What Does it Mean To Have a Green Home?
If a home is built Green then it is designed as an environmentally friendly home that is comfortable, durable and also cost-effective to own and operate. These homes should exceed building codes while protecting our environment and giving the homeowner quality living.
Examples of Green Homes can be found at SE 33rd and Powell Rowhouses. These homes are situated in locations that reduce the need for a car. They are within walking distance to mass transit as well as schools and businesses. They have put in dry wells which reuse rainwater. All their water fixtures are low-flow and each home has Energy Star appliances and day light sensors to reduce energy consumption. The roofs are designed to reduce run off and increased insulation by using vegetated roof materials. Even in the construction of the homes, 98% of the waste materials are recycled.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It provides nationally accepted set of standards for green construction. Builders can become LEED certified. The different LEED versions include LEED for Schools, LEED for Homes, and also LEED for New Construction. The LEED for Homes checklist includes things like drought tolerant plants, environmentally preferred products, access to open space, efficient hot water distribution, and durability management. You can find the whole list on the LEED for Homes checklist. http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=3638
Here are some ways you can Green up you home and life.
Take a look at your appliances as they typically use 18% of your total energy bill. If you have an old refrigerator in your garage, you could save as much as $150/year by getting rid of it. If your appliances are over 10 years old then the EPA suggests you replace them with energy efficient models that have the “Energy Star” logo on them. (You might also consider what you put into your refrigerator. If you buy local and organic you will save on the fossil fuel that was burned to get the food to you and you will not have the potential of harmful pesticides and fertilizers.)
Watch the temperature in your home. Each degree below 68 degrees during cold weather saves 3-5% of heat energy. Consider the same effort in your air conditioner by keeping your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher in the summer. Be sure and clean your furnace’s air filter regularly, up to once a month during heavy usage. If you have an older furnace, consider a new one as today’s furnaces are about 25% more efficient than in 1980. Make sure it carries the Energy Star label.
Putting an aerator on all your household faucets and cut your annual water consumption by 50%. Use of a low-flow toilet can save you almost 2 gallons per flush. A couple of lifestyle changes you can make to save water are sweeping your driveways and pathways instead of hosing can save 80 gallons of water or turning off the water while brushing your teeth can save 4.5 gallons each time.
Use compact florescent light bulbs (CFL) because they last 10 times longer and use 66% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb. If you replace a 100 watt incandescent bulb with a 32 watt CFL, you would save $30 over the life of the bulb. Also, don’t forget to unplug appliances when they are not in use and turn off lights when you leave the room or house. It all adds up.
To save trees, always buy 100% recycled paper for all your paper needs. You can get greeting cards and even toilet paper with a high post-consumer waste content which uses less virgin pulp and keeps more waste out of landfills. Spend some time removing yourself from all the junk mail lists that you are on. On an average each person receives almost 560 pieces of junk mail a year which comes to 4.5 million tons nationally according to Native Forest Network. http://www.nativeforest.org/stop_junk_mail/nfn_junk_mail_guide.htm. Also try buying unbleached paper as bleaching creates harmful byproducts which accumulate in our air, water, and soil over time.
Try composting in that it gives your soil the necessary nutrients it needs with using all the synthetic fertilizers and chemicals. A healthy soil is not only important to a healthy plant but it can also minimize weeds. Also, when buying plants look for plants that are native to the area you live so they will require less watering and care.
In conclusion there are numerous steps you can take to help save the environment without changing your lifestyle too much. The above are just a few recommendations but the list in endless. Perhaps challenge your family to come up with 10 ways you are going to become more Green this year. Even better challenge another family member or co-worker to take the challenge with you.
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