by Rachel Lyon, The House Designers’ Assistant Editorial Director
The building trend toward making the most environmentally conscious homes possible continues to grow, and with good reason. Not only do green products offer you the chance to influence best practices with your buying decisions, but they can also repay you with years of hardy and energy-efficient use that will keep your bills lower. But what are some of the things you can do to reap these benefits? We’ve put together some quick tips for building a great green house, whether you’re starting construction on a new one or would like to update what you already have.
Start with the Entry
Drafts around old seals in doors can make you uncomfortable and also cause you to lose money in wasted home heating and cooling costs. Make sure your doors aren’t costing you even when they’re closed! There are strikingly beautiful options that provide tighter seals and increased insulation, so you don’t have to choose between curb appeal and properly outfitting your home for the climate. No matter the exterior style of your home, you will find an aesthetically appropriate, energy-efficient entry if only you start looking!
Remember the Garage
As the largest opening on your home, the garage door can make or break your efforts to maximize household efficiency. You can actually customize the level of insulation of your garage door for your environment with different thicknesses of polyurethane. And just as with front entries, there are a number of different collections that cater to all tastes, with additional touches like hardware and windows to increase customization. So invest in a stronger and more efficient garage door—it will beautify your home while providing years of durable use!
Choose a Cool Roof
Did you know that the type of roof on your home actually has a huge impact on your home’s efficiency and can even affect the surrounding environment? When sunlight is absorbed by roofs, the heat that is trapped works against your air conditioning, forcing it to run more to keep the house comfortable, and this can actually raise the temperature outside, too. In densely populated areas, this heat island effect creates a microclimate that is different from its rural outskirts, so having cool roofs is increasingly important in urban locations. A cool roof that reflects the sun’s rays away is a smart investment for anybody who wants to save money and help minimize their home’s impact on the environment.
Install Smarter Windows
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding the perfect windows. Depending on the location of your home, you’ll need to find the perfect combination of insulated glass coatings, insulating gas, and dual or tripane windows. You might think that you should just opt for the most of everything to cover your bases, but that could actually cost you more. There are different Low E coatings for different climates, and they affect how the sun’s rays are reflected and allowed in. Low E1 coating allows rays in, and it’s perfect for northern climates where solar heat gain is desired, while Low E3 is for hot, southern locales where you would rather reflect this heat away. Contact a professional to make sure you get the best windows for your exact situation.
Look for Water-Saving Fixtures
You might think that water-saving fixtures deliver weaker pressure and will make it take longer to get clean, but that isn’t actually true. The EPA’s WaterSense® program labels faucets and shower heads that use less water—and sometimes it’s a huge difference!—but because they aerate the stream, you’ll feel the same pressure and find that they outperform regular models. There are also WaterSense® toilets that actually flush better, so there’s no reason not to opt for them. These fixtures are designed like any other, come in stylish finishes, and will save you hundreds of dollars per year on your water bill!
The National Association of Home Builders found that today’s builders expect that 60% or more of new homes will be green by 2020. Even as the housing market fell, the strongest growth continued to be in this area as consumers saw the future benefits to look forward to. So make your home as green as possible, not only to improve it for yourself, but to increase its resale worth, too!