You may have seen signs recently saying “Every Day is Earth Day.” The actual holiday is on April 22nd, but the saying couldn’t be more true. The decisions we make on a daily basis has a huge impact on the health of the Earth we all call home.
It may seem like an overwhelming task, but if everyone made just a few more eco-conscious choices at home it would make a real difference. Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather also makes a good point by reminding homeowners that green investments at home save money while conserving energy. Plus, energy efficient home features can boost the value of your house.
Do your part to make the planet healthier with these 8 environmentally friendly home features suggested by the experts at Redfin.
Environmentally Friendly Home Feature #1 – Opt for Energy Efficient Appliances
According to the Energy Information Agency’s 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, refrigerators alone account for 7% of end use in a home. Using ENERGY STAR appliances is an easy way to cut electric use. There are all sorts of appliances that have been awarded the EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification from TVs to freezers.
Smart technology is another way to make appliances more energy efficient. More and more appliances are being built with smart features that optimize efficiency and even send alerts if something is off track.
Environmentally Friendly Home Feature #2 – Smart Heating and Cooling
There’s one thing is the home that uses a lot more energy than appliances. Air conditioning accounts for 17% of electricity end use and space heating accounts for another 15%.
Unfortunately, a significant portion of that energy use could be wasted. Inadequate insulation, leaky ductwork, air leaks and windows can all influence the efficiency of heating and cooling a home. To prevent wasting energy, make sure you have enough insulation in the attic. Fiberglass insulation can easily be added without hiring a professional. Next, weatherize around the doors and windows to plug up any air leaks. Finally, consider adding a tint to the windows to reflect UV rays and reduce heat transfer.
For more advice check out our post on 10 ways to stay cool and use less energy in spring.
Environmentally Friendly Home Feature #3 – LED and CFL Bulbs
One of the first things every homeowner should do is replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with LED or CFL bulbs. This is an improvement that really does pay for itself. Light-emitting diode (LED) and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs use a fraction of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs. They also last much longer – between 20,000-50,000 hours. Fewer bulbs over the years means there’s also less trash in the landfill.
Environmentally Friendly Home Feature #4 – Water Conservation Tools
In some areas of the country water conservation is a top concern. So much so, there are tight lawn watering restrictions and citywide programs to reduce water usage. You can do your part to conserve water by using a smart irrigation system that is customized to your lawn. Low-flow toilets and faucet adapters are another way to reduce water use inside.
Environmentally Friendly Home Feature #5 – Solar Panels and Thermal Systems
The sun is a powerful source of energy that we can tap into through the use of solar panels. It’s an investment, but a solar panel system can provide all the electricity a household needs each month. You may even be able to sell excess energy back to the grid. However, proper panel placement is key. How the solar panels are set up will determine how much electricity is generated.
Solar-powered thermal systems are another way to save up to 60-70% on your utility bills. The system uses the hot sun to warm water rather than gas or electricity.
Environmentally Friendly Home Feature #6 – Electric Car With Charging Port
For most people, their car is an extension of their home. And if you have an electric car your home is also your fueling station. Charging an electric car at home will increase the amount of electricity that’s used, but overall it’s good for the planet. An electric car uses less energy than an air conditioner, and it doesn’t emit carbon monoxide like a gas-powered vehicle. If you get your electricity from solar panels, then it’s the greenest way to get around.
Environmentally Friendly Home Feature #7 – Locally-Sourced Building Materials
If you’re building a home, adding an addition or doing a remodel make locally-sourced materials a priority. Locally-sourced materials such as wood and stone are materials that are found in your immediate region. Because they are transported a short distance, it minimizes the eco footprint.
Other ways to use locally-sourced materials include repurposing, reclaiming and recycling. Using these options dramatically reduces waste for a greener home.
Environmentally Friendly Home Feature #8 – LEED Certification
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The designation is given to structures that meet guidelines for using sustainable materials and building techniques. Anyone who is in the market to buy an energy efficient new home should consider using architects and builders that specialize in LEED building.
Getting LEED certification is both a direct and an indirect way to help clean up the environment. It supports the construction of more energy efficient structures and helps promote the concepts of energy efficient design while increasing awareness about the U.S. Green Building Council.
How green are the homeowners in your city? Check out Redfin’s list of the greenest cities to see if your area made the cut! Whether or not your city is on the list, Spark Energy’s green electricity and natural gas plans can make your home more environmentally friendly. See if energy plans are available in your area.