Building a sustainable home involves more than simply building or renovating in a way that makes your home energy efficient – although this is a huge factor when it comes to being environmentally conscious over a long period of time.
Sustainability also takes into consideration the materials you use to build your home and how those materials affect yourself and the environment as well as how much waste is created during the construction process.
Overall, sustainable homes take environmental impact into account when it comes to design and the materials used.
But that doesn’t mean you have to make your home 100% sustainable in order to be considered sustainable. You can make small changes around the house that will positively impact the environment!
If you’re getting ready to build your new home and are looking for ways to make it more sustainable, or are interested in making environmentally-friendly changes to your existing home, here are some tips you should follow:
1. Use Passive Solar Design
Passive solar design involves using the energy from the sun to heat and cool your home using no mechanical or electrical equipment.
Instead, passive solar design relies on building materials that reflect, absorb, or transmit the sun’s heat. For instance, interior spaces are designed to move the sun-heated air without using fans which reduces the amount of energy needed to heat and cool your home.
2. Install High-Performance Windows
So much of the sun’s heat is gained and lost through your home’s windows. When you install high-performance windows, such as those with double glazing, special coatings, and air-tight construction, your home will achieve better energy efficiency.
If you live in a warmer climate, look for windows with low solar gain. This means that less heat is conducted through the windows into the interior of your home. At the same time, you want to make sure the windows facilitate ventilation as well.
If you live in a colder climate, look for windows with well-insulated frames and a low U-value, which measures the rate of heat flow through the window. The goal is to minimize heat loss and drafts during the colder months.
In both these instances, you will need to rely less on running an HVAC system to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
3. Purchase Energy Efficient Appliances
While your home’s HVAC system is the largest consumer of energy, appliances come in at a close second. With every appliance you own, you pay for the initial cost of the equipment but you also pay for the cost of operating it.
When you buy energy-efficient appliances, you significantly decrease the cost of operation. Consider energy-efficient options when it comes to these appliances that consume the most electricity:
- Clothes dryers
- Water heaters
- Air conditioners
4. Use Eco-Friendly Materials
Part of building a sustainable home means sourcing materials that have as little impact on the environment as possible. This means looking at where the materials come from and how much needs to be sourced from the planet in order to manufacture the materials.
Nowadays, you can find a recycled counterpart to most traditional building materials. For instance, you can purchase 100% recycled countertops or use recycled steel as an alternative to traditional wood frames.
Some recycled products are waste-negative and actually remove more potential waste from the planet than it takes to produce them.
Apart from using recycled materials, you should also consider using eco-friendly materials such as low-VOC or no-VOC stains and varnishes as well as eco-paints.
5. Use Sustainable Roofing Materials
Did you know that traditional asphalt shingles are a petroleum product and their production increases dependency on fossil fuels?
Plus, they need to be replaced every 15-20 years which results in nearly 20 billion pounds of old asphalt shingles being dumped into landfills every year.
Sustainable roofing materials, on the other hand, are beneficial to the environment and last longer than traditional roofing materials. This means that, when you replace your roof with sustainable materials, you will not have to worry about as many repairs or replacements.
6. Install a Drip Irrigation System
Having a yard full of lush and healthy vegetation definitely benefits the environment as well as your home. Vegetation can help keep your home cooler along with creating cleaner air.
However, keeping your yard watered by regularly using your garden hose or sprinkler system quickly cancels out these benefits.
To keep your yard lush and the planet happy, install a drip irrigation system. These systems use gravity to deliver water to plants and focuses on the roots where it’s needed.
You’ll save on electricity by reducing the use of your pump and minimize the waste of water through evaporation.
Building a Sustainable Home
If you’re considering building a sustainable home, or making changes around your own home to be more environmentally friendly, you are taking a huge and wonderful step toward reducing your impact on this planet.
Follow these steps to make your home sustainable, environmentally friendly, and healthy!