Solar panels are a great way to save money and go green.

Often when we think about taking on a project around the house it is to improve our yard, save money, or add value and convenience to the house itself. Most of us don't consider ways that we can help protect the environment or make things more efficient - unless that project is designed to save lots of money. Here's four home improvement projects that you can do that will also improve the environment around you and dare I say it ... help you go green!

Install Solar Panels

This is an easy one that a lot of you are probably already thinking about. While there are some big expensive options, there are also products that you can get that will work to help power parts of your house without the investment of tens of thousands of dollars. Today, you can buy home solar kits from home improvement stores and online retailers that range from 100 wats to 1,000+ watt. These can be installed relatively easily though I always recommend hiring a trained electrician for anything involving wires around the house. By installing solar panels like this you can offset the energy used by your appliances, TV, and those lights in your man cave.

Add or Replace Old Insulation

Old insulation can settle, mold, or simply not be as efficient as insulation made from modern materials. By replacing your insulation or adding it to areas like your garage that's being converted into a home arcade, you can save money directly. However, you can do better than just grabbing the cheapest option out there. For instance, there are options now for more sustainable insulation that use more earth-friendly materials rather than petroleum-based chemicals used in the past. 

Install a Patio With Permeable Pavers

While concrete patios and asphalt driveways are nice - the impact of thousands of acres of hard surfaces like this in our communities is that water is running off and flooding storm drains instead of soaking into the Earth. By replacing your patio or installing permeable pavers instead of concrete slabs you can help keep water where it should be and reduce runoff and flooding in your community. There are even programs in different municipal areas that will help offset the cost through rebates like Rain Check does in Philadelphia.

Add a Smart Thermostat To Your House

We all know that lowering the heat in winter and reducing AC use in summer is a great way to save money, but it's also a good way to reduce emissions and pollution from the power plants too. With modern thermostats, you can do this seamlessly by allowing them to adjust the temperature when it senses that nobody is home as well as following set schedules. There are numerous smart thermostat solutions such as the WiserAir thermostat we reviewed recently.