By: Lauren Busser The House Designers Contributing Writer
March 17th will once again usher in the Irish soda bread and “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” buttons, but being green doesn’t have to be limited to clothing and food items. When it comes to building your home, this spring is the perfect time to make some ‘green’ changes to your construction plans, or even to your lifestyle.
If you are building a home this season, consider adding green products to your home. Using energy-saving appliances can not only save you a bundle, but our environment will thank you, too.
When you begin constructing your home, you can take steps to save energy from the ground up. For starters, you want to make sure your home has enough insulation. When you first begin construction of your home, making sure everything from the walls and floors to the attic are well insulated will make your finished house a place of comfort and warmth.
Not to mention insulating your home will keep your heating and cooling bills down. Owens Corning® offers environmentally friendly solutions for insulating your home with their EcoTouch™ insulation, which is made from 99% natural materials and, at minimum, 57% recycled materials.
When working on the inside of your home, you may wonder what high-quality green materials you might use. For example, you really needn’t compromise the quality of your flooring. Each type of flooring has a green solution, from carpet to hardwood, and even bamboo.
One special kind of green flooring is a cork floor. It might sound like an odd idea at first, but cork is a special kind of renewable resource. Cork is made from harvested tree bark, and it is never harvested until it is mature. A cork floor is soft underfoot, offers good sound insulation and is naturally water resistant, making it a good choice for kitchens or baths.
It’s never too late to take up elecricity saving efforts. Naturally, keeping that bill as low as possible is high on everyone’s list. To help with this goal, you may consider using ENERGY STAR labeled appliances and installing dimmers for your lights. A dimmer automatically reduces electric usage by 4 to 9% compared to an ordinary switch. Dimmers save energy 24/7 and work on a simple principle: the more you dim, the more you save.
If you want to maximize the value and efficiency of all your lighting, consider a home light control system such as Lutron® HomeWorks®. A light control system coordinates and operates dimmers at different times of the day in order to vary the amount of artificial lighting in relation to natural light. A system like HomeWorks® can also be programmed to accommodate daylight savings time and special holiday or weekend programs. The system can also be integrated into security and audiovisual systems, giving you added protection and security.
If water savings is a concern, consider using appliances such as a low-flow toilet. Leading the way in water conserving toilets is Toto®. Toto® has developed a one-gallon-per-flush toilet called the Drake II 1G. This toilet delivers one-flush performance with Toto’s Double Cyclone® technology while using only one gallon of water. Delta® has a new dual water efficient showerhead that features two powerful sprays and is called In2ition®.
Whether you're just starting your home building project, or are well under way, there are plenty of ways to incorporate green materials and solutions into your design. Everything from keeping your environmental impact low to minimizing the cost of utilities—there’s lots of green solutions to be found with a little research.