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Going Green: How Americans Are Making Their Homes Eco-friendly

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Key Takeaways

  • Americans have saved an average of $20 on their monthly energy bill by unplugging appliances not in use.
  • Americans who upgrade their aging appliances can save an average of $1,300 on their annual energy costs.
  • Americans are willing to spend an additional $50,000 over budget for an eco-home: an environmentally low-impact home designed and built using materials and technology that reduces its carbon footprint and energy needs.
  • Solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and high-efficiency HVAC systems are the most desired green features in an eco-home.

Helping Our Planet While Saving Money

Americans are going green for lots of reasons. Concerns about climate change aren’t likely to lessen any time soon. And with energy costs skyrocketing for households across the U.S., many are looking for ways to reduce their reliance on energy providers. The good news is that these problems intersect; many behaviors that benefit our environment can also reduce energy costs.

To explore how people are making eco-friendly home adjustments, we surveyed 1,000 Americans and examined their energy use and spending. Our results offer a glimpse into the sustainability of the typical household, plus tips for greening your home and lifestyle.

Transitioning to a Greener World

First, we gauged how respondents felt about making eco-friendly changes and asked what they’ve done to reduce their impact on the environment. Is it easier for some than others?

Reducing energy impact
Reducing energy impact

According to our survey, most Americans care about sustainability: 75% said they do their best to live an environmentally-conscious lifestyle. For 1 in 4 respondents, that has meant changing their buying habits to avoid supporting brands that aren’t eco-friendly.

Sometimes, that involves spending a little more money, which Gen X may be more willing to do than others. Of our participants, the Gen Xers invested more than anyone else to support their eco-conscious lifestyles.

Nearly three-quarters have improved their eco-friendly shopping habits to avoid brands that use non-recyclable materials (74%). Slightly fewer did so to avoid supporting the use of non-biodegradable materials (64%). The latter may be better for the planet since recycling plastic has become increasingly harder. Despite best efforts to keep it out of municipal waste channels, much of it ends up in landfills.

In addition to recycling, switching to paperless billing was another top way our respondents have reduced their carbon footprints at home. Many have also begun turning off lights when not in use, which also reduces energy bills. These simple (and free) changes contradict the sentiments of 60% who said eco-friendly home improvements are only for high-income homeowners — a myth we’re about to dispel completely.

Reducing Energy Costs

Americans have been struggling with high energy bills lately. But while it may seem like the most sustainable options on store shelves cost more than their conventional counterparts, some eco-conscious changes can actually reduce your energy costs. We’ll tell you how.

Saving power and money on energy.
Saving power and money on energy.

Let’s start with the hard truth: Americans spend an average of $1,680 each year on energy costs. And unfortunately, more than half of those we surveyed told us their energy bills have increased over the past year. But the good news is that some respondents have reduced their energy spending by upgrading to Energy Star appliances, and you can, too. Based on our research, Americans who upgrade their aging appliances can save an average of $1,300 on their annual energy costs.

If you think you can’t afford to buy new appliances, find out if your local city, state, or even federal government offers tax credits for these upgrades. Combined with the money you could save each year by using less energy, that could make them well worth the investment.

Otherwise, consider unplugging appliances while you’re not using them — a method that has saved our respondents an average of $20 in monthly energy costs. Ever heard of the dreaded vampire energy? If not, you’re not alone; neither have 65% of the Americans we polled. It’s the term coined for the standby power consumed by plugged-in devices even after they’re turned off. That energy isn’t free — not to you, nor to the environment.

Aside from unplugging appliances when possible (a habit that may not come easily) or upgrading them (which can come with hefty up-front price tags), let’s go over some more accessible ways Americans are going green at home.

Changes, Big and Small

No matter the size of your budget, there’s a way for you to live more eco-consciously and save money in the long run. Here are some tips we’ve gleaned from our survey for making your home more energy efficient.

Top sustainability changes.
Top sustainability changes.

You can make plenty of affordable adjustments for a greener home. Some are as low-cost as changing a lightbulb (or better yet: all of them). Switching to LED light bulbs was the most common change our respondents made to reduce their energy costs.

Getting rid of incandescent lights and other top changes made at home — including shorter showers, appliance upgrades, washing clothes in cold water, and fixing faucet leaks — have saved homeowners an average of $320 per year on their energy bills. It’s no wonder nearly 30% of our participants said they want an eco-home.

But most have their sights set on even greater savings; 83% of those we surveyed said they’d like to install solar panels, which can cut an energy bill in half. Other pricier upgrades that many respondents looked forward to making were energy-efficient appliances (74%) and high-efficiency HVAC systems (67%). Considering the low energy costs of these features, they said they’d go $50,000 over budget to buy an eco-home if they were in the market for a house.

Where the Planet’s Health Meets That of Your Wallet

Sustainable living doesn’t have to cost a lot. But when it does, it’s often worth the investment. It might cost a little more for you to support brands that use eco-friendly packaging that won’t clog up a landfill but think of the difference it can make for our planet over a lifetime. No matter the cost of the changes you make for a greener home and lifestyle, it all makes a difference, both for your wallet and the environment.


We surveyed 1,000 Americans regarding their approach to living more sustainability and creating a more eco-conscious home. The mean age of respondents was 41 years old. Among them, 47% were male, 52% were female, and 1% were nonbinary. Respondents comprised the following generational breakdown: 13% Gen Z, 53% millennials, 28% Gen X, and 13% baby boomers. The appliance comparison asset data was collected from the official Energy Star site and calculated using the average energy cost according to EIA’s electricity profile data.

To determine the potential annual energy cost savings of replacing aging appliances, we asked respondents which appliances had the most significant reduction on their energy bill and the resulting dollar amount they saved. We then calculated annual savings using the average sum of the monthly savings.

About Payless Power

Greener living doesn’t have to cost a lot, and neither does your home’s energy. Payless Power offers low-cost electricity to fit your budget.

Fair Use Statement

If you learned some handy sustainability tips from our study, you’re welcome to share this article for any noncommercial purposes. We just ask that you include the link in doing so.

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