In our day and age, there are many things that are changing and they change fast. The only thing that hasn't changed though, is people's desire to save even a tiny bit more money. That desire has sparked dozens of ideas for greener alternatives to typical home amenities and over the years those money saving products and services have been nearly perfected, yielding maximum savings.
The first category is alternative lawns. The usual green grass that we see in the front of our neighbor's homes is a classic symbol of America, but it can cost a lot of money and resources to keep it healthy. With water getting scarcer and money tight, alternative lawns are becoming more and more popular. They can save you money, save tons of water every year, and still offer the aesthetics you are used to.
Gravel may not offer the same comfort as grass, but it can certainly be beautiful. Whether it's a Zen rock garden, or just some colored rocks, gravel can be a great alternative to grass. Since you don't need to water rocks, you won't be using water or money to keep it up and running. The only downside to gravel, however, is that proper weeding needs to be done or else it may start to look shabby. With a normal grass lawn you can avoid weeding for a few weeks and it won't be that noticeable, however with gravel, any sort of weed or unwanted plants will stick out like a sore thumb.
Turf isn't just for sports fields any more. Hundreds of homes across America have converted their lawn to this plastic alternative and have realized the savings almost immediately. Though it may cost a bit to have put in, turf will soon pay for itself in the savings you will obtain. It can also be pretty comfortable. Though it isn't nearly as comfortable actual grass, turf is much more comfortable than gravel or just dirt so it can still be used for outdoor activities.
Much like the idea of the gravel, a desert garden can be not only aesthetic, but very cost effective as well. Plants such as cactuses, desert flowers, and so on are used to not having that much water so the amount of watering you will have to do will be cut in half and your home will be just as beautiful as before. You can do arrangements of gravel and desert plants to make for a peaceful garden.
Alternative Heating Methods
Another way that you can cut down costs in your home is by finding alternative forms of heating it during the winter. Natural gas, or electricity - whichever system your home has - can add up during the winter months. So, to combat this and save you a little bit of money along the way, there are several different methods to try.
Wood burning stoves and Fireplaces
Wood burning stoves and fireplaces are an older form of heating, but will definitely cut down on your energy costs. As long as you have the apparatus in place and have access to the wood, then your home can be as cozy as a cabin in no time, all while saving you money!
Idaho is rich with geothermal energy, and it is a shame to let it go to waste. There are already several buildings downtown (the Capital Building being one of them) that have already harnessed the power of geothermal heating and you can to in your home. The way it works is like this: all the pressure underneath the earth's crust causes colossal amounts of heat which, in turn, heats the groundwater. This is the same thing that happens with geysers, however, the hot ground water in our area doesn't shoot out of the ground. Instead, it can be pumped up into your home and the heat can then be used to keep your home warm.
This method of heating is preferred by many for several reasons. For instance, it is less expensive to operate, it costs less each month, and it is better for the environment. Instead of burning natural gas or using electricity to heat your homes, you can use the natural heat that is below.
Alternative Power Sources
Alternative power sources have been a hot topic for the last few years, and they are definitely starting to pick up steam. These can not only save you money on your monthly bills, but if done correctly, can even make you money as well. This is because if your alternative energy source produces more energy than you need, it will send it back into the system and the power company buys it from you.
Probably the most popular form of alternative energy, solar power is a technology that has made great strides over the past few years. There are now companies in almost every city that can install a solar panel and wire it to your home, and in many cases - like Boise's - there are more than a few of them. Putting them on your home, however, can cost quite a bit as the equipment and labor required is expensive. Even so, they will pay themselves off quickly.
Wind power is something that hasn't caught on in the residential market just yet. Mainly it is being used by governments and private entities. However, there are still ways that you can harness the energy of the wind to power your home. It may be hard to find one that will look good in your backyard, but they will save you money if you get a good and consistent breeze.
So, there you have it: home alternatives that can save you a little extra cash. There are more ideas out there though. Not to mention there even whole companies that are devoted to making homes more efficient. Whatever you decide to do though, be sure to follow any and all safety protocols and to consult with a professional before you begin any sort of construction or installation.