If you’re in the market to buy a home, think green. An environmentally friendly house will use less energy and be healthier to live in. It is also likely to have a greater resale value when you come to sell it, as people become more aware of the need to conserve energy for a healthy planet.
Currently, people in the United States spend about $160 billion for home heating, cooling and lighting, more than 20 percent of total energy consumed in the country. Energy often relies on fossil fuels like oil, coal or natural gas. These emit carbon into the air, which contributes to global warming. Yet energy-efficient appliances, for example, can cut energy consumption by 15 percent to 30 percent, according to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). So making a commitment to these and other energy-reduction strategies is doing your part to reduce global warming.
To buy a home that’s as green as possible, you need to know some eco-friendly home buying facts as you look. Here are six.
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1. Some sites can be greener than others
Look carefully at the site itself when you look for homes. Western-facing windows, for example, let in more heat and light than windows that face in other directions. As a result, they will require more energy to cool them.
Landscaping is also a great way to minimize the energy that needs to be consumed. If shade trees can be planted (or currently exist!) close to windows, for example, they will cool the house in the summer and reduce the need for heat in the winter.
The size of your home is also a consideration. The larger the home, the more energy it will require to heat and cool and provide with light.
Also, don’t neglect eco-conscious considerations that have nothing to do with your home itself, but matter to energy consumption overall. Is the house close to public transportation or bike paths, for example? If so, you can reduce your use of fossil fuels when you commute.
2. Look at the roof for energy-saving methods
Solar energy is one of the best ways to reduce energy consumption from fossil fuels. Not every single home, though, has a roof suitable for solar panels. Roofs must be flat. There can’t be any neighboring tall buildings or trees that substantially block sunlight. If you have a suitable roof or area, consult with a contractor about whether solar panels are feasible for the home.
Another roof-top idea for energy conservation is the installation of roof-top gardens or ground cover. If you have a garden, you are living sustainably with your own harvest! Ground cover is easier to grow, and can insulate the roof while eliminating rainwater run-off.
3. Perform an energy audit
To have the most energy-efficient home possible, it’s best to perform an energy audit. The audit will let you know where in the home energy consumption can be improved.
If your attic or windows let in drafts, for example, an energy audit will let you know. You can then insulate the attic and purchase energy-efficient windows to reduce your energy use. This will not only cut down on energy consumed, it will reduce your energy costs.
4. Paint with environmentally conscious materials
Many new homebuyers paint at least part of their new home. Be sure to check that the paint you’re choosing is either free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or uses a low amount. VOCs are harmful chemicals that affect your family’s health and the environment negatively. They can easily be avoided or minimized by being mindful of the products purchased.
5. Use sustainable flooring
If you’re looking for new flooring for your home, be aware of the many sustainable choices. Choosing a new wood floor, for example, causes trees to be cut down. Trees are important to environmental balance. An organization called the Forest Stewardship Council certifies wood flooring to be sustainable, meaning that it comes from forests where harvesting is regulated. Recycled and reclaimed wood also gets made into attractive flooring. When materials are recycled, no new trees are harvested at all.
There are many environmentally friendly materials for flooring that is not wood. Floors made of plant products are renewable and do not use synthetic materials, which may contain oil. Bamboo, sisal and linoleum are all sustainable materials.
6. Buy Energy Star™ products
Energy Star™ products are certified by the EPA to save at least 15 percent in energy consumption. The savings can be as much as 30 percent. If you need to purchase new appliances or large-ticket items for your house, check to see whether an Energy Star™ model is available.
A very large number of household appliances are available as Energy Star™ models, including dishwashers, refrigerators, air purifiers, hot water heaters and more. If you need new windows, buy an Energy Star™ type.
Eco-friendly homes need to be planned for. These six tips will help you choose an eco-friendly home site and maximize its green and sustainable qualities.