With the rising costs of energy and the ongoing debate over climate change, many home owners are adding energy efficient smart technologies to their homes. Smart homes and green buildings are becoming more prevalent in neighborhoods across the county
If the phrase “eco-friendly home” makes you think of an off-the-grid hippie hut on one hand, or a bespoke LEED Platinum palace for those with
‘s budget on the other, we have news for you. Greening your home is easier than ever—and more convenient than taking on a full-blown renovation. If your 2017 bucket list includes learning how to go green, you’ve come to the right place.
The benefits of green upgrades, no matter the size, are far-reaching for both your global footprint and your wallet.
“You’ll have a home that is more comfortable, more durable, with lower energy bills,” says
, a real estate broker in Mission Viejo, CA, and a National Association of Realtors® Green Designee, a distinction given to
who have completed training on energy-efficient and sustainable homes. “These upgrades will also be valuable if you ever decide to sell,” she says.
Here’s the scoop from green industry experts on the latest ways to slash your energy bills—and to do so while clearing your earth-conscious conscience!
Make your home a passive house
Forget LEED certification—the newly coveted green home credential is the deceptively named passive house standard. Unlike LEED certification, which speaks to how green the construction process was, a passive house is rated by how energy-efficient it will be when people are actually living in it.
“A passive house minimizes heating and cooling needs because it is sealed air-tight, meaning temperature-controlled air doesn’t leak out,” explains
, a passive-house builder in San Francisco.
Get smart (home tech, that is)
Leaving a light on here or there causes small but significant increases in the size of your carbon footprint and your energy bill, but new technology can stop those little expenditures.
Filling your home with smart products is easy and more convenient than ever now that home improvement stores like Home Depot have started stocking whole sections with smart home products.
Choose the right paint
Volatile organic compounds are chemicals found in many
and building materials that easily vaporize and may pose health risks. Until recently it was gospel that the green-minded should choose low- or no-VOC paint, but those labels are too vague to mean much, says
, owner of Amicus Green Building Center in Kensington, MD.
“Because of the way the government defines VOCs, many concerning chemicals aren’t covered,” he says. “Instead, choose paints that are no-VOC
don’t contain solvents, ethylene glycol, acetone, or formaldehyde.” Some great brands include AFM Safecoat, Mythic, Colorhouse, ECOS, and Bioshield.
Go native with your landscaping
Today’s sustainable landscaping is less cookie-cutter and more tailored to your climate.
“The most eco-friendly backyard features plant and grass species that are native to the area where you live,” says
of FORM LA Landscaping. “They thrive without chemical pesticides and fertilizers and need little water.” Rainfall during a normal year is usually enough.
According to Aoyagi, replacing a traditional lawn with native grasses will require 50% to 70% less water and save you approximately 60 hours per year in maintenance, for a savings of up to $3,500 in thirsty climates.
Get an energy audit
Greening your home isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, and a certified energy auditor can suggest upgrades that will lower your energy costs.
“Often, the rebates you’ll receive from your utility company or on your taxes will offset the costs of the audit,” says Oldroyd.
reports the average cost to hire a home energy auditor is $373.
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