Green building practices and green renovation are a hot topic in the construction industry. They provide the homeowner with temporary tax benefits and lower utility bills and are also less harmful for the environment. It’s an all around great idea to convert your house to more green standards, or look for green standard when purchasing a new home. At GreenBuiltBlog.com we love to keep you up-to-date with the latest trends and new in the green building industry, so it’s about time that we give you a few pointers on ways to make your home greener. Here are 10 simple suggestions to get your home started with a green makeover:
Energy Star® estimates that homeowners can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on their total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating their homes. A new home should be sealed and insulated well, but to be really green, specify an earth-friendly insulation like blue-jean insulation or cellulose insulation – there really is a wide variety of green insulation out there.
#2 Look for Energy Star Appliances
Buy only Energy Star appliances. They save you money and use less energy. Experts say that the average household does almost 400 loads of laundry each year, consuming about 13,500 gallons of water. Qualified washing machines can save 7,000 gallons of water annually, cutting utility bills by an average of $50 per year.
#3 Look for Energy Star Roof Products
Energy Star also qualifies roof products. Those that make the grade are typically metal roofs or shingles with a special coating that reflect more of the sun’s rays, which, in turn, can lower the roof’s surface temperature by up to 100° F. This decreases the amount of heat transferred into a home, which reduces the amount of air conditioning needed at peak cooling times by 10 to 15%.
#4 Choose Bamboo Flooring
If you want hardwood floors, opt for reclaimed wood flooring from buildings that have been demolished or ask for bamboo hardwood flooring. Bamboo is a fast-growing natural product. It is a member of the grass family. When harvested, its root systems stay intact to grow more bamboo. Five years of bamboo growth equals 40 years of hardwood growth, so choosing bamboo protects old-growth forests from depletion. It looks great, too.
#5 Look for Recycled Countertop Material
Granite countertops are nice, but granite is a natural stone and therefore, a finite resource. As an alternative, consider installing countertops made of recycled glass or those with recycled plastic content.
#6 Insist on a Programmable Thermostat
You determine when the heat or the air conditioning will go on so that you’re not heating or cooling your home when you’re not there. Programmable thermostats automatically adjust and maintain your home’s temperature while you’re away or asleep. They cost as little as $35, and can save you $150 annually in energy costs.
#7 Show Your Green Thumb
Plant shade trees at the south side of your home to keep you cooler in the summer. Also, choose plant species that are native to your region. These plants will require less water and fertilization because they have adapted to the environment.
#8 Check out Fiber Cement Siding
Fiber cement siding is made of natural raw materials such as wood pulp, cement, sand and water. It looks like wood and can be painted any color, yet using it won’t deplete old-growth forests.
#9 Use Tankless Water Heaters
Traditional water heaters heat anywhere from 40 to 80 gallons of water at a consistent 120°, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Instead, choose a tankless water heater that heats water only when you need it. As long as a faucet, shower or hot-water appliance is operating, the tankless water heater continues to run. Once the faucet or appliance is turned off, the tankless unit stops.
#10 Use Energy Star Light Bulbs
Believe it or not, Energy Star also rates light bulbs. Usually, they are four times more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, provide the same light levels and last four to 10 times longer. The trade-off is that they do cost more, approximately $3 to $10 compared to 25 cents for an incandescent bulb. That said, they last much longer and can save up to $30 in electricity costs over their lifespan, according to www.energystar.gov. Install them in your outside porch lights, too. You won’t have to get up on a ladder to replace them as often.