Being Eco-Friendly conscious is becoming more and more popular these days and it should be. The more that we can improve the environment of our lives, the more we lessen our energy footprint. The bonus is – you save money! The little things that we do every day in our personal lives to be more “green” have an exponential effect when you multiply those efforts of others doing the same thing. As a Realtor, I’m in different homes every day, and I’m starting to see the number of homeowners going green grow on a daily basis. Here are a few tips to go green in your own home . . .
Using sustainable building materials will lessen the impact of construction on the environment. Today, we live in a more environmentally-minded society, and virtually every part of your house can be touched by eco-friendly products. Talk with your builder about using reclaimed lumber and other products that utilize recycled glass and plastic. There are also a number of natural products that you can implement like cork and bamboo.
Lighter-colored roofing absorbs less heat, reducing cooling costs in the summer. You can also choose materials that will last longer, like steel and fiber cement products.
By incorporating high energy efficient windows in your home with gas filler between the panes and low emittance glass coatings, you’ll do a better job at keeping the heat outside during the summer and inside during the winter.
This is the covering that’s used on walls and roofs that lies between the studs and the exterior surface. OSB is a great engineered wood product that eliminates the use of requiring large trees. It’s resource efficient and improves durability.
Trusses and Pre-Hung Doors
If you can purchase these items factory-built, you eliminate the need to having them built on the jobsite, eliminating waste. This makes for the most efficient use of raw materials for your green home.
If you use insulation that has a high R-Value, you’ll reduce your heating and cooling costs, which account for half of the energy consumption in your home.
Because of the statement that was made above, it makes sense that your heating and cooling system should have an Energy Star Label on it. This means that it’s rated as high efficiency by the Environmental Protection Agency. It goes a little deeper than just installing a new system too. Your ductwork plays a huge role in loss of energy as well. Your installer should be highly qualified in their field, and your ducts should be tested with a goal of under 10% leakage.
Covered entryways to your home will prevent water intrusion and damage, improving durability and reducing maintenance.
While vinyl siding is cheaper to install and for continual maintenance, fiber cement siding is resistant to water and termites and is warrantied for 50 years.
If you’re going to build a home from scratch, choose a location where your home will not face the west. This will limit sun exposure, keeping your home cooler.
Going Green with Landscaping
If you absolutely love a home that is facing west, did you know properly-placed trees can have the same effect? Other than providing shade during the hot summer months, the trees will allow the sun to come in when they lose their leaves in the winter.
In a world where bigger is better, living in a smaller home will lessen your environmental impact versus living in a large home, especially when it comes to heating and cooling. The bonus is you get to save money at the same time.
Appliances and Equipment
Look for the Energy Star label. These products are recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as being energy efficient. Many people are familiar with this label today and are choosing to purchase these appliances, saving them money and energy.
Rainwater Collection Systems
One of the best ways to be more eco-friendly is to capture what is literally falling into your lap. Trapped rainwater that is stored in a tank can be used for just about everything that you use water for now.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters are very popular in other parts of the world like Europe and Asia and homeowners in the US are slowly coming around. The benefits are simple: you never run out of hot water, your energy costs go down, and you get more storage space by eliminating the bulky hot water tank. If you can’t afford a tankless water heater, consider insulating your current hot water tank which will significantly reduce your energy costs.
Water Conserving Upgrades
In addition to collecting rainwater yourself, there are many products on the market that can help you use less of the water you use. Innovation continues to grow by going green in your home, including buying low flow showerheads and faucets that give you the same pressure that you’re used to while still using less water. Toilets have also evolved with redesigned tanks and bowls that use less water but still deliver on performance.
Remember the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Reduce the number of products that you buy that are not environmentally friendly. Reuse what you can, like wood floors and windows. Recycle materials, like paper, plastic, lumber, aluminum, and glass.
Yes, CFL and LED cost consumers more money upfront, but they use far less energy and last so much longer than regular light bulbs. Since this lighting can last for many years, you’ll end up saving money in the long run, which is perfect for your “green” home.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are another example of eco-products that may cost you more upfront but will pay big dividends down the road. As mentioned in another section, heating and cooling costs account for half of your energy consumption, and one of the best ways to go green is to install a programmable thermostat. By doing this, you’ll absolutely conserve energy and save money. Studies have been done to determine that just a 1-degree change throughout the year can save you between 3-5% on your energy bill.
Caulking Is Your Friend
Caulking is not a product that lasts forever; in fact, it probably only lasts for just a few years. Most homes around the country are losing a considerable amount of heating and cooling from caulking that has broken down. Check all of your windows and doors (inside and out) and look for any cracks and missing caulking. This is a cheap and easy fix that pays you back big time.
Create a Recycling Center in Your Home
Set aside a space in your home that’s designated as the recycling hub, making it easier for every member of the family to recycle used products. For those who aren’t used to recycling, this will provide a quick, easy, and fun way to categorized recyclable materials. Whenever you go to throw something away ask yourself, “Can this be recycled?”
Limit Disposable Storage and Cleaning Items
Here’s one that will be difficult for me, because I use a lot of paper towels while cooking. However, the more you can limit how much you use paper towels and plastic wrap the less waste you’re creating. This can be fixed by using more cloth towels and reusable plastic storage containers.
Replacing Old Items
Homes break down over time and so does everything in it. Well, you have to replace them anyway; why not choose to buy a more “green” product instead? Something as simple as a light fixture or receptacle can lessen your energy footprint in your home.
Quick Tips for Going Green at Home
Solar panels trap heat from the sun to produce energy for the generation of heating and electricity.
Generating energy through the use of windmills is one of the oldest forms of alternative methods for power.
Here you generate electricity by leveraging heat from the earth.
Generating electricity through the use of organic matter.
Electricity is created by using the power of moving water.
Additional Resources for Going Green
Energy Saving Tips for the Winter – Bill Gassett
Top Objections for Going Solar – written by Sarah Howard
Green Home Improvements – Anita Clark
Green Home: 4 Energy Efficient Upgrades Home Buyers Will Love – Maria Mastrolonardo