Although there are a ton of things that one can do to “green” their home, when it comes to the big stuff, a lot of people are at a loss as to what are the most important things to do. Sure, we can all switch to biodegradable soaps and non-toxic cleaners, but what about the “bones” of the house…how can we be sure that our house itself is environmentally-friendly? Here are ten biggies when it comes to owning and keeping a “green” home:
1. Low-VOC interior paints and wood sealants.
2. Spray foam insulation, such as cotton from recycled blue jeans, is incredibly efficient and non-toxic. Remember that pink stuff with the fiberglass in it in your parents attic? Yea, me too…its not good.
3. Radiant heat throughout the house stops you from having to blow in hot air through ductwork, which reduces the amount of airborne particles that you breathe all day.
4. Make sure your windows and doors are sealed. This is especially important in the winter when you want to stop the warm air from escaping.
5. I have said it before and I will say it again…compact fluorescent lightbulbs are the way to go. They last 10 years, use 10% of the energy of normal bulbs, and save you money on your electric bill. They come in tons of different sizes and wattages now, so there is no excuse not to put them in every light socket in your house.
6. If it is time to buy new appliances, only buy Energy Star rated ones. You can find these almost anywhere appliances are sold.
7. If you are building a home, try to use reclaimed wood as much as possible. Some of the easiest places to use reclaimed wood is for wood floors and kitchen cabinets. Be sure the wood is treated with non-toxic coatings to protect them.
8. In the summer, open up those windows! A lot of times the air inside your home is dirtier than the air outside, so be sure to allow cross breezes to come through your house and clean it out. If you are building new or adding on, putting in celestory windows that can be opened when the house gets warm, allowing the hot air to escape up top to save on your cooling costs.
9. Instead of using new or reclaimed wood as mentioned above, consider using finished concrete. Requires no trees, less maintenance, and they are cooler in the summer when it is hot out, and in the winter they can absorb heat coming through a window to heat your space up. Plus, they work great with radiant floor heating.
10. Low flow plumbing fixtures and water filters will save water and make it cleaner for you to use. The less water you waste, the less your water bill will be, and with water filters installed, you don’t need to buy bottled water, which places an incredible burden on the planet with all the plastic that is used.
I know there are a ton more things that make for an eco-friendly home, but I wanted to point out a few of them to you aspiring “greens” out there. I get emails all the time from people asking what they can do other than just changing a lightbulb…oftentimes they want bigger and better solutions, so I hope that these help you guys out!
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