As temperatures rise, so does the demand for more eco-conscious ways of owning a home. When considering the environmental impact of a home, builders look at the manufacturing process and the sustainability of the materials used in the construction. Here in this article, we will talk about a green picket fence.
Your home’s geographical footprint doesn’t have to raise your carbon footprint. Here are seven ideas for greener homeownership that will have your neighbors green with envy.
Start with a Strong Foundation
Before choosing materials, you’ll need a firm foundation in the form of environmentally friendly house plans. The most sustainable designs usually include smaller homes, as well as moderately-sized homes with energy-efficient layouts.
When browsing for house plans, regardless of whether you’re in the market for a small house plan or an energy-efficient plan, start by answering a few general questions first. For example, is a custom home the right fit for you? If so, would you prefer a custom or stock house plan?
From there, it’s a matter of answering the big questions, i.e. “what am I missing in my current home?” or “what will my life look like in 5-10 years?” Once you’ve chiseled away at this laundry list of questions, you’ll be one step closer to your energy-efficient oasis.
For the cherry on top of the sustainability sundae, designers have also created house plans that incorporate sustainable materials and use the geography of the land to decrease the reliance on the grid. Rather than starting from scratch, using pre-existing home plans can save you time and money while also reducing the need to use more materials to create brand new prints.
Use Eco-Friendly Building Materials
Once you’ve selected your eco-friendly home design, the next step is to choose green materials. Using salvaged or reclaimed items reduces the need to manufacture new materials. The most sustainable homes have building components like reclaimed wood, recycled steel, and fast-growing bamboo timber.
Concrete negatively affects the environment, so the amount and way it’s used in your new home can negate the eco-friendly products. If you must use concrete as a building material, consider using green concrete that uses fly ash or slag rather than the carbon-heavy Portland cement process used worldwide.
Turn to Energy-Efficient Appliances
When filling your home with appliances, look for the most eco-friendly options available. Machines with the Energy Star logo have been tested and proven to use as little energy as possible. An independent organization evaluates these appliances, so you can trust that your morning cup of coffee isn’t destroying the rainforest.
Energy Star tests kitchen, laundry, and HVAC appliances, as well as products like skylights, doors, water heaters, and ceiling fans. You can reduce your energy expenses by using products with the blue Energy Star sticker.
Trust in the Sun
As more homeowners look for ways to bring sustainability to their homes, more are turning to solar panels and strategically-placed windows. With solar batteries and net metering, homeowners can use the energy from the sun, even on cloudy days and at night. Solar installers can design a system that fits your home’s size and location to maximize available sunlight.
To further reduce your reliance on the grid, you can choose home plans with windows that allow the most light into your home. With natural sunlight, you don’t have to rely on light fixtures during the day.
You can add to your home’s sustainability by using dual-pane or Low-E windows that keep the heat in and cold air out in the coldest months. Low-E windows provide more insulation than traditional windows, and they block harmful UV rays from entering your home.
Use Non-Toxic Interior Materials
Many interior products used in homes have harmfully toxic ingredients. For example, paint, stains, and adhesives contain VOCs that emit gases like benzene, ethylene glycol, and formaldehyde. Plywood and other wood products are manufactured with formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals.
To make your home safe and eco-friendly, use paints, wood, and carpet that are free of VOCs and other dangerous chemicals. Eco-friendly interior finishes exist, and many are made by smaller businesses that take pride in minimizing and negating their carbon footprints.
Create a Green Space
One way to make your living space more eco-friendly is to have a living roof and walls. Plants filter toxins and improve indoor air quality. With a green roof, you can help improve the air quality around the outside of your home. By adding plants to an interior wall, you immediately improve the air quality in your home.
Homeowners with living walls report that they feel more relaxed and calm at home. Of course, living walls need regular maintenance, but it becomes an act of love to take care of a wall full of plants. Manufacturers are making prefab living walls so homeowners don’t have to worry about the plants damaging drywall and studs.
Turn to Reclaimed Water for Landscaping
Homeowners use a significant amount of water each year, and much of it comes from watering grass and landscape materials. When designing your eco-friendly home, consider landscaping that requires less irrigation and rely only on reclaimed water for your plants.
Eco-conscious homeownership involves using materials with environmentally-friendly processes and materials. It also includes changing what you use to decorate your home, water your plants, and access the grid.