The benefits of an eco friendly house are plenty and quite advantageous for both homeowners and the environment alike. Implementing eco friendly initiates into a house usually means costs savings in the long run as many of these strategies aim to reduce energy consumption. Although there may require a slight change in the way you live or a larger upfront cost, building an eco friendly house from scratch or upgrading your existing home, offers a variety of advantages. The following tips offer a few ways to help you move towards a greener way of living.
12 Tips For an Eco Friendly House Index
- Size Matters
- Using Reclaimed / Green Materials
- Lower the Heat
- Reduce Standby Power Waste
- Wash Clothes in Cold Water Or Use a Wash POD
- Use Natural or Low VOC Paint
- Use an Eco-Friendly Toilet / Shower Head
- Upgrade Your Windows
- Use Eco Friendly Appliances
- Wind / Solar Energy
- Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
One of the biggest causes of lost heat in a home is due to improper or insufficient insulation. A sub-optimally insulated attic is a major culprit to lost heat as we all know that heat rises and if there is not enough insulation to trap the heat, it will escape. According to bchydro, properly insulating your attic can often times reduce your energy consumption by 20 to 60 percent.
If you’re building a new home or renovating, be sure to properly insulate your walls and apply weather stripping to your door to minimize any incoming draft.
When it comes to an eco friendly house, size definitely matters. Before purchasing a house it’s important to determine how much space you really need and (if you plan to be there for a long period of time) how much space you will need in the future. A few things to consider when looking at the size of the house you plan to live in, is that a smaller house is:
- Cheaper to build / buy
- Cheaper to heat / cool
- Less tax to pay
- Less maintenance
- Less land required
Tiny houses have been increasing in popularity over the last few years due to their affordability and ability to provide many of the same advantages of a full sized home while costing much less and leaving a smaller ecological footprint.
For a community of tiny home enthusiasts, check out the smallhouseforum.com where you can learn from the experience of others and ask questions.
Reusing materials that were already used in the past or purchasing green materials derived from recycled goods is a step in the right direction towards an eco friendly house. Using reclaimed goods means that you aren’t contributing to the pollution created in the manufacturing and transportation phases of new materials. If you do decide to purchase new product, buying green materials which are made from products that would otherwise go to our landfills means you are helping to reduce waste.
Both methods are eco friendly as they repurpose material that would otherwise not be used again.
Lowering the heat even by a degree or two can have drastic effects on the amount of money you save on your energy bill each month. By adjusting your thermostat by just one degree you can save up to 10% on your heating costs. Now obviously we aren’t suggesting you lower your thermostat to the point where you need to wear five layers to keep warm, but rather keep it at a reasonable temperature where you are comfortable and able to conserve a bit more energy.
Using a smart thermostat like the Nest Learning Thermostat is a great way to help out with this tip.
This thermostat automatically turns itself down when you are away and learns what temperature you like, adjusting itself automatically when you’re at home.It can be controlled from anywhere over WiFi and can help you save up to 20% on your heating and cooling bill.
When an appliance or device is plugged into an outlet it consumes energy even if it is not currently being used. This is called standby power and is an unnecessary waste of energy. It is estimated that standby power accounts for about 10% of a home’s total energy consumption in America resulting in over 3 billion dollars in annual energy costs. This waste of power can be minimized in a few ways including:
- Using an energy saving power adapter such as the Green Power Smart Wall Surge Protector. This power adapter knows when a device is using power and when it isn’t, thus automatically shutting off and reducing the amount of standby power consumed by up to 85%.
- Using a power bar to plug in multiple devices which you can turn off at once with the flick of a switch
- Simply unplugging your device each time after you are done using it.
Heating water requires a substantial amount of energy. Considering that a non eco friendly laundry machine uses approximately 40-45 gallons of water per load, that’s a lot of water to heat. Washing your clothes in cold water helps reduce the amount of energy you use to heat water, thus decreasing your energy bill considerably depending on how many loads you do in the run of a month.
An alternative to a traditional washing machine is to use a manual washing machine such as the laundry POD.
This POD works in the same way as a salad spinner in that you add your water, your laundry detergent, and use the spin handle to rotate the inner portion of the POD. This energy-free and low water consuming (3 gallons per load) alternative is portable, eco friendly, and helps save you money.
