by Tip Hero Dennis Hung
Eco-friendly can also mean budget-friendly. A recent study in California showed that on average, $10,000 is spent on building a home that is environmentally friendly. This translated into an increased home price of 34,000. Homeowners do not seem to mind. In something known as the “Prius effect,” owners of hybrid cars are more likely to be willing to pay a premium price for green homes. A separate study showed that the population is willing to spend an average of $5,000 more for an energy efficient house. Here is a look at seven eco-friendly features that actually pay for themselves.

1. Low-Flow Shower Head

Low flow shower heads help you regulate the temperature and flow of your water automatically. The water has a low flow and steadily approaches a temperature of 95 degrees. Once that temperature is reached, the water slows down to a trickle. You have the option to pull a cord attached to the shower head to resume its regular rate of flow.

2. Programmable Thermostat

More than 40 percent of your energy bill goes towards heating and cooling. A programmable thermostat can automatically raise or lower your homes temperatures to levels that lower your energy costs. When you use a programmable thermostat, it is in use only when you are inside your home. Program it to trigger when you wake up, stay idle while you are away at work, and kick in again once you get home. The EPA estimates that a properly used programmable thermostat can save you up to $180 per year. It is estimated that most units will pay for themselves within about half a year

3. Insulation

The insulation in your walls helps keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Upgrading the insulation in your exterior walls is a worthwhile investment as it can save you from $30 to $35 on your energy bill. For the average home, undertaking this project will run about $4,000. It is estimated that most homeowners can recoup this amount or more in energy savings within three years.

4. Solar for Electricity

Using a system that converts solar energy into electricity is believed to be one of the most sound green investments a homeowner can make. Although they can cost from $10,000 to $50,000 to install, they are becoming more and more affordable thanks to federal rebates, grants and tax incentives. They can save you an estimated $1200 per year and can pay for themselves within 10 years.

5. Low Flow Toilets

About three cents of every dollar you spend on water is used in your toilet. If you have an older toilet, you might be wasting a lot of money. Getting a low flush toilet will save you about $155 per year and, at around $100 apiece, these toilets can pay for themselves in under a year.

6. Energy-Efficient Furnace

Most traditional furnaces are about 50 to 78 percent efficient, meaning that they can convert roughly these percentages of gas into usable heat energy. An energy-efficient furnace, such as a gas-forced air condensing unit, is up to 90 percent efficient. An energy-efficient furnace can shave up to $590 off your heating bill annually. Purchasing and installing an energy efficient furnace usually runs about $4000 to $5000, so most units will have paid for themselves within five to seven-and-a-half years. This makes the energy efficient furnace a worthwhile investment for any home. And with furnace fires being the #2 cause for homes burning down, replacing your worn down furnace could save you much more than just your money.

7. WiFi Sprinkler Controller

An automated sprinkler system potentially wastes a great deal of water when left to its own devices. A wifi sprinkler controller puts the system control back in your hands via your mobile device. The system automatically regulates water usage according to a schedule to reduce waste, saving you water and money. The wifi controller determines exactly how much water you need and never runs while it’s raining.