What is an Eco-Friendly Home?
Spring is here!
Welcome to green grass, the smell of blooming flowers, and the sound of the wind through the leaves! Spring is the ideal season for cleaning, remodeling, and starting new, green lifestyles. Howard Hanna knows all about green lifestyles – green and gold, that is!
‘Going green’ is a phrase we continue to hear more and more as the concern about our environmental impact grows. With this movement comes a greater understanding of how our actions affect the environment around us. Over the years, countless lists of things you can do to be more eco-friendly have been created, and the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming. If you are new to this eco-friendly concept, you may have questions. While we cannot speak to everything, we can help you understand what it means to have an eco-friendly home.
An eco-friendly home is one that is designed to be sustainable and have minimal negative effects on the environment. Eco-friendly homes focus on the efficient use of natural resources, including energy, water and building materials. Good news: You do not have to build a completely new house to make it eco-friendly. You can convert your emission-producing powerhouse into an eco-friendly home!
Here are a few ways you can reduce your impact on the environment with a more eco-friendly home:
Install Energy-Efficient Equipment
If you need to replace your existing appliances, including dishwasher, refrigerator, washer and/or dryer, consider purchasing an energy-efficient appliance. An energy-efficient piece of equipment will have the ENERGY STAR® label, a designation given by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These appliances have a lesser impact on the environment and save money while maintaining high performance comparable to traditional appliances.
Ensure Proper Insulation
A home’s energy consumption is drastically affected by the need for heating and cooling, and people are often unaware of how much energy, and therefore also money, they waste by heating and cooling their poorly insulated house. Ensure that your windows, doors and duct work are well insulated. With proper insulation, your heating and cooling methods do not go to waste, therefore saving you money and making your home more eco-friendly.
Remodel with Sustainable Building Materials
When you start thinking about different rooms in your house that you want to remodel, think about areas in which you can use sustainable building materials instead of traditional materials. Sustainable building materials include reclaimed lumber, recycled plastic, recycled glass, or natural products made of renewable materials like cork or linoleum.
Install Solar Panels
Harnessing clean, renewable solar energy is a great way to create a more eco-friendly home. While the installation of solar panels is expensive at first, the long-term benefits far outweigh the initial costs. Solar panels utilize the sun’s energy to power your home, reducing your energy consumption and therefore also saving you money. Be sure to look into government grants, incentives and tax breaks that may be available in your area before you begin installation.
Use an Energy-Efficient HVAC System
By using a high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR® HVAC system, you will conserve energy and save money. Make sure your system is installed properly for maximum efficiency; the goal is to have less than 10% leakage.
Monitor the Thermostat
Because heating and cooling are where most of the home’s energy is spent, monitoring your thermostat is very important. One of the best eco-friendly home appliances is a programmable thermostat that starts your heating and cooling system only when the house reaches certain temperatures. In this way, you can save yourself money, energy and the hassle of trying to adjust your thermostat constantly.
Install Energy-Efficient Windows
Windows with the ENERGY STAR label are designed to be more energy-efficient, especially in terms of regulating the temperature of your home. These windows are given energy efficiency ratings – the lower the rating, the more energy-efficient the window. Equip your eco-friendly home with these windows to keep the chill out during winter and to better reflect the sun’s heat in summer.
Collecting rainwater from your home’s roof is a good way to utilize water that would otherwise be discarded. The most common method of storing this water is in a rain barrel. Regardless of how you store rainwater, using it for things like gardening, washing cars and sprinkler systems is a great way to conserve resources.
Install Eco-Friendly Home Lighting
A minor change, eco-friendly home lighting makes a big difference. Both LED and CFL bulbs use less energy and last much longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. These energy-efficient light bulbs are more expensive upfront, but over time save both energy and money.
Remodel with Water-Conserving Fixtures
If you are thinking about remodeling areas that include a water fixture such as a bathroom, kitchen or laundry room, consider installing water-conserving fixtures. Low-flow faucets, toilets and shower heads are all great options to have a more eco-friendly home and to save money on your water bill.
Composting is the process of recycling decomposed organic materials back into the soil. You can compost hundreds of things that you would normally throw away, meaning that instead of sitting in a landfill these items will be recycled as fertilizer. Besides the fact that composting can be enjoyable, it adds key nutrients back into the soil, making the environment better for the growth of plant life essential to our survival.
In the spirit of the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement, repurposing furniture is a trendy and creative way to have a more eco-friendly home. If you are tired of the way a piece of furniture looks, repurpose it instead of throwing it away. This allows you to be creative and environmentally friendly. There are a number of repurposing ideas that can be found online, or you can come up with you own! Whatever you decide to do, repurposing, selling or giving away furniture is better than throwing out the old and simply buying new.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The classic ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’ mantra is still just as valid as it was when it was first introduced. To lessen our impact on the environment, we should reduce our use of resources, reuse materials when we can, and recycle whenever possible. An eco-friendly home will have this mantra ringing throughout by utilizing the above tips and tricks to be more environmentally conscious.