November 8, 2023
As climate change accelerates, homeowners face new challenges in protecting our homes and minimizing environmental impact. Adapting to these changes requires a combination of smart planning and innovative solutions. Following is a guide on how to prepare your home for climate change, from investing in alternative energy sources to creating a climate-proof house.
Understand the impacts of climate change on residential housing
Preparing for climate change starts with understanding the potential threats it poses to your home. Increased flooding, more frequent and severe storms, and extreme temperature fluctuations can damage residential properties. In 2022, 3.4 million Americans were displaced from their homes by natural disasters including wildfires, blizzards, and tornadoes – costing an estimated $165.1 billion in property damage.
Upgrade insulation and energy efficiency
Protecting your house from the effects of climate change requires a well-insulated and energy-efficient home. Proper insulation helps maintain comfortable indoor temperatures, reducing the need for heating and cooling while lowering energy bills. Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances and LED lighting can further minimize your home's energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Invest in solar panels
One of the most effective ways to prepare for climate change and reduce your home's carbon footprint is to invest in solar panels. Recent studies have shown solar panel installation costs have dropped significantly over the past decade. The average home can save between $20,000 and $97,000 over the lifetime of your solar panel system, depending on the cost of electricity in your area.
Explore alternative energy sources
In addition to solar panels, there are several other alternative energy sources that can help homeowners protect their house and combat climate change:
- Geothermal heat pumps: By utilizing the earth's consistent underground temperature, these systems provide heating and cooling for your home. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that homeowners can recoup installation costs within 5 to 10 years through energy savings.
- Small wind turbines: While not suitable for all homes, small-scale wind turbines can generate electricity for those in rural areas with ample wind resources. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that small wind electric systems can be a cost-effective option when combined with other renewable energy sources.
- Electric vehicles (EVs) and charging stations: Transitioning to an electric vehicle and installing a home charging station can further reduce your home's carbon footprint. Federal and state incentives are often available to offset the costs of EVs and charging infrastructure.
Conserve water and landscape responsibly
Implementing water-saving measures and responsible landscaping are additional ways to help climate change at home. Low-flow fixtures and rainwater collection systems conserve water resources and reduce the energy needed for water treatment and distribution. Planting trees and creating green spaces help absorb carbon dioxide and provide shade, reducing cooling costs during hot summer months.
Create a climate-proof house
Preparation for climate change involves making your home more resilient to extreme weather events, which can vary depending on where you live. Here are some ideas:
- Elevate your home: Raising your home above the base flood elevation can protect it from flooding in areas prone to rising sea levels and storm surges.
- Reinforce your roof: Installing hurricane straps or clips, sealing roof decks, and using wind-resistant shingles can help protect your home from high winds and storms.
- Install impact-resistant windows and doors: These products can withstand debris impacts and high winds, providing an added layer of protection for your home during severe weather events.
Think beyond your front door
How to help climate change at home extends beyond individual actions. Engaging with your community and advocating for climate-friendly policies can help create climate-resilient neighborhoods.
- Engage with your community: Consider joining local environmental groups, attending community meetings, or organizing neighborhood workshops to discuss strategies for adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change.
- Advocate for climate-friendly policies: You can play a crucial role in advocating for climate-friendly policies at the local, state, and national levels. Support policies that promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable infrastructure.
- Monitor progress and adjust: Keep track of your energy consumption, savings, and the effectiveness of your climate-proofing measures. Stay informed about new technologies and strategies that can further improve your home's resilience and reduce its environmental impact.
Fund climate-friendly investments
Wondering where to start? A home equity line of credit (HELOC) can be a great way to fund upgrades and improvements such as energy-efficient windows and doors or solar panels. By using a HELOC, you can make significant upgrades to your home while potentially increasing its property value and reducing its environmental impact. If you have equity in your house, you may qualify for a HELOC.
As you consider how to prepare your home for climate change, remember that every action, no matter how small, contributes to a larger, collective effort. Start today by evaluating your home's vulnerabilities, exploring alternative energy options, and taking the necessary steps to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. By working together, we can create a greener, more resilient future for all.