Living in an eco-friendly home is beneficial to both the planet and its occupants. Eco-friendly homes offer comfort, durability, lower energy bills, and an increase in value when it comes time to resell. Here are a few simple tips to make a home eco-friendlier:
Volatile organic compounds are chemicals found in many common paints and building materials that vaporize and represent health risks for not only humans but also the native plant and animal life surrounding the home. There have been low-VOC or no-VOC paints on the market for some time, which have been the choice for those opting for the eco-friendlier route. Some people who choose to build eco-friendly have said that the labels on these products are too ambiguous, and it’s better to just choose paints that are no-VOC and don’t contain solvents, such as ethylene glycol, acetone, or formaldehyde.
The eco-friendliest backyard features plant and grass species that are native to your area. These plant species are easily able to thrive without chemical pesticides and fertilizers and need little watering. This reduces the potential for animals to ingest dangerous chemicals, and also for potentially dangerous compounds to run off into the local water system. You also don’t need to worry about the additional risk of drought or flooding.
Smart Home Technology
There are new smart home devices that will let you turn your lights, Bluetooth speakers, television, or anything that utilizes energy on and off from anywhere in the world using your smartphone. There are smartphone-controlled wall outlets, slow cookers, humidifiers and more. Many home improvement stores have started to stock entire sections with smart phone products, making them even easier to find. Smart Home devices are also user-friendly, so it doesn’t take a tech genius and five remotes to get the system running.
In contrast to LEED certification, which is based on how green the construction process was, a passive house is graded based on how energy-efficient it is expected to be when there are people occupying it. “A passive house minimizes heating and cooling needs because it is sealed air-tight, meaning temperature-controlled air doesn’t leak out,” explains Ewen Utting, a passive-house builder in San Francisco.
Converting an existing home into a fully passive home would likely require a complete renovation, but there are ways to save energy. Homeowners can replace outside door thresholds, replace old windows with new double- or triple-pane windows, or cover existing panes with a reflective coating that will deflect heat in the summer months.
Deciding whether or not solar panels are a good option for a home depends on the climate, the layout of the roof on the home, and whether the home is in a state which will offer a rebate for the panels. For a breakdown of costs and potential benefits, a homeowner should contact a local solar expert to discuss their home.
A certified energy auditor can assess a home and suggest upgrades that will lower the energy costs of the home. The Residential Energy Services Network has a searchable directory of certified energy auditors in each state across the United States. It is suggested that a homeowner looks for an auditor that is certified to give home a Home Energy Rating System index rating, which is essentially a score of the home’s energy efficiency. A lower HERS index score can increase the resale value of a home.