5 DIY eco-friendly projects for spring

With the warmer weather and new growth in the spring comes the urge for many homeowners to spruce up their properties. Spring is also a great time of year to consider making some eco-friendly changes to your home that can help make it healthier for you and the environment, while also lowering some of your energy bills.

Going green around the house doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. Try one of these five simple projects, or do them all in one weekend! We've included the estimated cost of each for you.

1) Make a mini-greenhouse.

Plants help clean the air in your home, filtering it and making it healthier to breathe. At the same time, growing your own plants, including fruits and vegetables, helps keep your grocery costs low, while eliminating a lot of the transport and other carbon footprint-adding attributes of purchasing produce from a store.

Even if you don’t have room in your yard for a garden, you can still grow your own produce at home with a hydroponic system. Hydroponic gardens use fertilizer and water to grow your herbs and vegetables, take up very little space, and can enable you to get great results from anywhere in your home, even those areas that don’t get a lot of sun.


An initial setup kit including seeds, fertilizer and a grow light costs $150–$250 at most home improvement or big box stores.

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Easy-to-use kits, like those made by AeroGarden and EcoGrower, use little electricity and produce abundant plant life.

2) Install energy-saving light bulbs.

Light bulbs are something you use every day. And if you haven’t made the switch to an energy-saving bulb yet, you could be paying a lot more each month on your electric bills than you would be with one simple switch.

LED and CFL light bulbs use about 25 to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents. They also last years longer, so while the initial cost of the bulbs may be higher, you’ll be saving a lot of money in the years to come. Both LED and CFL bulbs come in a range of colors and wattages. Consider trying some daylight or full-spectrum bulbs, which mimic daylight to make your home appear brighter.


LED bulbs cost between $2.50 and $5.50 each, while CFL bulbs cost $6–12 each. Keep in mind that there are specific bulbs for dimmers, and for LED- or CFL-specific light fixtures. Any standard light fixture can use regular LED or CFL bulbs, however, making the switch easy. If you need to have new recessed lights installed, the cost is around $600 for six lights.

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To make the most of your switch, look for the lowest wattage you can use in your fixture. This will keep your energy bills down even more by using less electricity. New bulbs only need 2 to 20 watts to put out plenty of light.

3) Fix leaks inside your home.

A dripping faucet or leaking toilet could be wasting as many as 10,000 gallons of water every year. This is a significant amount that could be easily fixed in most cases for just a few dollars. For major leaks, such as from pipes, you may want to call a plumber. But for a leaking toilet or faucet, you can usually fix the issue yourself.

Leaking faucets can be caused by one of two issues: a washer or a plastic cartridge that has stripped. Replace the washer in the spout, or remove the outer covering of the handle and replace the cartridge inside.

Leaking toilets are most commonly caused by an old wax ring. Disconnect the toilet, lift it from the floor and set a new wax ring around the waste opening. Replace the toilet, bolt it down and hook up the water. Sit on the toilet and rock in all directions before flushing again to seal the ring.


The cost of faucet washers is around $1.50 for 10, while a new cartridge runs $20 to $30. The cost of a wax ring for a toilet is $5–10.

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If possible, make the switch from a plastic cartridge to a ceramic disc valve. Plastic wears out much faster than ceramic, which means your faucet may begin leaking again quickly if you use the same material again. Ceramic disc cartridges are less likely to leak, giving you longer-lasting results.

4) Put up window shades.

The warmer temperatures in the spring may feel great at first, but the sun’s rays beaming directly into your home will soon start to make it feel uncomfortably warm. Window shades help block a lot of the heat transfer from the sun, allowing your home to feel more comfortable, while keeping your cooling bills down this summer.

Window shades also have the benefit of keeping in warmth during the winter months, and allowing you to add some color and interest to the rest of your home. Even if you currently have shades or drapes in place, consider investing in a new set with lighter colors for spring to update your decor at the same time.


Honeycomb shades cost between $35 and $50 apiece, while fabric shades cost between $50 and $100 each. Most come with mounting hardware to make them extra easy to put up.

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Whatever style you choose for your shades, look for products that are designed to block heat transfer. Sometimes known as thermal shades, these products will help prevent your home from adding warmth during the summer months and losing heat in the winter. 

5) Make your own green cleaning agents.

While cleaning products are easily found in most stores, many of them have a high chemical content, while others give off a lot of VOCs, polluting the air around you. Green cleaning products are also available at stores, but often at a higher cost.

This spring, consider making your own inexpensive green cleaners right at home. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar will clean most surfaces; a few drops of essential oil will help disguise the scent of the vinegar. Super Washing Soda can be used in place of baking soda for tough jobs, while tea tree oil can be used to disinfect areas naturally.


Vinegar costs less than $1 for a gallon jug at most grocery stores, while both baking soda and Super Washing Soda cost less than $5 for a large box. Tea tree oil and essential oil costs will vary, with most starting at around $10.

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If you choose to use essential oils in your homemade cleaner, make sure you look for those that are real oils, and not synthetic chemical scents.

Learn more about ways to get eco-friendly at home