Green Makeover: What Your Home Needs to Save Both Money & Energy

In this day and age, sustainable is now synonymous with common sense. Eco-friendly is the cornerstone of most new designs, and there’s no reason your home needs to be left out! If you want to give your home a green makeover, mull over some of these ideas for cutting your home’s footprint.

Green Makeover - Green Makeover: What Your Home Needs to Save Both Money & Energy

Pay Attention to Materials 

Maintenance starts with materials, so doing your research from the get-go can save you a lot of TLC later on down the line. That means things like aluminum-clad windows instead of wood, which won’t need anywhere near the level of care, or natural wood shingle siding, which doesn’t need to be repainted. For a green makeover, you probably also want to keep an eye on reclaimed or recycled, natural, and certification. For woods, for example, look for the label of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which indicates the wood was responsibly harvested. Keep in mind that you may prefer natural to reclaimed, as reclaimed materials may still be off-gassing, but they also offer the benefit of not costing more limited natural resources to produce.

Go Low- or No-VOC 

Speaking of materials, an important factor to look for when picking out woods, paints, sealants, and more, is low- or no-VOC. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are what’s meant by off-gassing. Materials with VOCs release low levels of toxic emissions up to years after installation. That makes no-VOC paint especially beneficial to the health of anyone in your home; VOCs have been linked to a host of health issues, from breathing problems and headaches to cancer and kidney damage.

Switch Out Your Windows 

An often overlooked facet of heating and cooling efficiency is how much insulation your windows provide. Today, triple-glazed has replaced double-glazed, and low-emissivity, or low-e, windowpanes are becoming standard. At up to 50 percent more energy efficient than double pane windows, triple pane windows are worth the added cost, especially with the eco-friendly incentives more and more states are offering to homeowners. It’s definitely worth your time to check around and see what’s available where you live.

Try Passive Solar Design 

While you’re refitting windows, why not consider maximizing the efficiency of their placement? Passive solar design is the architectural concept of utilizing the sun the most effectively, absorbing heat in the winter and protecting from it in the summer. This is done by sizing and facing the aperture, or collector, to face within 30 degrees of true south. That means from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day the room is taking in sunlight. Here comes in the absorber, typically a dark-colored wall or floor made of heat-absorbing material, which transfers this light as heat to the thermal mass, which retains the heat throughout the daylight hours and heats the home passively at night.

To keep it cool in the summer, you’ll need a control, like a roof overhang or awning designed to block the higher angle of the summer sun, or something as simple as low-emissivity blinds. If you can’t move around your windows, think about a Trombe wall: an 8- to 16-inch thick masonry wall with a layer of glass mounted in front, installed on the south side of the house. In much the same manner, the Trombe wall absorbs solar heat throughout the day and radiates it into the home through the night.

Remodeling your house is an adventure in aesthetic changes for most, but it can also be a chance to make your home more energy efficient, healthy for the environment, and healthy for you. If you’re thinking of making big changes, consider incorporating these tips to up the green ante.

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