Our planet is in dire straits. The Guardian highlighted a report backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries that states almost two-thirds of the natural systems that support life on Earth are being damaged by humans. One species, humanity, is systematically and rapidly endangering the other 10 million species on the planet. Even if we set aside the damage we are doing to other species; humans are destroying our habitat by damaging the environment. Thankfully, many people have recognized that action needs to be taken if we are going to stop catastrophic climate change. There are many ways people can help the environment, and building eco-friendly homes are one such way. By building green homes, homeowners can do their part in the fight to save the planet. Here are some build trips for creating an eco-friendly home.
How you construct your home is important, but the location of your home is also a key factor in creating an eco-friendly home.
- Avoid building your home facing west, as west-facing homes tend to be warmer due to sun exposure.
- Be mindful of environmentally sensitive locations, such as earthquake, hurricane, or flood zones. Certain areas of the world are more prone to natural disasters than others, but keep potential weather complications in mind when deciding where to build your house.
- Consider how accessible public transportation and shops are from your potential house location. Taking public transportation helps reduce vehicle emissions, but being able to walk to the store is also an eco-friendly way to get around.
Smaller is Better
Smaller homes require fewer materials to construct than larger homes. Even if a large home is made of eco-friendly, using more materials than necessary is wasteful and expensive. Take a hard look at how much space you need in a house, and don’t build a home larger than what you need. In addition to smaller homes being more eco-friendly to build, they are also less expensive to heat and cool. Building a home that is just as large as you need and not any larger is not only eco-friendly but also cost-efficient.
Solar panels are one of the most common forms of renewable energy that can be added to any house. Solar panels use the power of the sun through photovoltaic cells and solar fuses to create electricity. This electricity reduces the amount of electricity your house draws from the grid, which lowers your energy bill. While it is possible to power your house entirely with solar energy and eliminate your monthly energy bill, it is not a guarantee. The location of your house and the size of your solar panel system will dictate how much electricity you can generate. Solar panels are expensive to install, but they will pay for themselves after a few years. There are also government incentive programs and tax benefits to help offset the cost of solar panels.
Seal the Gaps and Insulate
Heating and cooling a house, regardless of house size, will be far more expensive if the house is not properly sealed and insulated. Any small gaps around door and window frames will let air leak out of your house and allow air for creating drafts. You do not want your warm air leaking out or cold air creeping in during the winter. The opposite issue occurs during summer. Ensure that your house builders pay attention to common air leaks, as fixing leaks after a house has been built requires more effort.
Insulation is another key factor in keeping your house at the correct temperature. Heating and cooling account for 50% of a home’s energy usage. Proper insulation will reduce your energy consumption and lower your energy bills. Spray insulation foam tends to be the most effective insulation, but does cost more than traditional fiberglass insulation.
When choosing building materials, whether you are selecting woods or countertops, keep a lookout for sustainable materials. Teak wood, recycled or reclaimed wood, and certified green bamboo are great building materials. The recycled paper combined with resin makes great durable countertops and recycled glass tiles work well in kitchens or bathrooms. Some simple research will reveal a plethora of eco-friendly building materials that you can choose from.
Energy Star Windows
Energy Star is a government-run program that certifies products that meet specific energy efficiency standards. Many different products, such as appliances, building materials, and electronics, are Energy Star certified. Energy Star windows are more energy-efficient than standard windows, meaning that they help reduce the amount of energy your home uses.
Traditional incandescent light bulbs are not energy efficient, so when selecting lights for a new house, it is a better idea to choose LED or CFL bulbs. LED and CFL bulbs use significantly less energy and last far longer than incandescent bulbs making them ideal for an eco-friendly house. LED and CFL bulbs do cost more to buy, but they offer significant savings in the long run.
Many elements go into building an eco-friendly house. Before deciding on building materials, house location, or anything else, do some research to ensure you are exploring all available options. Eco-friendly construction is a booming industry with plenty of resources so you can build the perfect green home.