There has never been a better time to go green with your home than today. Growing awareness of environmental challenges is driving more people to choose green options in their homes. And with greater demand for eco-friendly housing, the costs of green buildings have fallen, and more builders are offering this solution. Constructing an eco-friendly house is a lot more possible than it used to be.
Also, green buildings now come with a lot more options. Homeowners can go all out by building a certified “Green Home” or include green building elements in their existing homes. Whichever path they choose, they will enjoy substantial savings in their energy bill and increase their home’s value, says T-Square Real Estate. Even though building green still costs more than constructing a traditional home, an energy-efficient house is far cheaper to operate.
This article highlights five of the top green home building ideas to consider for your home.
1. Begin with building design
Constructing a green building begins with the home’s design. As a rule, smaller rooms are more energy-efficient than expansive spaces. This doesn’t mean cramped rooms, but it does mean more creative designs that make better use of space, utilizes more of the outdoors, and get more out of existing rooms. Brilliant ideas for designing smaller homes include using window seats to improve functionality and clerestories to introduce more light. Modular building techniques also improve energy efficiency while reducing costs.
Design principles for an eco-friendly home should also consider the land’s characteristics, the building’s orientation, and landscaping. This might mean using shady landscaping and avoiding a westward orientation to reduce sun exposure. Other options include planting trees on the southern and western sides of the home to block direct sunlight from reaching the house.
2. Go Solar
Solar remains the ultimate source for generating clean energy. But going solar is not as simple as installing solar panels on a building’s roof. Other things go into determining the efficiency of solar panels, such as geography and building orientation. Buildings with south-facing roofs sloping at 15-40 degrees perform best. Roof size and shape also matter.
But to get the most from solar installations, it should be part of the building design from the beginning. And in place of solar panels, it is possible to use solar shingles, an emerging option. They offer the same durability as regular shingles, provide better aesthetics than solar panels, and eliminate the need for two separate investments in shingles and solar panels.
3. Take advantage of geothermal energy
Geothermal heating and cooling work by moving heat instead of creating it. The HVAC system that most homes use functions by generating heat through combustion. But geothermal-based HVAC systems use heat that already exists inside the earth’s surface. This is possible because the earth is significantly warmer beneath its surface than it is on the surface. Below the surface, the earth maintains a constant temperature of 50°F – 60°F.
Geothermal energy is the name for the heat that comes from within the sub-surface of the earth. And this energy can be harnessed via a geothermal heat pump and used to warm or cool the house. Geothermal heat pumps transfer heat into homes by pumping water or a refrigerant into the earth’s sub-surface. The heated water or refrigerant then warms the home. Reversing this process in summer cools the house.
4. Install a cool roof or living roof
Roofing materials significantly affect the home’s energy efficiency through the way they reflect, trap, or release heat. Cool roofs are better at reflecting the sun’s energy. They cool faster at night and do not retain heat as long as standard roofs. Common materials used in the construction of cools roofs include; white tiles, terracotta, slate, special membranes, and metals. The energy efficiency of each material varies, as well as their cost and durability.
Another roofing option for improved energy efficiency is the living roof. A living roof uses plants in place of shingles on the building’s roof. Plants growing on the roof of a regular house means trouble, but a living roof uses plants to insulate and cool the home. They also serve as a rainwater filtration system.
5. Improved water management
The average home uses a lot of water, much of which goes to waste. Water capturing and conservation systems help to solve this problem. Low-flow faucet aerators reduce the flow of water without affecting water pressure. Tankless water heaters heat water as it passes through the electric coil. They dispense of the need to wait for the water to get heated, which often results in heating gallons of water without using it. Energy star-rated washing machines use 33% less water and 25% less energy than regular washing machines.Rainwater capturing devices also collect rainwater from roofs and store it in cisterns or rain barrels for water features, sprinklers, toilets, and garden irrigation. Rain gardens offer an effective way to get the most out of rainwater runoff. They collect runoff from roofs, lawns, patios, and driveways; and allow 30% more water penetration into the soil