The constantly changing environment around us provides new methods and ways to create a green home for us and our families.
According to a survey conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction, green builds in the residential sector made up 17% of construction in 2011, totaling $17 billion in economic activity, and the residential green building market is expected to grow five-fold by 2016.
When building a green house, dropping costs are helping to make it a popular trend. If you are building a new home, your life is all about decisions – choosing the features of it. So it’s a great time to add green features in order to be engaged in a positive atmosphere and save money. Today so much knowledge and resources are available to us, there would be no excuse for not trying to go environmentally conscientious.
For some people a dream home is a green home. If you are building a new home, you might consider these green home building ideas:
The right place
While buying property, you should consider several points. Make sure your building is not west facing to maximize sun exposure and keep your home warm. When thinking about going green you can’t underestimate environmentally sensitive locations. These are earthquake and hurricane and flood prone areas. Even if you want to have a most green home build it/or buy one near town. This will help you avoid additional costs to bring lines, utilities and roads if they don’t already exist. Think also about public transport and a grocery shop not far from your place.
Use solar energy
This day and age it’s very important to use the ultimate source of clean and low-cost energy. No matter where you live or where you’re going to build your home, be sure to have solar access in the first part of the day (9:00am-3:00pm). As we already mentioned you building should face due south. This will lower your energy costs by 10%. By locating your house and constructing solar panels in its right way, you’ll even be able to sell some energy back to your utility company. If not you could at least get grants, government incentives and tax breaks, related to the use of solar power. And this doesn’t mean having windows and skylights with plenty of sun exposure is a must. You can also use sunlight transport systems with fiber optic cables to make a windowless basement feel like a glass-encased house.
Build it smaller
Building green homes means building smaller homes. Sure, this is not about building a cottage instead of a really dream home for a large family. Here you just have to consider not build more then you need. If your house is too large, you’re likely waste space, which means wasted money on heating and cooling. Just try to build it fit your lifestyle and keep the space manageable and cost effective. Have a plan. If you’re going to have more children or take in elderly relatives, make sure to take under consideration to have accommodations and resources for them.
Energy – efficiency
When building a green home or renovating your home, use high energy efficient appliances. You probably are familiar with ENERGY STAR symbol. It’s becoming a well-known label and states that particular piece of equipment has been deemed as energy efficient by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These appliances offer significant cost and energy savings. When choosing a product with ENERGY STAR on it, a consumer is making up an extra cost in energy and water bill savings. They are more expensive than a standard product with the same features, but they shortly pay off.
The materials, your roof is made of, make a dramatic difference in your home’s energy efficiency. There are many roofing green options, you just need to choose the one can afford. Now many roofs are going green. Planting gardens on the rooftops is not only a benefit for home, but it’s also a great investment to environment in the context of bringing green back to the urban jungle. When talking about roofs, you should also consider installing tankless water heaters and rainwater harvesting systems to collect rainwater from roofs and then use for other purposes such as toilets. A very important green home upgrade is proper insulation. As there is no way to completely prevent heat and cool from escaping through the roof, but insulating the attic properly will slow the rate significantly. The same rule is working for windows and doors. We’ll talk about it in the next step.
Insulation is really playing a huge role in green homes. Properly insulated walls, windows and doors are the guarantee for taking your home to a new level of energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR labeled windows are new player in window market. They are much more energy efficient than normal windows and provide enough energy saving to cover the added cost per window. These windows are greatly reducing sound transfer between outside and inside making heating and cooling costs drop. You should also know about electrochromic windows, which serve as energy-saving devices. The gold standard in door efficiency is foam-filled fiberglass doors.
Sustainable Building Materials
When building a green home you should definitely use environmentally and eco-friendly products for each and every part of your house. Sustainable, toxic-free, recycled building materials reduce the impact of your home on the environment. For example, bamboo, cork and linoleum are great for modern flooring.
When building a green home, choose eco-friendly lighting. Thought LED and CFL cost more upfront, they use less energy and last longer than other non energy-efficient bulbs. So these are ideal green lighting options for your new home. However, some people don’t like CFLs, as they are not bright enough and are not worth the saving. On the other hand LED bulbs are 80% more energy-efficient and last 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.
Heating and cooling costs more than $1000 a year. So choosing an upgraded HVAC system will really help you save energy and money. An ENERGY STAR rated HVAC system can increase your home’s energy efficiency by 9%. Just make sure to install it properly. Also highly programmable thermostats are becoming a trend for new homes. They reduce your heating and cooling bills. Furthermore, you can also save money by dividing your heating and cooling system into zones to be able to control the temperature of each part of your home.
Landscaping is a critical part of any home. Believe it or not, landscaping is also very important when going green and it is adding energy efficiency of your home. Shady landscaping will protect your home from direct sunlight during summer and serves as insulation during winter months. In addition, the plants will help support wildlife around your home. Just make sure to work with local gardening supply store and choose plants that will grow best with your local climate and other conditions. Besides, try to minimize water use.
By: Hermine Aslanyan
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