Green Homes - Good for You, Good for the Environment

Green Homes - Good for You, Good for the Environment

What exactly makes a home "green?" Hint: it has nothing to do with the color it's painted.
A green home is easy on the environment.
It uses less water or energy than the average home, recycles more waste, and uses far fewer lawn and garden chemicals. It saves resources, and in the long run money, too. Lots of things can contribute to making a home green. Important considerations include energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and minimized environmental impact, both at the home site and through efficient use of construction resources.
While some green home features might sound strange to many people, such as using hay bales for walls when building a new house, many are quite mainstream, easy to live with and offer lifestyle benefits that add to comfort and security. According to the Leviton Institute, a good place to start thinking green is lighting. Simply installing some new energyefficient lighting control devices and compact fluorescent bulbs puts you on the road to conserving energy and saving money.
(BOLD)Energy Efficiency
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), improving the energy efficiency of your home could save you anywhere from 10 to 30 percent on your utility bills. With the price of energy these days, that's another good reason to make your home green.
_ Make sure all HVAC systems are up-to-date and in top operating condition. Run them on a schedule to maximize energy savings.
_ Consider a heat pump as an efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners in moderate climates.
_ Install motion sensors for outdoor floodlights and occupancy sensors for indoor lights in hallways, closets, garages, etc.; they keep lights off until needed, saving money, improving security, and offering hands-free operation.
_ Replace simple on-and-off light switches with modern dimmer switches that set a mood and reduce cost; dimming lights by 50% increases savings by up to 40%.
_ Wherever you don't use a dimmer, replace frequently-used incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs.
_ Use ENERGY STAR qualified appliances, insulation, windows, etc.
_ Program your thermostat to run lower during the day when no one is home, or at night when everyone is sleeping.
_ When building a new home, orient the long side facing south, install appropriate glazing and overhangs to maximize solar heating and passive cooling, depending on season.
Indoor Air Quality
_ Breath easy by keeping toxic chemicals out of your home.
_ Avoid paints, cleaning products, and carpets that give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
_ Make sure particleboard, fiberboard, and hardwood plywood substrates meet low formaldehyde emission standards.
_ Provide proper home ventilation, preferably with a heat ventilator.
Minimizing Environmental Impact
_ Kermit the Frog was wrong: it is easy being green. Take steps to reduce your new or existing house's environmental footprint.
_ Use recycled or easily renewable products, such as recycled tiles or bamboo or eucalyptus flooring, whenever possible.
_ Recycle new construction waste on and off site (building an average home creates between 3 to 6 tons of waste).
_ Help preserve on-site water by using permeable materials for parking areas and walkways.
_ Preserve topsoil; plant trees and vegetation native to your area for shade and wind protection.
_ Use pre-cut or pre-assembled building parts whenever possible.