Going green is much more than a popular statement or hashtag on social media. People all across the nation are thinking more about their carbon footprint and how to reduce it. Many of us are considering now more than ever how we want to leave the environment for future generations. The effort and changes it takes to start living more eco-friendly begin at home. We don’t just mean with the family, but with the actual house itself.
In this piece, we intend to rebuild from the ground up. We will be going all the way to the roof with suggestions on ways you can have a more ozone-friendly dwelling and save money while you’re doing it. Products and services that offer better energy-efficient extras around your home will not only give you smaller bills but also higher home value overall. The National Association of Home Builders reports that a home buyer is willing to shell out almost $10,000 more for homes with these reduced energy features. So, let’s get started!
Depending on what is being done to your yard, it can be harmful to the plant life that resides there and beyond. With that being said, there are several ways you can circumvent this problem and make a luscious space in the process. Here are a few ideas you can do on your own or get minimal help with:
- Native Plants. With a little research, and perhaps a chat with landscapers, you can find out what flora occurs naturally in your area. Due to the fact they reside locally, this greenery will need less upkeep. That makes them more budget-friendly and an easy fit with the environment. Another bonus is they are likely resistant to any disease that may come their way.
- Saving Rainwater. One easy way to get water to keep your garden and grass green is to save what mother earth gives you for free. There are several rainwater harvesting options out there, even ones that can look strategically chic in a yard. You may not be able to get all your water this way, but it will greatly reduce the amount from the hose. A definite must-have for rainier places.
- Build A Compost Pile. One easy way to eliminate as much waste as possible is through composting. This gives you twice the benefit because it provides you with two services. The first is reducing the amount of garbage you need to throw away. The second is that compost turns the waste into fertilizer. Talk about a win/win!
Now that you have some ideas on how to incorporate some ecological alternatives on the outside, let’s take a look around inside. From the washroom to the power that runs it, there are many ways to upgrade or build an interior that can create an eco-friendly environment.
- Building Materials. If you have the opportunity to start from scratch, you have the chance to get things sustainable at every stage. Starting with the actual building itself, you can choose to make walls from renewable materials. These days, when you picture using wood it’s possible that a part of you cringes and thinks about deforestation. However, according to the National Alliance of Forest Owners, the companies that uproot trees make sure to replant almost half of what is taken. A way to get around purchasing new wood would be to use reclaimed or repurposed wood. It can take some digging but there are places that specialize in these types of materials. You could even go outside the box and try bamboo, which is probably the most environment-friendly way to build anything. Even better, it grows way faster than wood, so it would not take long to replace.
- Countertops. Aside from walls, another material that will be important is what you put on the counters. A beautiful, all-natural, and more durable choice would be quartz, as opposed to the more popular granite or marble. Quartz is not as porous as granite, so you are less likely to have bacteria sticking around. Also, that is the same reason why chemicals need to be used on granite, whereas quartz does not have that issue.
- Oil Heating. While it may not have always been the case, using oil for space heating is considered a green option. Heating oil has evolved with technology and has been transformed into what is considered a clean fuel. Due to the overflowing reserves, the cost has been much more affordable than in the past. In total, the oil option is actually cheaper and cleaner in comparison to natural gas. Since only about eight percent of homes in America have this type of heating system, it might behoove you to get in touch with local oil companies to see what your course of action might be.
- Air Condition. If we want to stay warm in a green way, we will also want to stay cool in an equal way. Before we get into ways to support the air conditioner, we should talk about the appliance itself. Have you taken a hearty look at the specifications of your unit? If it is an older model or put there by someone who did not have an interest in eco alternatives, it may not be as great as you might have thought. What you want to look for is if it’s Energy Star certified. That means that this type of cooling system has been tested and approved as energy-efficient. The requirements to meet that standard are put into place by the Environmental Protection Agency. To help the unit work better, make sure your home is properly insulated and able to be naturally ventilated. Save money on using an air conditioner by installing ceiling or stand-alone fans that use much less energy and can keep individual rooms cool.
