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What is an eco-friendly house exactly, and how do you turn your home greener? We answer these questions and more. Read on!
Technically, a completely eco-friendly house (an eco-house) is one that is LEED certified. But a green home can mean different things to different people. For some, it means using energy-efficient appliances; for others, it might mean installing solar panels on their roof. But regardless of what type of changes you decide to implement in your abode, there are many ways to go about making them greener.
Table of Contents
What Makes a House Eco-friedly?
Many things make a house eco-friendly. It starts with laying the foundation all the way up to leading a sustainable way of life. Here are the things that make a house a green home, from construction to accommodation.
Built with Recycled Materials
Building an eco-friendly house means using as many recycled materials in its construction as possible and feasible. The list of recycled materials that can be used is big. Using them allows you to reduce your carbon footprint substantially. This can be reusing reclaimed lumber and reclaimed bricks, using recycled materials for insulation, but also making use of sustainable materials, such as bamboo, wool, and various composite materials.
Green Home Products
Green products offer benefits beyond saving money. Many eco-friendly options also save resources and improve indoor air quality. Look for green cleaning supplies, low VOC paints, natural building materials, sustainable wood flooring, recycled content carpeting, and more.
Solar panels generate free electricity all year round. Many experts recommend installing solar panels before air conditioning units because they use a lot of electricity. Installing photovoltaic panels requires some upfront investment but will pay back over time through lower utility bills. PV panels work best in sunny climates like California. But they can still produce significant amounts of electricity in areas with mild winters.
High Efficiency LED Lighting
LED lighting uses less than one-third as much energy as traditional incandescent bulbs. And since LEDs last longer, you’ll save money too! Many new homes have been built with LED lights throughout. So if you’re planning to build or renovate a new home, look into incorporating these types of fixtures. You could also retrofit existing rooms with this technology.
Rainwater collection systems collect water from rooftops during heavy downpours and store it in tanks used later when required. This reduces the need for municipal supplies, which often cost upwards of $100 per month. It also helps reduce flooding risks associated with storm drains that carry rainwater away quickly. The average household collects around 10 gallons of rainwater each week so investing in a system isn’t expensive.
Ensuring your roof is in good condition when setting up this system is essential. If you notice a leak, make sure you know how to fix a leaking roof from the inside, and if needed, hire a professional roofer to help you out. This will help reduce any potential water damage and prevent it from worsening when your rainwater collection system is installed.
Eco-insulation refers to materials made out of recycled content such as newspapers, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, etc. These insulations keep heat inside buildings while allowing cold air outside.
They come in various forms – loose-fill insulation, rigid foam board insulation, cellulose fiber insulation, spray polyurethane insulation, mineral wool insulation, glass fiber insulation, Rockwool insulation, straw bale insulation, earthbag insulation, cotton batting insulation, organic wool insulation, hemp insulation, paper insulation.
Appliance efficiency levels continue to increase, meaning newer models are generally better equipped to handle high power demands. For example, most modern refrigerators now consume between 1/7th and 1/8th the energy compared to their predecessors. Similarly, many microwave ovens operate using about half the wattage needed by previous generations. If you’re looking to make significant changes to your kitchen appliances, consider replacing them entirely with more efficient versions.
Low Flow Shower Heads
Showers account for nearly 40% of household water usage. Replacing old shower heads with new ones featuring aerated sprayers will significantly improve water consumption. These devices force water to exit the head slowly, allowing less pressure to build within the pipes. As a result, they use far less hot water than traditional showerheads. Some manufacturers claim these types of heads last up to 10 times longer before needing replacement.
Programmable Smart Thermostats
Programmable thermostats allow homeowners to set their home’s heating/cooling systems according to specific schedules. For example, you might program it to automatically switch on the furnace only between 5 am and 9 pm. Smart thermostats can turn on and preheat your home just before you return from work, saving energy while you’re away.
How to Make Your Home More Eco-friendly?
You can make any home more eco-friendly if you make the right daily choices:
Recycle Your Trash
Recycling helps conserve natural resources because it reduces the amount of trash going into landfills. It’s estimated that Americans throw away enough recyclable materials every day to fill two garbage trucks. However, recycling isn’t always easy.
Many municipalities require residents to separate specific items like glass bottles and aluminum cans before being recycled. Some cities even charge fees for this service. To avoid paying extra costs, try separating your waste at home instead. This includes plastic bags, paper products, cardboard boxes, etc. When possible, recycle everything!
Grow Vegetables Indoors
Growing vegetables indoors allows homeowners to enjoy fresh food all year round without having to spend time outside. Several benefits are associated with growing plants inside rather than outdoors, including lower water bills, reduced exposure to pesticides and herbicides, and increased control over pests. Additionally, indoor gardens don’t need much maintenance once established. They can quickly grow well under artificial lighting conditions.
Reduce Water Usage
Water conservation doesn’t necessarily involve cutting back on how often you shower or wash dishes. Instead, focus on conserving water through simple measures such as turning off faucets when brushing teeth or washing hands, taking shorter showers, and watering lawns sparingly. Also, remember to turn off the tap while running the dishwasher or washing clothes. Finally, installing low-flow toilets and urinals in public restrooms can help cut down on wasted water throughout the entire building.
