The planet is warming, the sea level is rising, entire species are being wiped out before our very eyes, and it is because of our choices and actions as individuals and as a society. The path we are on is not sustainable for the future, and it is our responsibility, each one of us, to do what we can to make our lifestyles as sustainable as possible to ensure a future for our children. Owning a home comes with a large carbon footprint that many homeowners are unaware of. But by knowing that your home has an impact on the environment, you can make decisions to decrease your footprint as much as possible and live a more sustainable life in your home. Here are a few tips to help.
Reduce Your Utility Usage
One of if not the largest environmental impact of homeownership is utility usage. Reducing your utility usage is a great way to lower the burning of fossil fuels, decrease the use of natural gas, conserve safe drinking water, and make the most of the resources we use. You should make sure that you are turning the lights off in your house in any room that is not being used to decrease electrical bills. Make sure that your insulation is in proper shape and your windows and doors seal properly to save electricity with heating and air conditioning. And try to use energy efficient appliances that save electricity, gas, and water when in use to keep your utilities as low as possible.
Get Your Power from Renewable Sources
The largest source of power in the world today is through the burning of fossil fuels like gas, oil, coal, and natural gas. All these sources of energy have major carbon footprints, releasing tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere that are having a significant impact on the warming of our planet. Everything that you can do to get power from sustainable sources, like solar energy, wind, nuclear, waterpower, etc. is all very worth it. Consider installing solar panels on your roof to help offset some of your energy usage with renewable sources, and lobby politicians for greener energy.
Improve Your Home’s Insulation
You would be shocked to discover how much heat escapes from your home in winter and how much cold air escapes in the summertime. You can save tons of energy from being wasted on heating and cooling costs in your home by ensuring that your insulation is done properly. A properly insulated home will retain its temperature better than a home with weak or damaged insulation. Have an insulation professional inspect your home, and if your insulation needs repairs or additions, have them done right away to keep your home from leaking heat and energy.
Use Recycled Materials
Even just building a home comes with a major carbon footprint. Many homes use brick, asphalt, wood, and other materials that must be made for your home, which leads to the chopping down of trees, and the creation of additional materials. A better option for your home for sustainability is to use as much recycled material in your home as possible, particularly using reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood signs can add character to your home. Consider getting used wood farm doors for an elegant look or using other recycled wood materials in your home. This prevents additional trees from getting cut down for your home.
Use Energy Efficient Appliances
Another great way to reduce your energy usage and thereby decrease your home’s carbon footprint is to use energy efficient appliances. Energy efficient appliances can save you both tons of money, and the environment from exposure to tons of carbon emissions in additional power usage. If you have not updated your appliances in the last decade, you could do the environment a favor by upgrading to more modern, energy efficient appliances for your home.
A Green Yard
The traditional grass front and backyard is terrible for the environment. A grass lawn requires tons of water, and releases relatively little oxygen back into the air when compared with other types of greenery like every green tree, and even flowers. If you are really looking to be a more sustainable homeowner, you should consider other greener, options for your front lawn than Kentucky bluegrass. If you like the look of traditional grass, consider an artificial lawn to reduce your water usage. Or you could go with a clover grass lawn, that requires no mowing, little watering and is very inexpensive. Or even just go crazy with trees and flowers. Whatever looks best to you.
Use Water Collection Bins
You can decrease your reliance on water reserves when you utilize bins in your backyard to catch rainwater. While rainwater may not be safe drinking water, and you should not drink your caught rainwater, it is a great choice for watering your plants or traditional lawn if you have one. By utilizing the fresh water that falls to your water collection bins, you can reduce your utilities dependence and increase your home’s sustainability.
This is a basic answer, but many people do not follow this simple advice: recycle. Yes, a great way to start is with a recycling bin that you can place your recyclable waste into. But you can also do so much more , use old fabric and clothing as rags for washing instead of buying new ones. Save your glass bottles to use as soap dispensers, vases, or decorative centerpieces. There are tons of creative ways to recycle and upcycle items in your home to decrease your waste and limit your use of landfills that are a major source of environmental strife.
Maintaining a sustainable home is a responsibility for homeowners everywhere that should not be neglected. While there are plenty of ways to increase your sustainability, many homeowners ignore their responsibility. Don’t be like them and follow these eight tips to decrease your home’s carbon footprint and make your home more sustainable.
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H&H Home Builders have constructed Energy Star Compliant homes since we burst onto the building landscape in 1995 as ‘North Liberty’s Premier Builder’. Since then, Energy Star Guidelines have evolved into what we consider today as the pinnacle of efficiency and we, as builders of ‘green’ homes, have kept pace with those guidelines and have adapted them into each home that we build. H&H Home Builders will build you what is known today as a ‘green’ home, but what has always been lesser known as a ‘sustainable’ home. Sustainable homes are quality built so that they last not just decades, but are built to maintain value, encouraging pride of ownership for generations to come. An H&H ‘green’ Home uses raw materials in a responsible way, using fewer resources, resulting in the use of less energy.