Living a greener lifestyle starts at home. More homeowners are looking for green home designs or home construction that maximizes energy efficiency. How are green homes more environmentally friendly than a normal home?
Green homes are typically constructed with eco-friendly materials and may include solar panels, geothermal power, and wind turbines. However, to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green-home distinction, homes must meet specific criteria.
Some homeowners just want to make more sustainable choices and aren’t concerned about certain labels. Create an energy-efficient home with these eco-friendly home ideas:
- Solar panels
- Geothermal heating
- Energy-efficient HVAC systems
- A green roof
Homeowners who are a member of a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) might need to clear solar panels before installing them. Some HOAs have stipulations related to the appearance of a home; it’s better to be safe for those abiding by HOA by-laws.
However, if the solar panels are given the green light, this project could reap many benefits for the homeowner. Using the power of the sun instead of electricity can help homeowners save money each month on utility costs.
Installing solar panels is an investment, though. These systems will cost between $15,000 and $25,000. However, tax credits and/or other incentives could help offset these costs.
Get Toasty with Geothermal Heating
Geothermal heating is another aspect of many green homes. This type of heating requires an underground system of pipes that use the heat of the Earth to warm the water. The warm fluid is then used for heating the home or to supply hot water.
These geothermal systems also can be used for cooling. Geothermal systems use much less energy than standard electric or gas-fueled heating and/or cooling systems. The cost of these systems may be between $18,000 and $30,000. Systems for larger homes might cost more.
Energy-Efficient HVAC Systems
Homeowners who don’t have the budget for a geothermal system could simply upgrade their HVAC to an energy-efficient system. However, even replacing an HVAC system is expensive; many homeowners will wait to replace their HVAC when their current system is at the end of its life.
Heating and cooling accounts for the majority of the energy use in the home, however. Upgrading the HVAC to an energy-efficient model could represent significant savings over time.
A Green Roof
Before installing (or planting) a green roof, homeowners again may want to clear the upgrade with their HOA. Those without ties to an HOA, though, might opt for this energy-efficient roof.
A green roof features greenery; this roof looks like a rooftop garden. The green plants absorb sunlight and keep the roof (and the home) cooler. Plus green roofs are great for the environment. Green plants convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to oxygen thanks to photosynthesis.
Going Green Inside
Homeowners also can add other green touches to their home to make it more sustainable. There are many ways to green-up the interior of the home.
Need to replace an appliance? Homeowners can opt to replace the old appliance with an energy-efficient model.
Fireplaces waste a lot of energy when they are in use. While homeowners think that throwing a wood on the fire helps heat the home, it actually makes the HVAC work harder. Instead, convert the traditional fireplace into a more sustainable option.
Even flooring can be green. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends natural linoleum, FSC-certified wood and advises homeowners to ditch the glue in favor of nails or click-lock flooring.
Paint can be eco-friendly, too. When painting the walls, opt for paint that is free of harmful chemicals. Some of the brands highlighted by the Good Trade include Clare Paint, The Real Milk Paint Co., Backdrop, ECOS Paint, and Sherwin-Williams Harmony.
Not all kitchen countertops are great for the environment. Some are made of plastic laminate, which isn’t the best choice for going green. What are the most sustainable countertop materials? Better Homes & Gardens included bamboo, reclaimed wood, recycled glass and stainless steel among its picks.
Don’t flush money down the toilet! Opt for eco-friendly toilets to save water and money. Leafscore rounded up the most eco-friendly options and Toto Toilets was the site’s top pick. The runner up was Kohler Toilets and Nature’s Head Composting Toilets was named the best composting toilet.
Going green starts at home and in the home. Homeowners can add eco-friendly upgrades to their home to increase sustainability and energy-efficiency. While installing solar panels and geothermal heating systems could be an expensive investment, there are also many inexpensive ways to help transform the home into a green retreat. Infuse affordable green eco consciousness into the home by choosing eco-friendly toilets, paint or countertops then embrace bigger projects when and if the budget allows.