With energy costs soaring and concern about greenhouse gasses rising, many homeowners are looking to integrate “green,” energy-efficient features into new and existing homes.
While larger footprints and lot sizes can require more resources than average they don’t have to guzzle nonrenewable energy.
You may have to start from scratch if you want to live in a LEED-certified home (and many people do), but it takes just a few adjustments to shave at least a few toes off your existing carbon footprint. These concepts can do wonders in either context.
- Smart devices — If your home isn’t already smart, it’s time to connect it to as many readers and sensors as you possibly can. They can monitor and conserve your energy and water use for you, as well as let you check data and conditions when you aren’t there.
- Open floor plan — Some trend lists say this once-ubiquitous design is going out of fashion and there are reasons for that, but it does have several advantages where energy use is concerned. A relative lack of walls and barriers means better air circulation and ventilation and less need for lighting sources, in part due to better access to natural light during the day.
- Window materials and placement — Proper installation of windows and using Energy Star-certified projects puts a huge dent in energy leakage. When you’re designing a new home or major remodel, making sure they’re well-placed to take advantage of where the sun is shining during the course of the day will reduce your energy needs further.
- Plant your yard well — Using beautiful, drought-tolerant landscaping that fits the surrounding environment benefits the Earth in multiple ways by reducing water use, being a haven for wildlife from the surrounding habitat and setting an example for how it can be done. Growing your own fruits and vegetables is the ultimate form of local sourcing — no need to transport or preserve anything!
- Solar power — Some homes are better situated for this than others, but most houses can get at least some of their power from panels, and since larger homes need more power the savings are even bigger.