For new and existing home buyers alike, the options to "green up" homes abound.
Green upgrades on homes offer two-fold benefits. They contribute to a healthier environment, both now and in the future, and they can save homeowners big when it comes to energy costs.
How much impact does a green home have on the environment, you ask? The government reports that “Energy Star qualified homes built in 2009 are the equivalent of:
- Eliminating emissions from 51,645 vehicles
- Saving 312,399,672 lbs of coals
- Planting 85,372 acres of trees, and
- Saving in the environment 612,678,574 pounds of CO2.”
Many homebuyers shy away from green construction and green upgrades because of the upfront cost. But while some estimates have put the construction cost difference at 17 percent, recent estimates from The World Business Council for Sustainable Development put the cost of green construction only 5 percent higher than traditional.
Green building means using recycled, renewable, and native building materials. It also means tapping into the energy sources that nature has to offer, including solar and wind.
Here are a few ideas of simple “going green” ideas to get you thinking.
Energy Star Appliances: Appliances are an easy way to make a home more friendly to the environment. One of the fastest ways to explore your options is to visit energystar.gov . At this government site you can find our more information on tax credits and rebates. As an example of Energy Star appliances and their efficiency, qualified washers use 30 percent less energy and over 50 percent less water.
Toxin-free Paint: Also known as “zero-voc, low-voc, and natural” paint, this is a good option for families that have asthma sufferers. According to the EPA, “Paints, stains, and varnishes release low level toxic emissions into the air for years after application.”
Renewable Flooring: Looking for a beautiful way to incorporate wood flooring into your home? Consider bamboo flooring. How is bamboo a green option? It grows and renews itself quickly, unlikes most woods, making it an ideal and cost effective option for green flooring.
Passive Solar: In effect this option can cost you nothing, if you choose the right designed home. The goal is to design to take advantage of the sun's positioning throughout the year. o that its windows, roof, doors, flooring, etc to take advantage of the sun's position through the year.
Low Flow Toilets: Looking to keep utility costs down in your new home? Low flush toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush versus 3.5 in traditional toilets. That's a lot of water saved. Worried about the efficiency of low flow? There have been major strides made in recent years in improving these toilets. Be sure to talk to your plumber about your options.
Hopefully, these items spur you to seek out your own ways to make your home as green as it can be.