Repair Leaks and Pipes
Leaks aren’t just unsightly; they also cause severe property damage. Identify potential problems early so leaks can be repaired quickly. Look for signs of leaking around sinks, tubs, toilets, washers, and dryer vents. Check underneath floorboards near plumbing fixtures for cracks or other indications of leakages. Keep track of any repairs made to fix leaks. You may want to keep records of repair invoices and receipts in case there are future issues.
Replace Old Light Bulbs with LED
LED light bulbs save money, but not everyone realizes how long they’ll last. They can last up to 50,000 hours, and that’s nearly ten times the lifespan of a CFL. Moreover, CFLs contain mercury which poses health risks if inhaled (if they’re broken). Fortunately, LED bulbs provide even more significant savings because they require less electricity. While LEDs do cost slightly more initially, the price difference has diminished over the years.
Reduce Water Consumption During Winter Months
During the winter months, heating systems run continuously to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures. This means running faucets and washing machines constantly. To conserve water during cold weather, turn off the tap while brushing teeth, shaving, etc., instead of letting the water flow freely. Also, remember to shut off outdoor hoses when they’re not being used. Finally, install low-flow showerheads as described above.
Use Less Electricity
Many people don’t realize that lighting accounts for almost 30 percent of total home electrical bills. If possible, replace overhead lighting with recessed downlights. They consume much less energy than conventional models. Additionally, consider replacing your existing appliances with newer versions that feature high-efficiency motors and controls. For example, refrigerators now come equipped with electronic sensors that automatically adjust their cooling capacity according to demand. Likewise, dishwashers often include “quick wash” cycles that clean dishes faster by using less power.
Turn Off Lights When Not Using Them
If you leave a room or area unoccupied for several minutes, most modern electronics will dimly illuminate until someone turns something else on. Similarly, many devices will go completely dark after about 10 seconds of nonuse. These automatic settings help prevent wasting electricity. You may need to override these functions manually, so you always see everything.
Unplug Appliances While Sleeping
When you sleep, your body temperature drops significantly. As a result, your refrigerator, freezer, computer, TV, stereo system, lights, etc., continue working even though you aren’t awake. The problem: all those gadgets drew lots of juice when left plugged in overnight. Instead, plug them into surge protectors. Surge protectors cut off power surges caused by lightning strikes, short circuits, and other problems. And if you have multiple outlets available, place each appliance next to its outlet. That way, no one device draws too much current at once.
Keep Water Heaters Clean
Water heater filters can clog over time. If that happens, water won’t flow through properly. In addition, dirty water heats unevenly. It takes longer to get hot water flowing through pipes near the bottom of the tank. So, clean out your filter regularly. Otherwise, replace it as soon as possible.
Recycle Old Electronics
Electronics are made from copper, steel, aluminum, plastic, glass, paper, and more. Each material has different properties. Some metals corrode easily; others rust. Plastic breaks down quickly, glass shatters, paper burns up. But all of these things happen naturally. What’s important is how long we keep our old stuff around before recycling it.
Donate Your Stuff
Donating items to charity helps reduce waste and pollution. Plus, charities use donated goods to provide services to needy families and individuals. Some organizations accept donations of used clothing, books, furniture, household items, toys, tools, sporting equipment, vehicles, boats, RV trailers, and more.
Check Your Air Conditioner Filter Regularly
Air conditioners work hard during the summer months. They suck cool air outside and blow warm air inside. To do this efficiently, they require regular maintenance. One thing that needs attention every month is the air conditioning filter. Dirty filters restrict airflow and cause energy loss. A good rule of thumb is to change the filter monthly.
Avoid Using Hot Tubs During Summer Months
Hot tubs heat water using electricity or gas. This means they’re not very environmentally friendly. You’ll need to pay extra for electric bills and buy propane tanks. Also, hot tubs don’t help with cooling homes because they take so much space indoors.
Are Eco-friendly Homes Worth It?
Yes, it is worth investing in an eco-friendly home. These are the main reasons:
By switching to renewable sources of power (like solar panels), your utility bill can drop significantly over time. If you live in a cold climate, installing insulation may lower heating costs by as much as 30%. And if you have kids, investing in child safety features such as smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms can prevent serious injuries.
Protecting Our Environment
When you recycle correctly, you protect the environment. Recycling reduces landfill waste and saves trees. In addition, recycling keeps valuable metals out of landfills, where they pollute groundwater.
Improving Health and Wellness
Healthy living starts from within. Making minor lifestyle adjustments like eating organic food, exercising regularly, avoiding chemicals, and limiting screen time contribute to better health.
The cost depends on what type of construction and location. It can cost up to $250 per square foot. DIY projects can cut the cost significantly.
There isn’t one single answer to this question. The critical factor here is sustainability. An eco-friendly home will be built without harming nature. That includes reducing its impact on landfills, waterways, forests, wildlife habitats, oceans, and other ecosystems.
Yes! There are several reasons why making changes now could benefit you later.