Sustainable Home Improvements

In today’s world “go green” encompasses a more impactful meaning than it did even a few short years ago. As society moves toward a more eco-friendly mindset, you might think about how a more sustainable home can help your pocketbook and decrease your carbon footprint. Creating an energy efficient home is an investment. It involves a lot of initial planning and upfront costs. In the long run it should decrease overall energy consumption, improve your home’s comfort, and increase value and desirability at resale. Another benefit, some energy efficient upgrades also qualify for tax credits and reimbursement programs.

If you plan on renovating your current residence or building a home from the ground up, this is an ideal time to optimize energy efficiency opportunities. There are multiple ways to make your home more sustainable. Some of the most popular are water heating, solar energy, lighting and daylighting, air-sealing and insulation, appliances and home electronics, sustainable building materials, and water conserving plants and landscape design.

Water Heating/Tankless Water Heaters

A tankless water heater uses 30 to 50 percent less energy than units with tanks. It can save the average family about $100 each year. It is smaller and more compact than a standard 40 to 50-gallon storage tank. Instead of continuously heating a large water tank, it works by only heating water on demand and allows a continuous supply of hot water (i.e. no more cold showers!)

Solar Panels

According to EnergyInformative.org the U.S solar market grew 76 percent in 2012. This is largely due to the sizeable return on investment savings. In most places, solar energy can save the average homeowner roughly $100 per month in heating and cooling costs. The federal tax credit (extended through 2019) can reduce your tax bill by 30 percent of the total installation cost. In addition, Washington has some of the best state solar incentives. Take advantage of incentives while they last. In addition to saving you money, it creates energy independence and reduces emissions. Solar energy is the cleanest energy source available.

Lighting and Daylighting

This might seem like an obvious choice. Installing energy efficient windows in strategic locations can increase natural light in your home, reduce the need for artificial light, and decrease overall electricity consumption. Skylights have the same effect and are also aesthetically pleasing. Energy savings vary depending on how many windows or skylights are used and where they are placed.

Air Sealing and Insulation

Taking time to ensure your home is weatherized and air-tight will make your home more comfortable and reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool your home. Caulking and installing weather stripping can be an inexpensive DIY project. Caulking is best used for smaller cracks around window frames while weather stripping is more appropriate around door frames and windows that open.

Ensuring the attic and crawl space are properly insulated will help keep your home warm in winter and cool in the summer. Insulation works by conducting heat and maintaining warmth in the existing space. During warmer temperatures, insulation confines cooler air and deflects warm air from entering the home. Depending on how much you increase the R-Value, you may be eligible for rebates from your energy provider. To get the most benefit, be sure the insulation contractor you hire is an approved installer with your local utility service.

Appliances and Home Electronics

Electrical devices account for more than 30 percent of the average energy bill. Energy-efficient or solar powered appliances are designed to greatly reduce energy consumption. When choosing more energy efficient appliances look for the Energy Star labels. These products are designed to use an average of 30 percent less water and 20 percent less energy than their lesser efficient counterparts.

Sustainable Building Materials

When renovating your home for energy efficiency, building materials aren’t always something that initially come to mind. However, like the rest of the energy-saving products above, they can save you money and reduce environmental impact. Sustainable building materials are durable, reusable, and derived from natural sources or recyclable materials. Bamboo is one of the most eco-friendly building materials on Earth. It is a sustainable and attractive wood alternative for many home building applications. It is a fast growing, perennial grass that continues to grow without having to be replanted. It is also prevalent around the world, thus, easy to find. It is particularly durable, making it an excellent choice for flooring or cabinets.

Landscape Water Conservation

Who says you need a machine to save water? Take conservation efforts to your garden by using water-conserving plants. Replacing water thirsty lawns with drought tolerant vegetation saves time on upkeep and money on reducing water usage. Plants such as lavender, sea holly, and kangaroo paw, need little to no water to survive. If you prefer indoor plants, start collecting succulents which only require water once every couple of weeks, or less.

Overall, designing and developing a more sustainable, eco-friendly home takes careful planning and renovating. In the long run, you’ll have a more self-reliant house that naturally saves you money and has a more positive impact on the world.

If you need assistance with any of these projects or upgrades, we can connect you with the appropriate service professionals for your specific needs. Just let us know how we can help by completing our online work request today! 

Cari

Cari Barron, owner and founder of Contractor Hotline, purchased a home in need of various repairs in 2002. The process to find a quality home remodeling contractor proved to be a complex challenge. The first-hand experience was the inspiration behind founding Contractor Hotline in 2006. Connect with her on Google+

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