Improve the Quality of Your Home with Green, Sustainable, or High-Performance Building and/or Living
Why Build & Remodel Green?
Green building practices are here to stay. Whatever you call it, green, sustainable, or high-performance construction and remodeling, building green is no longer a fad. Rather, it is a trend that will continue for years to come. And for good reason.
With the condition of the new housing industry remaining in a state of flux, remodeling your existing home has now more than ever become an excellent investment.
Rising utility costs, reduced resources, and increasing consumer awareness have all propelled the green building industry to new heights. The sky is literally the limit on where green building technology can go. For the purpose of this hub, I will discuss a few basic areas how you can:
- Lower your home energy costs
- Reduce your environmental imprint
- Increase your home’s comfort
- Improve the air quality of your home
- Increase your home’s short and long-term resale value.
The bottom line is this: Going green is a wise and right thing to do.
Green Building/Remodeling and Lower Utility Costs:
Ask the average consumer on why they are incorporating green building technology into their home and it would be fair to say that saving money would lurk near, or at the top of most lists. It goes without saying, people like to save money; so why not start at home. Here are a few tips on how you, too, can begin to lower your home energy costs with green building or living tips.
Use Energy Star Appliances: Not only do you qualify for government rebates; Energy Star appliances are soon becoming the norm. Each appliance must meet strict government specs for energy use and efficiency. A short list of appliances to start replacing includes:
- Water Heaters
- Air Conditioners
Over the last three years alone, the energy efficiency of refrigerators and freezers has tripled. Added insulation, advanced compressors, improved door seals, and temperature controls have all contributed to a 30% increase in energy efficiency and conservation.
Install Programmable Thermostats and Heat Pumps: Having preset temperatures throughout the day can save a lot of money often wasted with a quick turn of a dial. Heat pumps in general have proved over the years their superiority of traditional furnace heat by utilizing heat that is already present in your home’s surrounding landscape.
Install Efficient CFL and LED lighting (often coupled with dimmer switches): Research has shown a 7% reduced energy costs with dimmer switches alone.
Install light sensor switches in walk-in closets, bathrooms, laundry rooms, mud rooms, and bedrooms: How often have you left a light on? I am so busted here.
Install a Hot Water Heater Blanket: With the cost of the average hot water heater blanket around $20.00, there is no reason not to buy one. You’ll probably make up the cost in less than a month.
Install reduced flow and flush-less toilets: Dual flush toilets, low consumption toilets and reduced flow shower and faucet heads have made saving water easier than ever. There are new toilet and faucet designs now available with supplemental water pumps to further increase efficiency.
Be Good to the Earth with a Lower Carbon Footprint:
Reducing Your Environmental Imprint: By incorporating green building and living practices into your home and daily life, the amount of environmental impact is lowered—primarily due to reduced amounts of energy used. Here are a few areas where your home can go green:
Increase Your Home’s Comfort and Air Quality:
Tightening up your home with added insulation in the attic, floors, and around windows and doors improves your home’s comfort by reducing drafts as well as keeping conditioned air in. Air quality is improved due to better moisture level control thereby reducing levels of potentially dangerous mold and mildew.
Another easy way to improve your home's air quality while saving money is to seal all the duct-work. This can be accomplished with specialized tape that can be purchased at any home improvement store. Simply wrap the joints where ducts join and you're good. Even if you can't access all your home's ducts, doing what you can certainly helps. And don't forget to go into the attic as well to seal exhaust vents if needed.
Improving Your Home’s Potential Resale Value:
By improving your home’s overall energy efficiency, you create an advantage over other sellers with less efficient homes. And in today’s ultra-competitive resale market, that is a welcome edge. Landscape alterations are an excellent way to improve curb appeal and resale value. Such changes not only improve the looks of your home but its energy efficiency as well. Here are a few options.
- Xeriscaping: The use of water-conserving, indigenous plants save water, fertilizers, and herbicides. Other landscape features of xeriscapes include the use of non-organic materials such as stone that require no water or maintenance.
- Plant a tree--or two: Research has shown that tree preservation greatly increases your home's aesthetic appeal while saving money at the same time. Trees provide beneficial shade in summer and healthy wind breaks in winter. It has also been shown that one tree can adequately filter up to 60 pounds of air pollutants each year. The bottom line: Trees are green and appealing.
Green Building Techniques for the New Home:
- Factory-Built Building Components: By utilizing recycled material in the construction of newer and stronger building components such as trusses and floor joists, less trees are removed from the environment along with lowered job site cutting wastes.
- Alternative Window Placement and Design: Composite window frame materials such as fiberglass provide an excellent alternative to more expensive and maintenance-heavy wood frames. And placing windows in strategic locations with building overhangs and soffits limits excessive elemental exposure and subsequent reduced efficiency.
- Passive Solar Heating: The sun's natural heating element can also be harnessed for an advantage with larger, south-facing windows. Using low-E glass with inert gas between panes also contribute to natural heat retention in winter and solar deflection in summer.
- Vinyl and Concrete Siding: Both require little to no maintenance with added insulation values.
- Composite and Recycled Plastic for Decks and other Exterior Surfaces: Reducing and/or eliminating chemically-treated building materials for decks and other exterior surfaces saves lumber, maintenance, and in the long run, energy.
- Insulated Foundations: Adding insulation to concrete foundations can increase a home's basement R-Value up to 200%. The added savings in heating and cooling go without saying.