How to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly, Energy-Efficient

Posted by Dave Kotler on Tuesday, January 25th, 2022 at 11:52am.

Energy-Efficient and Eco-Friendly Home IdeasWith the environment becoming a greater source of concern for homeowners across the country, many are turning to environmentally friendly materials to build their homes and looking for ideas to improve the energy efficiency of their existing homes. As the demand for green building materials and energy-efficient products has grown, so has the number of choices. Here's what homeowners need to know.

Environmentally Friendly Building Ideas

These days, homeowners can reduce their energy usage and their carbon footprint by building with sustainable materials like smart products, locally sourced stone and low flow bathroom fixtures.

Locally Sourced Stone

Stone is an environmentally friendly material for a variety of reasons. It's durable and timeless, so it's rarely wasted. Even after decades of use, well-maintained stone is still beautiful. Homeowners use stone in their bathrooms, kitchens, foyers and fireplaces. Good stone will outlive the house that it's used in, but luckily it's also recyclable. When it's no longer needed for its original purpose, it can be re-used for something else.

Stone is heavy and hard to transport, so it requires a lot of energy to haul from one place to another. This is the advantage of locally sourced stone: stone that travels short distances is truly environmentally friendly.

Low-E Windows

Low-E windows are one of the latest innovations in window technology. Low-E coatings prevent heat from penetrating the window during the warm times of year and also prevent interior heat from escaping the home in winter. Coupled with double or triple panes that have been filled with gas, low-E coatings can dramatically improve a home's efficiency and comfort.

Smart Products

Smart products are very popular right now because they combine convenience with environmentally-friendly technology. There are a variety of smart products on the market today. Some examples of smart products that can reduce energy consumption include:

  • Smart thermostat. Smart thermostats "learn" the behaviours of the homeowner so the thermostat can keep the home perfectly comfortable in the most efficient way possible.
  • Smart blinds. Smart blinds can be set on a schedule that will lower and raise the blinds based on the movement of the sun.
  • Smart lights. Smart light bulbs will turn on and off based on the preferences of the homeowner and can be turned on or off remotely, so homeowners can always control how much electricity is used for lights.

More smart products are coming out all the time. They're perfect for homeowners who want to keep their homes on the cutting edge of technology while also keeping their house environmentally friendly.

Recycled Steel

Steel is an excellent building material that can be used again and again. It's used in the frame of the home and can be found in other places as well. Recycled steel is known for being an excellent material to use in areas prone to earthquakes, and is also very durable in windy conditions. Best of all, using steel can save trees.

Low Flow Bathroom Fixtures

Once upon a time, toilets used over 13 litres per flush. These days, bathroom toilets can use as little as 4.8 litres per flush. Using low flow fixtures helps conserve water and reduce water bills. In addition to low flow toilets, there are lots of other fixtures that can be used to save water. Faucet aerators, low-water washing machines and other fixtures can all help keep a home owner's water bills low and manageable.

Cool Roofing

The choice of home roofing colour and materials can make a big difference for an environmentally friendly house. Just as the black asphalt will get much hotter than light gray cement on a sunny afternoon, so will a dark gray roof become warmer than a near-white roof. It's said that white-coloured cool roofing can dramatically reduce the temperature of the attic in summer, which in turn can reduce the burden on the home's HVAC costs. In fact, a cool roof can reduce a homeowner's cooling costs by as much as 15%.

Rammed Earth

Rammed earth is a method of building walls by compacting earth into formwork to force it into a wall shape. Since rammed earth is nothing but earth, water and a stabilizer, it's incredibly environmentally friendly. It's also a highly durable material that can last for over a thousand years (example: the Great Wall of China). Homeowners looking for a green, inexpensive and tough building material can do well with rammed earth.

There are a variety of different ways that homebuyers and homeowners can make their property more environmentally friendly. Working with a capable contractor can help. If you're a homeowner who would like to know more about green home building products, contact an experienced contractor today.

Energy-Efficient Upgrades for Existing Homes

No one wants to overspend on their power bills, but investing in new equipment or making drastic changes to a home may seem like it's not worth the hassle or the expense. However, not all steps are difficult to complete and homeowners might be surprised at just how far technology has advanced when it comes to energy efficiency. It's almost always better to make the effort to begin a home improvement project to remodel and upgrade the preexisting systems rather than keeping the current systems as is.

Better Attic Insulation

Homeowners are losing about 35 percent of their air (whether hot or cold) through their walls. This is always going to be frustrating for owners who would rather not pay to heat or cool the outside air. There really isn't much that can be done about the walls either as they're difficult to access and treat. There are ways to insulate them, but the cost and the effort it takes to do so are almost never recommended. Instead, look toward insulating the attic to increase energy efficiency in your home. Spray foam is usually an excellent option because it expands to hit every nook and cranny for maximum protection.

Use Two-Stage Furnaces

When a family is away at work and school, it may seem tempting to turn off the HVAC system entirely until people get back. However, this ultimately increases energy bills because of the extra work the system has to do to bring the room back to the desired temperature. A two-stage furnace will control the temperature in each room so residents are always comfortable without wasting energy. It can be programmed by the owner so that it takes into account both weekend and weekday schedules. Some furnaces will actually adjust the temperature based on the family's habits for even better control.

Install Faucet Aerators

A faucet aerator will add air into the water from the tap, which reduces its rate of flow without reducing the pressure the user feels. The device is a screen that can be placed over the faucet to slow down the amount it produces. It will also decrease splashing or messes that an unsuspecting guest may face. An aerator is inexpensive and can have a significant impact on water bills. There are aerators that can restrict usage to as low as a gallon a minute, which is more than half of what a normal faucet produces.

Change the Lighting

LED lights (like smart lights) can be an excellent resource when it comes to saving a homeowner on their electricity bills, even if the initial expense of the bulbs tends to put people off. While they do cost more, they're one of the most efficient ways to light a home besides pure sunlight. Plus, LED lighting is also designed to last for a long time. Most bulbs stop working once their primary fuel source has burned out, but an LED bulb will degrade extremely slowly over time. It also gives an owner a long warning for when they need to change out their bulb.

Add Film and Other Protections to Windows

Just putting window film on windows can save a homeowner up to 14 percent on heating bills. It's a simple and extremely cost-effective step to take. However, if homeowners really want to save as much as possible, it's recommended they go the extra mile to caulk and weatherstrip them as well. In addition, putting up heavy quilted drapes can also insulate the home and keep all the unwanted elements where they belong.

Help the Environment and Your Wallet

Homeowners are increasingly monitoring their carbon footprint. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to make their home more environmentally friendly. In addition to improving quality of life and helping the environment, these products also improve property values and make homes more desirable when the time comes to sell.

Dave Kotler

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