The Rise of Green & Eco Homes
"Green homes" or houses which are designed to be eco-friendly were until recently thought of as a niche product for the rich. But with the increase in fuel prices driving up energy costs throughout the world, green and eco friendly homes are finally beginning to capture people's attention as a viable solution. Not only do such homes help bring down the cost of living, but also combat climate change by reducing energy consumption, and using environmentally responsible materials.
What are eco homes?
A green home is simply a building which is designed to be environmentally friendly and sustainable from the ground up. These buildings are made using processes and materials that are inherently resource-efficient, which are adhered to every step of the structure's lifecycle ranging from its design to construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and even demolition. While this may seem like a somewhat new concept at face value, it is the logical evolution of classical architecture theory which require buildings to be economical, utilitarian, durable, and comfortable to live in.
Eco friendly homes offer many advantages that conventional buildings do not. They improve air and water quality, are healthier to live in, decrease waste, conserve natural resources and reduce strain on local infrastructure. From a financial perspective, green buildings also come with lower operating costs thanks to better, more efficient utilisation of power.
In the US, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) are a set of ratings to help ascertain whether the design, construction, operating and maintenance of a building may be considered eco friendly or not. The ratings have been created by the US Green Building Council1 which provides certification to buildings. Many US federal agencies, state and local governments either require or reward LEED certifications as well.
How can you make your home more eco-friendly?
While a very serious investment will be required to make your home worthy of a LEED certificate, it does not mean you cannot make your home more eco friendly at a budget. As high energy consumption is one of the main drivers of the eco friendly house movement, you might want to make your home more energy efficient first...
Consider replacing any incandescent lighting with LED (Light Emitting Diodes) or CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lighting) bulbs. Both of these are far more energy efficient than an incandescent and last longer too. A LED bulb can have a lifespan of 60,000 hours as against 1,500 hours of a typical incandescent. A 6-8 watt LED bulb can also produce the same light as a 60 watt incandescent. While LED bulbs do cost more upfront, they pay you back in savings over their life. It is also worth noting that incandescent lights are no longer manufactured in the US as of 2014.
Next, make it a habit to keep the blinds open during the day. 10% energy can be saved by letting sunlight into your home. Using rugs on wooden floors can provide a measure of insulation bringing down your electricity bills by 4%-6%. A programmable thermostat is a pretty common feature in green homes and you should think about investing in one. These can monitor a house's temperature and intelligently control it, turning the heat up or down depending on usage.
A LOT of energy goes wasted due to our electronic devices and small appliances remaining on past their utility. Extension cords can be of good use here as you can turn off multiple devices with one switch.
Speaking of appliances, look for those with an "Energy Star Certified" sticker when you go shopping next time. An Energy Star rating is provided by the government to appliances which meet a set of specific energy efficiency and ecologically supportive criterias. Ratings are given on a basis of 1 to 5 stars. An appliance with a 5 star sticker will be the most efficient and environmentally friendly product in its category.
Next, you can compost your kitchen refuse instead of throwing it away. Scrap such as vegetable and fruit peel, egg shells, coffee ground and even paper towels can be composted. You can later use this in gardens, or even sell to gardeners and farmers. Composting can reduce landfill waste which produces methane, a greenhouse gas and since much of the waste is incinerated it also stops toxic chemicals from entering into the atmosphere.
Finally, consider opting for solar power. The price of solar panels has been falling steadily and today they are cheaper than ever! A solar house can generate its own electricity which reduces your dependence on fossil fuel fired electricity generation plants, bringing down greenhouse gas emission. Paired with solar financing, you can use free power from the sun to bring down your electricity bills, and help save our environment. It may even be said that modern green and eco homes are quite incomplete without solar power!
Interested in finding out more on how you too can go solar? Verengo solar has helped thousands of homeowners harness the power of the sun to live on their own terms while helping the environment and we will be happy to help you too!
Start by getting a free solar quote from us. It will only take a minute of your time and you will know how much savings you can expect by going solar. We will also be glad to answer any querries you might have as well.
1LEED U.S. Green Building Council, http://in.usgbc.org/leed
What Can You Save With Solar?
With no end in sight for soaring electricity rates, your switch to solar will secure affordable power for your home & family for years to come.