Top 10 Eco-Friendly Homebuilding Ideas

Roxanne Hale

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According to a 2020 study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), one-third of US home builders report that they are currently planning green builds for the majority of their projects. If you’re planning to build a new home this year, here are a few green home building ideas to consider.

1. Incorporate Solar panels

Solar energy is a clean, renewable energy resource. Solar panels can be costly upfront, but the long-term savings are tremendous. Check to see if there are any tax breaks or government incentives available in your area that might offset some of the up-front costs. Your wallet will thank you!

2. Cool your roof

A cool roof is much more efficient than standard roofing because it is designed to reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat. Highly reflective paint, gravel coverings, reflective tiles, or shingles are used to lower roofing temperatures. Cool roofs save energy by using less air conditioning and can lower electricity during peak demand and help prevent power outages when electricity needs are at their highest.

3. Reduce Attic Temperatures

Have you ever experienced an attic that is unbearably hot during summertime? A radiant barrier such as TechShield™ installed on attic walls and ceilings can reduce temperatures up to 30 degrees. Laminated aluminum panels will block 97% of the radiant heat entering your attic, which can lower cooling costs and improve your home’s energy efficiency.

4. Energy Star Windows

Your windows should be the “star” of your home! Energy Star windows are more energy-efficient than normal windows because they have coatings that help block the rays of the sun. Energy-efficient windows allow homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint. You can protect the environment AND make your home more comfortable year-round.

5. Get a Smart Thermostat

Installing a smart thermostat makes “cents.” Heating and cooling your home accounts for nearly 50% of your home’s energy consumption. A programmable thermostat helps reduce wasted energy and cuts costs by adjusting heating and cooling when no one is home. Plus, when your HVAC system works more efficiently, you’ll see less wear-and-tear on the system and it will perform longer!

6. Use Zero VOC paint

All paint, unless it is labeled Zero VOC, gives off invisible volatile organic compounds which can impact the air quality in your home. Their mix of chemicals can emit an “off-gas” for up to 10 years. These gasses can cause health issues such as nausea, headache, allergic reactions, respiratory illness, and even certain forms of cancer.

To avoid creating an environmental health hazard in your home, look for Zero VOC paints like Sherwin Williams Harmony or Benjamin Moore Natura paint brands. You and your home will be healthier!

7. Choose Eco-Friendly Lighting

Let your light shine! LED (light-emitting diodes) and CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) use 25% to 80% less energy than traditional candescent lighting. Not only will eco-friendly lighting reduce energy consumption thereby saving money, LED and CFLs have the added benefit of lasting up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs. So you won’t need to change hard-to-reach light bulbs as often!

8. Energy Efficient Appliances

You can reduce your energy consumption, lower your utility bills, and reduce your home’s carbon footprint by using energy-efficient appliances. Your washer and dryer account for 13% of your home's energy use, home lighting accounts for 12%, and your refrigerator uses 4% of your home’s total energy use. The Energy Star rating is the only government-backed standard for efficiency and will use less energy than regular appliances. Check out the Energy Star suggestions here: https://www.energystar.gov/products/appliances

9. Install water-saving plumbing

Committed to using less water? Installing low-flow plumbing fixtures can provide significant savings on your water bill. Besides saving you money, eco-friendly fixtures can save billions of gallons of water across the nation each year. The EPA recommends WaterSense certified fixtures for all toilets, bathroom sink faucets, and showerheads. For help on choosing WaterSense products in your home, visit https://www.epa.gov/watersense

10. Rain barrels

Looking for a way to conserve natural resources? Rain barrels allow you to collect rainwater and store it in a tank until you need it. Rain barrels are a great way to conserve water, but especially useful in drought-prone regions where lawn watering is prohibited. If water usage is expensive in your area, capturing rainwater should also save you money in the long run!

Final Thoughts:

Whether you are committed to being more environmentally friendly or spend less money each year, using eco-friendly products is the way to go.

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Roxanne Hale, owner, and broker of Arthouse has spent over 20 years in the real estate business. Here you'll find a collection of stories about buying and selling real estate & home building advice, housing history, and architecture & design tips. Oh, and some fun personal stories every now and then!

Homewood, AL
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