Green Eco-Friendly Homes
As people become more conscious about the environment around them, it makes sense that we bring that consciousness and incorporate eco-friendly practices into our homes. Environmental sustainability and eco-friendly practices follow three basic principles: do not waste, do not harm and give back to the environment. Since so much of our time and consumption of resources are made use of in our homes, it makes sense to follow sustainable practices in building, maintaining and renovating our homes.
When it comes to using eco-friendly practices and material in building, there are numerous ideas that are almost too many to count, but here are a few, general ideas to help get you started in the right direction.
Location and space. Being aware of environmental factors like earth shifting, underground water and flooding potential makes an enormous difference in the type of issues that might arise at a later time. Make the very best use of the square footage of your home by creating a design that avoids the use of too many hallways and wasted space.
Avoid wasting energy. Make use of energy efficient appliances and equipment. Make certain to insulate well, which keeps out both heat and cold and reduces the amount of energy that you need for either. Install energy efficient, insulated windows and doors. Use "on demand" water heaters and low flow plumbing fixtures. Use programmable thermostats that can be set to function at a much lower rate when no one is home.
Make use of natural, renewable resources. Solar, geothermal and wind energy are all natural and renewable resources that neither harm the environment nor become depleted. For example, catching, storing and utilizing rainwater and snow melt is a practical way to provide irrigation for your landscaping.
Make use of recycled materials. "While many designers are focusing on passive and active energy systems, the reuse of recycled materials is beginning to stand out as an innovative, highly effective, and artistic expression of sustainable design." (Metcalf, 2011) Recycled building materials can include anything from empty soda cans to used tires.
These are, by far, only a few of the ways that you can impact the environment through eco-friendly building practices. With some creativity and the right attitude toward conservation, you'll probably come up with a number of your own ideas.
Just like with construction practices, there are certain maintenance practices that are environmentally friendly as well. Keeping the three principles of sustainability in mind, consider these home maintenance ideas as part of your regular maintenance routine:
- Insulation and weatherizing. Making certain that your home is well insulated and free from leaks should be a priority in your home maintenance plan. A proper amount of insulation reduces the amount of energy necessary to maintain your interior environment. Being aware of the cracks where cold or warm air might leak in is also a factor.
- Colour of exterior paint can make a difference. Lighter colours reflect heat and darker colours absorb heat. If you live in a climate that is usually warm, go light; where it is cold, go dark. Use eco-friendly paint.
- Roof materials. Metal, slate and ceramic are the best choices and tend to have a longer life, though they are often more expensive. In the long-run, however, they save you money.
- Landscape strategically. Using trees to create windbreaks or shade can help reduce the amount of energy necessary to heat or cool your home.
- Use cleaning products, fertilizers and insecticides that do not contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment.
Again, this is only a small list of ideas for making your home maintenance more eco-friendly.
If you are considering a renovation, then this is your chance to make use of some of those eco-friendly building practices that we mentioned earlier. Here are three more tips that you can make use of in your renovation.
- Reuse and recycle. Making use of wood, metal, bricks and glass that was removed from gutting a wall or tearing down an exterior structure can be reused in your renovation.
- Replace cabinetry with formaldehyde free products.
- Use low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) or VOC free paint.
In essence, a renovation doesn't mean that you have to waste or throw away the old material, it just gives you an opportunity to repurpose it in a new way in your eco-friendly home.
There are eco-friendly materials and methodologies that can make a difference in the impact that our homes make on the environment. We hope some of the ideas provided spark your creativity and encourage you to find new materials and practices of your own to make your home more eco-friendly.