Many people are jumping on the “eco-friendly home” bandwagon and trying to figure out how to make their homes greener.  People usually think solely of energy efficiency when they discuss how to make their homes more eco-friendly, however, other factors can also be involved in making homes greener.  In addition to energy efficiency, eco-friendly homes are also created from materials that are recycled or not made from fossil fuels.  Reducing waste, making better use of space, and maintaining cleanliness is also considered.

 Some of the things homeowners are considering when remodeling or building new homes include:

  • Installing solar panels on their roofs to draw energy from the sun.
  • Installing more skylights to let in more sunshine for energy and heat.
  • Installing rooftop gardens to insulate the home and require less energy to heat.  Gardens can also be arranged so that rainwater drainage is channeled for the water to be reused.
  • Installing recycled cabinets and countertops.  Using second-hand materials saves costs and waste of non-renewable resources.
  • Using non-deforestation wood to build.
  • Building new homes that face the sun for natural heat.  Homeowners are adding more windows on the sun-facing sides of their homes to let in more heat.
  • Installing double glazed windows for insulation purposes.
  • Using mud, stones, and straw as building material.
  • Using bamboo for flooring, cabinets, and wall covering.  As part of the grass family, bamboo grows as such and is less environmentally impactful than wood.
  • Using motion-sensor lights so they are not kept on all the time.
  • Installing low-flow toilet mechanisms to save on water consumption.
  • Installing Energy-Star rated appliances.
  • Keeping the refrigerator away from the heat of the sun and/or oven. 
  • Strategically placing windows, shades, and overhangs around the house to take advantage of the sun’s heat and energy.

 Builders and renovators need to make sure properties meet sustainability requirements as outlined by building codes and legislation.  As a result, many new homes or those needing major renovations are being built with sustainable materials, increasing the number of eco-friendly homes in the country.

 Another factor for homeowners to consider when building or remodeling eco-friendly homes is the air quality in the living space.  As homes and apartments become more eco-friendly and airtight, humidity levels from breathing and cooking tend to increase, resulting in mold and mildew.  Air in homes can become contaminated when construction materials such as furniture, insulation, carpeting, padding, paints, and solvents emit harmful chemicals due to the increased humidity.  Testing indoor air quality and monitoring the toxin levels is important when considering an eco-friendly home. 

 Many homeowners are also not aware of some of the less costly things that can be done to make a home more eco-friendly.  If people are not able to afford solar panels, recycled cabinets and countertops, or bamboo flooring, there are other things they can do to convert their homes into one that is more eco-friendly.

  1. Change light bulbs – energy efficient, compact fluorescent lights are now manufactured in all shapes and sizes.  These light bulbs are even made for lights on dimmer switches.  They may be a little more expensive, however, in the long run, consumers would save money because energy efficient light bulbs use far less electricity and last longer.
  2. Use a clothing rack – tumble driers consume a great deal of electricity.  If there is some ceiling or above-head space available in the home, installing a drying rack that is lowered to load up the wash, then cranked up to the warmest part of the room allows the clothes to dry naturally.
  3. Buy second-hand – when consumers purchase their goods and resources that are being reused or recycled, they are saving on not just the nonrenewable resource but also the energy consumed when making the products.  For instance, there is already plenty of good wooden furniture in the world.  Is it really necessary to purchase a new one?
  4. Collect rainwater for gardens – plants and grass are not picky about whether or not they drink fresh or recycled water.  Rainwater can be collected in a drum for watering gardens.
  5. Use a compost bin – if space is ample, compost bins should be considered.  All food scraps can then be composted and used for gardening, which plants prefer anyhow because of the rich nutrients.
  6. Use non-toxic detergents and toiletries – purchasing and using non-toxic products saves in the processing costs and energy consumption of detergents and toiletries that are over-processed.
  7. Keep furnace and air conditioner filters clean to help them run as efficiently as possible.  Dirty filters make furnaces and air conditioners work harder and expend more energy.

Making some of these smaller, suggested changes in homes can help homeowners live in more eco-friendly environments and homes.  Every little thing that is done can positively impact the rapid consumption of nonrenewable resources and energy.