Making green upgrades around your home can boost your home value, lower your energy bills, and be a great way to take care of the environment and minimize your energy consumption. These four green upgrades are the perfect place to start:

Seal Windows and Doors

Poorly sealed windows and doors are a major source of energy loss around the home. If your doors and windows are leaking air, your HVAC system has to work much harder to maintain the desired temperature, and your heat and air conditioning will flow outside instead of staying inside and keeping you comfortable. Upgrading to new, energy-efficient windows and doors is the best option and will add value to your home. If purchasing new windows and doors is not in the budget right now, a good alternative is to add new weather-stripping around your doors and windows, and seal any small cracks or holes with caulk.

Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Water Heater

High-efficiency water heaters heat water faster and keep it hot much longer while using way less energy than traditional water heaters. If you really want to get the most bang for your buck, look into a solar water heater. Solar water heating uses energy from the sun to heat your water, slashing your electricity bills in the process. If you buy a certified Energy Star solar water heater you will even get a 30% tax credit.

Pay for an Energy Audit

One of the smartest upgrades you can make at home is to have a professional energy audit performed. The energy auditor will inspect your home to find areas where it is losing energy and give you specific, actionable tips for remedying them. Some of these recommendations may require investing money in further green upgrades, but others will be simple things you can do for free or at very little cost.

Upgrade to High-Efficiency Light Bulbs

One of the things an energy auditor might point out is your outdated, inefficient light bulbs. LED light bulbs are cheaper than ever and are an easy way to make your home more energy efficient. You can also find smart light bulbs that not only run more efficiently but also connect to your smart home system and can be controlled from a mobile app.

Consider Sustainable Flooring Options

If you are looking to replace your old floors or carpet, be sure to consider sustainable options. Cork and bamboo are two eco-friendly options that provide the warmth, style, and durability of hardwoods without contributing to deforestation.

When investing money in home improvements, it makes sense to choose upgrades that will make your home more energy-efficient. These upgrades will benefit your bottom line and the earth at the same time.[:]