From the roof to the heating to the floors, environmentally friendly materials and features for eco home design that will save you money as well as save the environment.
An environmentally or eco friendly home is one that uses materials that conserve energy, are renewable resources, are made from recycled materials and its manufacture is not detrimental to the environment. Here are some suggestions you may want to use to make your home as green as possible from top to bottom.
Eco Friendly Roofing
An eco-friendly roof is one that is made of material that is Energy Star® rated or contains recycled content. An aluminum metal roof is considered one of the best choices because it is made from recycled materials and can be continually recycled, meaning it never ends up in a landfill. Aluminum is a radiant heat barrier, and will not hold heat, lowering air conditioning costs.
In you live in a warm climate year round, it is recommended that you should have a light colored roof as it will reflect the sun. The opposite applies in you live in a cold climate most of the year. Go for a dark roof that will absorb the heat from the sun.
Green Home Siding
Any option – wood, stucco, aluminum – is fine except PVC vinyl. PVC is the “bad” plastic. It releases toxins, its production releases toxins and it is not a recyclable material.
Energy Efficient Windows and Doors
Windows should be Energy Star qualified for the climate zone you live in. Place large windows on the sides of the house where you have southern exposure and in the winter use dark colored lined curtains or blinds at night to keep the cold out. Choose wood over aluminum for windows and doors as it is more energy efficient and is a renewable resource. Also, go for a solid front door as opposed to one with a window if you really want to save on energy costs.
Eco Friendly Fireplaces
When it comes to natural gas or wood burning fireplaces, natural gas appears to be the better option. Mostly because the burning of wood does add pollutants into the atmosphere and while wood is a renewable resource, it is also becoming a scarce resource.
Green Heating and Air Conditioning
Installing solar panels is one of the best ways to heat your home. If that is not possible, you have a choice between natural gas, oil or electric heating, with natural gas being the most environmentally friendly of the three as it emits the least pollutants. The furnace you install should be an Energy Star qualified furnace as it utilizes fuel more efficiency and reduces energy costs. As for air conditioning, again, choose an Energy Star qualified central air conditioner, which use up to 20% less energy than standard new central air conditioners. You can also install ceiling fans in each room to keep rooms cool.
Energy Saving Water Heaters
A tankless water heater can save you up to 75% on your energy bill as they only heat water as you demand it, you are not paying for hot water to sit idle in a tank. You will have unlimited hot water and they last twice as long as regular water heaters. There are also solar water heaters which collect energy from the sun and use it to heat water. They also significantly reduce heating costs.
Eco Friendly Flooring
Bamboo floors are a great choice as bamboo is a highly renewable wood. An oak tree takes 60 years to replace but a bamboo tree takes only 60 days to grow. Plus, it looks good and is durable.
Green Living Paint Options
Paints can release low levels of toxins into the air you breathe. These toxins are called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Therefore, the most environmentally friendly paints to use are natural paints (they use plant oils, extracts and minerals), low VOC or zero VOC paint.
Environmentally Safe Piping
As mentioned, PVC is a very non-environmentally friendly plastic. It is used largely in piping. For underground pipes, clay is an alternative to PVC. It is a natural resource and will last 5 times longer than PVC. For above ground piping (such as gutters) zinc, copper, galvanized steel or aluminum can be used instead of PVC.
Even employing some of these suggestions, such as eco friendly heating or flooring in a green home design will reduce energy costs and help the environment.