- Window Replacement. Speaking of the hot or cold, one big help on that front is to have windows that work to let the light in and keep the temperature where you want it on the inside. Extra paned glass windows can help with that. They are filled with argon gas, which is exactly what you need to keep the escape of energy in check. There are also types of glass that help keep the heat out by reflecting the sun away from the home. The earth-friendly opportunities don’t end with glass. What the window frames are made of can also play a part in making them more efficient. Aside from wood, there is also vinyl, which avoids damage from freezing temperatures since water does not have an impact on it.
- Clothes Cleaning. We’ve figured out how to keep the perfect temperature. Now let’s get some clean clothes! The great debate in appliances is, what’s better, the top load washers or front loaders? It would seem that the front load washer wins, at least in the battle for Energy Star ratings. According to them, the front-loading units use almost half as much energy and water as the top-loader does. Aside from the machine, washing in cold water can also do much to cut energy usage. When it comes to drying, the cheapest and highest efficiency ratings go to the heat pump dryers. Each load will save a coin.
- Refrigeration. With washers, you have the front vs top loading debate. With refrigerators and freezers, it’s top and bottom vs side by side. The way to let the least amount of power escape is to have a top and bottom fridge and freezer combo. However, the smart technology for refrigerators is only getting better. There are models now that can tell you what’s inside, show you an image of the inventory, or offer a small door on the front, all that can be used without swinging open the big doors.
- Ovens. Speaking of food, cooking uses a lot of intensity as well. Ovens can be big power guzzlers due to their size and what it takes to thoroughly get something consumable. This is where the convection oven enters the conversation. These types of ovens cook a quarter faster than regular ovens and use 20% less energy.
- Power Storage. When the power goes out, there is nothing more reassuring than to have a backup generator for the home. A natural gas generator actually gives out less carbon dioxide than other types of generators, such as diesel, which makes it better for the environment. There are also types of generators that use fuel and solar panels to do the job. So, not only what goes into the generator is green but how it collects the energy is as well. A double whammy!
Internally, those are some sound decisions to make for a more sustainable property. Now it’s time to head to the roof. Sitting there silently, unassuming, the roof actually holds plenty of space to make itself better. From materials to panels, view the top of the house as an eco friendly roofing canvas.
- Roof Upgrade. Materials can make such a massive difference to not only the upside of the home but for the quality and durability of the project. One big trend coming out of the roofing industry is the new ways roofers are trying to go green and change the appearance of the home. The type of shingles that are popular now because of those positive qualities is metal. Local roofing companies can go over the benefits of other materials so you can choose which is best for you but metal reflects. Not only are they often mostly recycled, but they are also sending UV rays away from the home, driving down cooling costs by up to 25%. A metal roof also has the benefit of longevity, given that it can last up to 70 years, which could be a big plus when it comes time to list the home. Another advantage? They will not catch fire!
- Solar Panels. Where there is a flat plane open to the sun, there should be solar panels. We will not be covering every benefit of having solar panels, there are a lot, but we’ll highlight an important point to get you inspired. It would be hard to have a more renewable resource than the sun. Even though there are times of the year and places across the nation that get less sun, the rays still find their way through a lot of the time. Just like how you can get sunburnt even though there are clouds in the sky, there is the sun coming through to the solar panels. As a homeowner, it’s important to check around and make sure the solar installers are experts. You want a master electrician to get these panels up and working properly.
No matter what appliance or solar panel you add to your home, there are more pluses. It’s possible that you could not only benefit from savings, a smaller carbon footprint, or even an increase in a home’s value but you might be entitled to tangible money for making these choices! After pouring your time and energy into being as green as possible, you may be up for something you were not expecting; a rebate! A great way to recoup the money spent on these upgrades is to take advantage of tax credits or government-funded rebates that encourage people to make these changes to their homes.
Many people avoid taking such measures, even if they would like to because they believe it will drain their finances. That does not have to be the case. If this subject is one you are passionate about, the best way to get started is to analyze your home and make a list of what you would like to change. Once you have an idea of what it would take to get your green dream scenario, there is no reason why you can’t take it slow. Pick projects by priority of available funds or interest and do them one at a time. Some of these projects would require more resources than others, but it doesn’t mean that with time they aren’t all able to be accomplished.