Sustainable Homes – What Are the Main Features?
The green movement reached the housing market, persuading many homeowners to increase the sustainability of their properties. Eco-friendly sustainable homes hold a higher value than traditional ones because they are in high demand among buyers.
Sustainable homes also lower residents’ utility bills and shrink their carbon footprints. There are many things you can do to reduce their property’s environmental impact. Solar panels and water heaters, efficient garage door openers, smart thermostats, lights and sprinklers, rainwater harvesting systems, eco-friendly paint, and ecologically supportive landscaping all increase a property’s sustainability.
The Problem With Conventional Homes
Traditional homes use nearly 32 kilowatt-hours of power and 400 gallons of water daily. The majority of these houses source their electricity from fossil fuels, which create toxic emissions. Excessive clean water extraction takes a toll on the environment.
Fossil fuel pollution contributes to the enhanced greenhouse effect. This is the process that naturally warms the Earth’s surface to sustain all life. When greenhouse gas emissions invade the atmosphere, they interfere with the organic healing process.
Instead of absorbing the sun’s energy, converting it to heat, and readmitting it into space, air pollutants trap heat in the atmosphere. The more greenhouse gases we emit into the environment, the warmer the planet will get overtime.
Rising global temperatures negatively impact the climate, causing additional effects on the ecosystem. Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and exploitation of clean water sources to lead a more sustainable life. Unlike the local businesses we frequent, we can control the sustainability of our sustainable homes. There are 10 main features of an eco-friendly home that can lower a resident’s contribution to environmental degradation.
1. Solar Panels for a Sustainable Home
To reduce your reliance on fossil fuel burning electricity, you can source your power from a renewable energy source. It harnesses non-depletable natural resources, like the sun and wind, to create residential electricity. Utilizing solar energy can eliminate your home’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Solar panels require an upfront investment, but they pay for themselves in a few years. The panels also help you save money by reducing your utility bills. When you install solar panels on your roof, you decrease your carbon footprint and increase your property’s value.
2. Solar Water Heater
Green homes further reduce their reliance on conventionally sourced energy by using a solar water heater. These systems capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that heats your water tank. Solar heaters consist of collectors, a water tank, a heat converter, and a controller system.
Conventional water heaters use oil, electricity, or gas to source their electricity. All those resources contribute to atmospheric pollution and high gas and electricity bills.
3. Garage Door Openers
When evaluating the sustainability of a home’s features, you must consider the lifespan of the materials. Many garage door companies produce cheap openers, and customers have to buy new ones every few years. Although this may effectively make the door opener company money, it increases the size of the homeowner’s carbon footprint.
Chain-drive garage door openers are a sustainable home feature due to their reliability and extended lifespan. If a homeowner purchases a less reliable opener, they will waste natural resources and money over the years. Chain-driven devices reduce the need to replace the system as often.
4. Smart Thermostat
The HVAC control system significantly impacts a home’s emissions. Sustainable houses use smart thermostats to reduce the amount of energy used for heating and cooling. These are especially necessary for residences that use renewable energy to meet electricity demands.
Smart thermostats keep your home at an energy-efficient temperature. They also detect motion and turn down the system when the house is unoccupied. The device has a vacation mode that shuts off the heat or AC when you are away and turns it back on before you return.
5. Smart Lights
Another feature of a sustainable home is smart lights. These devices also use motion detection to turn off lighting when no one is present. Additionally, they use geofencing to automatically shut them all off when your phone is away from your house.
When paired with LED or Energy Star bulbs, smart lights can significantly reduce a home’s electricity use. By limiting your use of power with automated lighting, you can create a sustainable home.
6. Smart Sprinklers
Homeowners use upwards of 60% of freshwater on their lawns. They often waste this resource by using it at insufficient times. Sustainable homes utilize smart sprinklers to prevent water waste.
These devices calculate the weather and time change to maximize their watering efficiency. They also prevent overwatering, underwatering, and evaporation by running during cool and dark hours. Smart sprinklers connect to your smartphone so you can track your water use and reduce your footprint.
7. Rainwater Harvesting System
To further shrink their water footprint, sustainable homeowners connect their smart sprinklers to a rainwater harvesting system. These devices rely on an age-old method of gathering and utilizing stormwater, which can carry pesticides and other toxins into the ocean and create uninhabitable marine dead zones.
Innovators took a traditional concept and extended its abilities. Now, homeowners can use rainwater harvesting systems for toilets, irrigation, or purifying water for bathing and drinking. Homes with these systems reduce their contribution to dead zones and exploitation of natural resources.
8. Eco-Friendly Paint
Avoid using high volatile organic compound (VOC)-filled paints. These oil-based options harm the environment. Sustainable homes reduce their ecological interference by using zero-VOC paints with zinc oxide as a fungicide.
9. Ecologically Supportive Landscaping
Some of the most elegant landscaping is highly detrimental to the native ecosystem. Rather than planting exotic trees and grass, sustainable homeowners rely on local species. Using native plants for landscaping can limit your water, fertilizer, and pesticide use while protecting surrounding life.
Houses in dry climates may utilize a sand or cobblestone yard with succulents. When you rely on native plants, you reduce lawn mowers’ emissions because the ecosystem will regulate their growth organically.
The most critical element of a sustainable home is its compost bin. Composting reduces landfill pileup, garbage pickup costs, and carbon emissions. Garbage trucks emit a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during their weekly routes.
Residents may also use compost matter to nourish the soil. This dirt mixture prevents erosion on a property and increases the ground’s ability to retain moisture, lowering the need to water your lawn. When working to decrease your carbon and water footprint and increase your home’s sustainability, installing a compost bin is the optimal first step.
Talk to a Sustainable Home Expert
If you are looking to decrease your home’s environmental impact, it may help to reach out to an expert. This is because a professional can evaluate your property’s energy use and determine what measures you should take. Investing in green sustainable home appliances can effectively shrink your carbon footprint and increase your home’s value.
Rose Morrison is an AEC industry writer and the managing editor of Renovated. To read more of her work, check out her site.