What Is A Green Home And How Can I Create One?
Morgan McBride4-Minute Read
January 15, 2021
Green living and sustainability have been trending for a few years now. As people grow more aware of human impact on the environment, it’s natural that they look for ways to live a less-destructive life. One major way that homeowners can lower their environmental impact is by creating a greener home.
What Is A Green Home?
A green household is one that works to minimize its impact on the planet. This is often done by reducing the amount of resources required to keep a home running. That can mean everything from winter-proofing your current home with weatherstripping and caulking to keep out winter’s cold to designing your home to run exclusively on renewable energy sources.
What Does It Mean To Be Green?
Although we’ve all seen pictures of brand-new, luxury green homes, there’s plenty to be done to make our current homes if not green then certainly greener. There are many steps that can be taken to make a home more energy-efficient, improve air quality, and reduce water consumption. Focusing on these three steps will make it easy to make any home greener. While some of these require an up-front cost, they will reduce your expenses long-term and reduce your environmental impact.
Energy Efficiency + Conservation
When most people talk about green homes, they’re referring to energy efficiency, although many would argue that that’s just one aspect.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, the average single-family home uses 10,649 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year. This represents about 21% of all electricity used in the United States. So, if all homeowners reduced their energy consumption, it could have a big impact on total energy consumption for the whole country.
Using less traditional energy can lead to less air pollution, reduce a home’s carbon footprint, and can cut energy bills dramatically. There are two ways to reduce energy use: energy efficiency and energy conservation.
Energy efficiency means using technology to develop tools that use less energy to accomplish the same thing. Here are some ideas for creating a more energy-efficient home:
- Install energy-efficient windows and doors
- Add extra insulation to walls, crawl spaces, or attics
- Replace caulking or weatherstripping on windows and doors
- Have air ducts inspected to ensure that air is moving well around the home and that the temperature is even throughout
- Select energy-efficient equipment for heating and cooling
- Upgrading to LED or energy-efficient light bulbs
- Replacing old appliances with newer, more energy-efficient versions
Energy conservation means altering your habits to use less energy. Here are some behavior-based ideas for energy conservation:
- Turn the lights off when you leave a room
- Unplug an appliance when not in use
- Install outdoor lights on motion sensors so they only illuminate when needed
- Turn off the water when you’re not using it
Indoor Air Quality
Researchers are finding more and more links between indoor air quality and illness, including respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer. There are ways to improve indoor air quality by reducing or eliminating the use of:
- Fuel-burning combustion appliances
- Tobacco products
- Deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation (removal of asbestos should be done by a licensed contractor)
- Newly installed flooring, upholstery or carpet
- Cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
- Products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
- Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
- Excess moisture
- Outdoor air pollution
Many parts of the U.S. experience water shortages and drought on a regular basis. The EPA’s WaterSense program helps homeowners and buyers identify water-efficient products. Here are suggestions to reduce water usage in the home:
- Take showers instead of baths
- Don’t set sprinklers on timers but manually turn them on when needed
- Don’t run washing machines and dishwashers until you have a full load
Building Or Buying A New Green Home
If you’re building a new house, this is the perfect time to make it a green home. There are many new construction materials and procedures used by green builders. Ratings systems like LEED and IndoorAirPlus help homeowners identify green homes for sale. The EPA has IndoorAirPlus guidelines for builders, and technologies. The U.S. Green Building Council also has a Green Homes Guide. If you’re building a new home, consider including the following green materials:
- Bamboo flooring
- Reclaimed wood
- Ferrock – concrete alternative
- Low-E windows
- Recycled steel framing
- Sheep’s wool – insulation alternative
- Recycled glass countertops
- Low-VOC paint
- Solar panels or solar shingles
- Mycelium – mushroom-based particle board replacement
- Cross-laminated timber
The Cost To Go Green
While upgrading your home to be greener comes with costs, there are ways to offset them. All levels of the U.S. government offer some form of tax incentives or rebates to encourage homeowners and home buyers to go green. The FHA and Fannie Mae offer loans to pay for green home upgrades. Homeowners can also pay for green upgrade costs with a cash-out refinance or a home equity loan.
Going Green Helps You Save Green
Green living might be trending, but it has many positive long-term impacts. Creating an eco-friendly home can save you money in the long run and might even increase the value of your home. Focus on energy efficiency and conservation, improving air quality and reducing water consumption to create the green home of your dreams. Be sure to visit the Rocket Homes® blog to learn more about home ownership.
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