As the world becomes more energy-efficient and eco-friendly, sustainable features in houses are becoming a priority. Making your home more sustainable not only increases its value but saves you money in the long term. Reducing energy bills is usually the driving factor behind changes for sustainability and there are a number of things you can do to get your house ready.
When looking to purchase or update a home, these top sustainability tips are important to remember.
- Size: When adding on or starting over, go small. Smaller is always better so long as you don’t sacrifice usefulness. Smaller rooms and smaller living areas require less maintenance.
- Embodied energy: This is defined as the total energy consumed by all processes linked to the building in question. With housing, this means knowing what the architects and builders intend to do to keep embodied energy low. Using locally sourced materials is one way to lower this total energy.
- Landscaping: Most homeowners are aware of the rising costs of landscaping. Sustainable options that require less water and maintenance are now preferred in light of this. Possible options for sustainable landscaping and reduced costs include planting large trees to reduce the use of air conditioning, planting green roofs, and using permeable pavers.
- Insulation and heating: Checking and improving heating and insulation systems is one of the best ways to make a home sustainable and reduce overall costs. Air seal the house by caulking gaps around doors and windows, re-insulate windows, walls, attics, and basements, and opt for an air source heat pump to minimize energy use and the carbon footprint.
- Solar panels: Installing solar panels reduces costs and you get a federal tax credit. Solar panels may not be the most attractive addition to a home but they are valuable when it comes to making your home sustainable and energy efficient.
- Lighting: Rely on natural lighting as much as possible as it is the cheapest option available. When artificial lighting is necessary, use LEDs. Energy-star products are best as they use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than standard products.
- Plumbing: Flushing toilets, showers, and washing dishes all run water right down the drain. More sustainable plumbing involves low-flow toilets and shower heads, aerators, and front-loading washing machines. An additional incentive is that many utility companies offer rebates when water-saving appliances and practices are used.
- Air quality: Make choices that reduce or avoid volatile organic compounds in paint, adhesives, and carpeting. Always use natural products when possible to reduce the risk of poor air quality which impacts sustainability over time.