $153
Energy efficient lighting and electricity $827
Seal air leaks to save on heating and cooling bills $166
Turn off power strips for electronic equipment when not in use $100
Install low-flush or WaterSense toilets $265
Turn down thermostat in winter and up in summer by 7-10 degrees $200
Weatherstrip windows $83
Use LED or other energy efficient light bulbs $100
Lower temperature on hot water heater $60
Insulate hot water heater tank $45
Repair leaky faucets $100
Use sleep-mode and power-saving options on your computer $120
Insulate hot water pipes $100
Total annual savings $3149


What light through yonder window breaks?

It is sunlight, and it can power your house and save you money!

Solar may reduce your dependency on fossil fuels for electricity and may result in significant utility savings over time. It can also increase your property value by 4% -- which translates to about $18,000 in Sacramento County, based on the January 2021 average home price, according to

However, installing a solar system on your home may require a large capital outlay. According to, a starter, 6-kilowatt solar system in California costs between $16,740 and $19,260. Ten-kilowatt systems range in price from $24,100 to $32,100. According to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), the average household uses 750 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month and pays $173 an month for electric and gas utility costs. At that rate, it could take you between 10 and 15 years to recoup the costs of installing a solar system. The average life of a solar system is about 25-30 years, according to

To offset installation costs, consult your tax advisor to learn about tax rebates that may be available in your area. Some tax credits include:

  • Federal tax credit until December 31, 2021 ( of 22% for solar systems installed in 2021.
  • SMUD offers a $300 incentive for residential solar installations.

Adopting green habits, purchasing energy efficient appliances, and making a few simple upgrades and repairs could help make up for some of the initial outlay of the solar system installation. Solar providers may also provide additional offers to reduce the initial installation cost or offer payment plans.

To green or not to green

Adapting energy saving habits and adding solar to your property could provide you substantial cost savings in the long run. You may want to assess the overall costs to see how these changes could financially benefit you. Utility companies like SMUD and PG&E offer resources to help you get started.

Learn more about how SAFE can help you fund these home improvement projects with a Green Energy Loan.


Steve Estrada

Steve Estrada is a marketing professional with 10-plus years of marketing experience, primarily in the financial services industry. He obtained his BA from UCLA and his MBA in Marketing from Fordham University.