With growing interests in hybrid cars, organic foods and greener living as a whole, some homeowners have taken the stance that it is time to make upgrades to their living situation to lower monthly costs and reduce their carbon footprint.
The idea of going green or creating a green living space is one that many homeowners strive for, not only to be more environmentally friendly, but also to lower expenses in general and save money. Yet, as advanced as many of the green materials are these days, many people still worry that the investment may turn out to become more costly than beneficial. With so many considerations, from cost of materials, to long-term durability and everything in between, there are many factors to think through when you start to make the switch to going green.
Here are some of the top elements you should consider when moving into or transforming a house to an Eco Home:
AVAILABILITY OF MATERIALS
With the renewed focus on going green, many builders and contractors have resources to purchase green materials. Likewise, many of the big box retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s also carry a wide selection of green materials. However, it is easy to fall into the expectation that these materials will always be available.
Before starting your project or making your budget calculations, find out the availability of the goods you will need to complete it. You may need to pay for shipping which can add to the cost. And while this cost may be worth it for the upgrade, it is important to be aware of it up front.
LOCATION AND CLIMATE
Fargo, North Dakota is prone to drastically different weather conditions than those found in Phoenix, Arizona. Both areas require insulation from extreme temperatures, yet the way this occurs can be different depending on the climate where you live.
For hot climates, you may consider investing in a white roof to help keep your home at a comfortable temperature year round and save on air conditioning expenses and more solid against dust and thunderstorms. But in cold climates, investing in stronger insulation and proper weather stripping may be a more important cost to incur. Regardless, it is important to keep in mind the elements you will be battling as you prioritize projects and improvements.
Even when the climate is the same, every homeowner is different. The needs of a home that has a dual income and no children will be far different than that of a home with a single parent working and many children living in the house with the parents. Therefore, it is important to take into consideration what the individual needs are of your household.
Do you do more laundry? Do you have more people showering and using the toilets? If so, purchasing the right appliances may be a smarter investment for you in the long term than a major renovation. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, if all American homes switched to water efficient fixtures and appliances, the country as a whole could save $18 billion each year. Even just a small portion of that for your individual home is likely significant enough savings to make you consider making a water-saving switch.
The way a home is built has a lot to do with how green the home is. From the number of stories your home has, to the number of windows, there are a lot of design aspects that can change the efficiency of a house.
As you start to consider your plans for home renovation and upgrades, it is important to compare long-term costs far more than short-term costs. Many high-efficiency appliances are slightly more expensive, but the small additional cost can easily be made up for over the long term in water expenses, energy output, and lower usage costs (such as less laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid).
DURABILITY OF THE MATERIALS
In any project, considering how long the materials used will last is just as important. After all, a home that just produces waste in materials that cannot be reused will not be a green home for long. If you invest in something that will only break a few years down the road, it is not a smart investment. Therefore, before each project it is important to consider the strength involved with your eco-friendly materials.
In most cases, contractors know the most sustainable materials that a person can use that are not only environmentally friendly, but also good for your home and long-lasting. For example, fiber cement siding lasts on average three times longer than vinyl siding.
The movement to go green is not singled out to homeowners alone. Government agencies and utility companies are also in support of seeing a cleaner world. For this reason, many of these outside agencies will offer considerable rebates simply for purchasing a more eco-friendly appliance or making specific upgrades to your home. Talk to your local companies to find out what options are available in your area. Not only are these great money-savers for your family, but they also are generally designed to complement the needs of your area.
Protecting the environment is something many homeowners are aware of. If you are looking to go beyond weekly recycling and move toward more permanent ways to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your bills, consider an investment in making your house a greener place to live.
Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind Open Colleges. Her background stems from her exposure to their family owned construction business. She is a lover of minimalist modern designs and architecture. On her spare time, she loves to travel.
Photo credits: Jeremy Levine Design, mark.hogan