This article is written by Ginger Reid. She is an advocate for protecting our plant. She believes that we all can play a part in preserving the beauty of this planet for generations to come. Small changes to your lifestyle can make a difference to our environment. You can check out her website Ourpreciousresources.org for more tips on eco-friendly living.
A green or eco-friendly house offers numerous benefits to homeowners and the planet. These homes can be safer, cheaper to maintain over their lifetimes, and can give owners the strong sense of pride that accompanies making an environmentally-sound housing choice.
So, what makes a home green and what are its benefits?
Green homes defined
Several home features can render it eco-friendly. A house is a green home if it consumes less energy, water and natural resources than other dwellings to construct, maintain and operate. A house can be built from the ground up using green technologies. Some of these new construction homes can be Energy Star or LEED certified. Energy Star is a government-backed designation, with a focus on energy efficiency as a way to reduce waste and costs. Energy Star designations are often associated with appliances, too, which makes the concept familiar to consumers. Energy Star homes are a growing component of the US housing market, with 92,000 built-in 2016.
LEED certification, for Leadership in Energy and Engineering Design, is similar to Energy Star, but is global in scope and focuses on overall green building design, whereas Energy Star is limited to energy efficiency. Either designation indicates that the home is constructed with an eye toward environmental design.
Green home features include the following:
- Solar panels. These panels can be used for providing electricity to the home and for heating purposes. Considered the greenest of all energy sources, solar energy is plentiful in most areas, and technologies have optimized systems to provide power and heat consistently. Some solar panel owners produce more electricity than they need, which allows them to sell it back to the local power grid.
- Efficient appliances. Often Energy Star rated, these appliances are designed to draw minimal electricity and operate efficiently. Examples include washers, dryers, water heaters, furnaces and air conditioners.
- Appropriate insulation. Green homes are insulated correctly so that the thermal envelope is optimized. The thermal envelope is the system of walls, windows and insulation that keeps a house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Fiberglass insulation may regulate temperature well, but it is not the most environmentally-safe building material. Green options include recycled newspaper and sheep’s wool, both of which are effective and DIY-friendly.
- Nontoxic building materials. In addition to insulation, other building materials can be toxic, from carpeting to treated wood beams. A LEED-certified green home eliminates poisonous chemicals from construction materials, resulting in a house that is healthier for its occupants and the planet.
Green homes come with an upcharge
Because of the specialized materials used in construction, the additional engineering work required for design, and the demand for these homes, green homes typically are priced higher than non-eco-friendly versions. The energy efficiency of the home may help a homeowner recoup the premium, which can be as much as four percent more than non-green construction. There is considerable variation in these prices, however, and each building has unique features that can dictate price.
Small green home features can be added after construction
Houses that are not built with green standards can still be retrofitted into green homes. This can be done in pursuit of an energy certification or just through the homeowner seeking to save money and lessen their carbon footprint. A few simple methods for making a home environmentally friendly is to install low-flow showerheads, lower-volume flush toilets and LED light bulbs. Further, reduce your footprint by getting an electric car and a charger so you can be free of guilt as you drive around. Each of these steps is a small way to save on energy costs that cumulate into significant savings over time.
Image courtesy of xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Green homes provide benefits for owners and the environment. They are in high demand, so these homes carry a higher price tag, but the energy savings over time is worth the expense and the benefits for the planet.