As discussed in our previous article, Everything You Need To Know About Environmentally Friendly Paint, paints with a high amounts of volatile organic organisms (VOCs) aren’t good for the environment or your health. Using a natural paint which is derived from ingredients such as clay, chalk, natural oils, etc. is a healthy alternative for both your house and the people living inside.
Zero VOC and low VOC paints are also a much greener choice than traditional paints as they carry less VOCs and harmful chemicals.
The amount of water used in a given day per person is about 80-100 gallons, that’s a lot! Being conscious of how much water you’re using and implementing tools to help you conserve water is a great way to make a more eco friendly house. For example, old toilet models can use up to 7 gallons of water per flush. By upgrading to a newer toilet or installing a water saving toilet tank bank inside your existing toilet can have drastic affects on the amount of water you save.
Similarly, there are also a few devices that exists to help you save water in the shower. The average American uses 17.2 gallons of water per shower which often times accounts for one fifth of their average daily water use. Installing a device such as The Shower Saver lets you know how much water you are using as well as your shower time, helping you make smarter water saving decisions.
For even more savings while in the shower, you can install a water saving shower head. This shower head can help you save up to one gallon of water per minute! With both solutions in use, you’ll be much more efficient with your daily water consumption.
In many cases, windows are a major contributor to heat loss in a house. If windows are not properly sealed, this lets cold air creep in during the winter and warm air during the summer. Replacing your windows with Energy star windows has been known to lower the average household’s energy bill by up to 12 percent.
Keeping your blinds open to let natural light in is another great way to help reduce the need for light bulbs, which uses unnecessary energy during the daytime.
If you have any old appliances around the house such as dated refrigerators, washer / drying machine, dishwasher, etc. consider upgrading them to eco friendly appliances. Energy Star has an extensive list of products which are better for the planet and help save you money at the same time.
Also keep in mind the size and features that come with the new appliance you may be planning on purchasing. If you live alone or with another person you likely don’t need to buy a family size fridge. Additionally, although some appliances may come with additional features and gadgets, keep in mind that this increases the amount of things that may break down or need repair. If at all possible, try to keep it simple while selecting an appliance that still meets your needs.
As a larger goal towards self-sufficiency from the energy companies, you can begin producing your own energy. If you live in a rural area, wind turbines may be an appropriate solution to generating surplus energy to help power your house. The amount of energy a wind turbine can produce depends on a couple of factors including the wind speed through the rotors as well as the size of the turbine. However, according to ewea.org,
An average onshore wind turbine with a capacity of 2.5–3 MW can produce more than 6 million kWh in a year – enough to supply 1,500 average EU households with electricity.
The wind turbines mentioned above are no doubt industrial grade and very large. However, smaller and more manageably sized wind turbines can be purchased and installed directly on your property to help subsidize your energy consumption.
Alternatively, solar energy may be a more achievable goal for creating your own energy. According to sunrun, solar panel installation for an average home can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $29,000. Although this is a fairly substantial upfront cost, the amount of money you save in energy bills over the course of multiple years weighs out the initial cost.
Solar panels owners have been known to save anywhere from 50-90% on their energy bills by producing their own energy. Therefore if you have a $400 energy bill per month and save 50% (therefore $200), you are saving $2,400 per year! That means it will take just over 6 years to earn back your 15k investment and 12 years if you make the larger investment of 29k.
The difference between an eco friendly lightbulb and one that isn’t, is quite surprising. Take the ultra energy efficient light bulb for example which can last up to 20+ years if used correctly. Sometimes it can be a struggle to just get a few months out of a traditional light bulb.
Eco friendly lightbulbs are more expensive in the short term than traditional bulbs however, they certainly pay off in the long run. Consider both the amount of bulbs you’ll go through and the amount of energy you’ll conserve by using an eco friendly lightbulb, the savings will add up over the years.
Advantages to an Eco Friendly House
Hopefully the above suggestion helped give you some ideas on what can be done in order to help make for an eco friendly house. There are many advantages to a green home including the following:
- Save Money
- Tax Incentives
- Help The Environment
- Live Healthier
Apart from saving money in the long run, by implementing these eco friendly suggestions, you’ll likely be able to take advantage of tax incentives and government funding for certain eco friendly upgrades to your home. Lastly, implementing these suggestions not only helps the environment by reducing the amount of waste, chemicals, and pollution but also helps improve your health.
Let us know if you have any other eco friendly house tips in the comments section and we might add them to the article.