From concerns about global warming to rising energy bills, it’s no surprise that homeowners and potential buyers are prioritizing an eco-friendly home. In fact, the demand for green home features is soaring.
Whether you are looking to buy a new home or you’re staying put, you might wonder how you can make your home more eco-friendly in 2022 and beyond. First, we’ll outline the facets of an eco-friendly home, along with techniques and technologies to conserve energy. Much of this advice applies to both existing and new-construction homes, the latter of which will allow you to make custom upgrades during the home building process.
So, what is an eco-friendly home?
An eco-friendly home serves the purpose of conserving energy, all while making a lighter carbon footprint on the environment. These homes implement materials and upgrades to improve home performance from the inside out, ranging from solar panels to smart thermostats. Some homeowners choose to build a new home and implement eco-friendly features. Other homeowners upgrade existing homes with energy-efficient products and technologies.
In the big picture, what are the features of an eco-friendly home?
- A key component of any eco-friendly home is thermal insulation, since it not only reduces electricity consumption but also reduces carbon emissions. Homes that contain nontoxic, renewable and biodegradable insulation material are considered eco-friendly.
- In addition to electrical or gas energy, eco-friendly homes also use less water consumption, thanks to devices such as high-efficiency showerheads, faucet aerators and toilet fill-cycle diverters.
- The energy source of your home is also a significant indicator of efficiency and impact on the environment. Typical homes use fossil fuels, while eco-friendlier homes rely on geothermal units, heat pumps and solar panels.
- Eco-friendly homes also use smart appliances as well as smart technology, ranging from thermostats to smart lighting.
The possibilities to create an eco-friendly home are exciting and nearly endless. Below are some options to consider for an energy-efficient home, including both interior and exterior upgrades.
Inside your home: Easy eco-friendly upgrades
Sometimes the smallest upgrades can make dramatic differences for an eco-friendly home. There is a plethora of options to consider, and most are a snap to install. The good news is that you can use these upgrades in an existing home, or ask your contractor to include these options if you are building a home.
1. Install smart thermostats
Does your home have a smart thermostat? There are many benefits that smart thermostats can provide, including saving you money on your utility bills, ensuring your home is comfortable and giving you peace of mind about your energy consumption. Thermostats that learn — your schedule and your preferred temperatures, for example — are some of the most popular. Many thermostats also allow you to control the temperature of your home from your smartphone. A smart thermostat is a great investment when you want to lessen your carbon footprint.
2. Change to smart appliances
Upgrading your kitchen with smart appliances can also improve energy usage. Smart appliances not only can be controlled remotely via a phone app or a smart-home platform (think Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant) but also they can automatically turn off when you aren’t using them. Your dishwasher, refrigerator, dryer, washing machine, oven and stove can all be smart appliances that help cut down on your carbon footprint.
3. Caulk around doors and windows
Did you know that 30 percent of your home’s energy can be lost through drafty windows and doors? Investing in quality weatherstripping, caulking and weather-resistant materials such as foam tape can help minimize air infiltration.
Installing caulk around windows and doors is relatively inexpensive and easy to do, and it makes a big difference in terms of home performance. Caulk provides a moisture- and wind-resistant buffer zone between the door or window frame and the outside wall. Caulking can also reduce air infiltration through unsealed door and window casings.
4. Upgrade to LED lighting
LED lighting isn’t a new concept for existing or new-construction homes, but it can make a substantial difference in energy consumption. LED lights were first used for accent lighting in rooms and only used when there was a specific need for them, but, now they are replacing older-style fluorescent and incandescent lights. When compared to incandescent lighting, LED lighting can save more than 75 percent in energy consumption.
5. Hang blackout curtains
Can blackout curtains make a difference in your carbon footprint? Absolutely. Living in sunny Texas, for example, the heat from the sun can turn your home into a sweltering, uncomfortable environment. This leads to air conditioning systems running in overdrive, especially during daylight hours. Blackout curtains can block out roughly 90 percent of this sunlight to help keep your home cool. During chilly days, blackout curtains also provide insulating properties to help keep heated air inside your home.
Outside your home: Excellent eco-friendly upgrades
Great for both new construction and existing homes, there are options available to improve the performance of your exterior. These exterior upgrades ultimately impact the interior of your home, too. It’s the best way to come full circle to create an eco-friendly home. Consider upgrades such as the following:
6. Install energy-efficient windows
Energy-efficient windows are the epitome of an eco-friendly home — probably the first components homeowners became aware of once energy efficiency became a hotter topic. You’ll notice a big difference in indoor comfort and energy consumption by upgrading, especially if you currently have single-pane windows in your home. Here is a short list of what to look for when upgrading to energy-efficient windows:
- Insulating gasses, including argon and krypton, which provide insulating properties
- Triple-pane windows, which provide an additional barrier against energy loss
- Insulated frames that have foam inside
- Professional installation, ensuring the windows are properly performing through all seasons
7. Install eco-efficient garage doors
Installing an eco-friendly garage door might not be obvious — but the garage door serves as the largest opening in the exterior. When a garage door is adequately insulated, it can have a big impact on your home’s energy efficiency. Eco-friendly garage doors contain materials that are ethically sourced, including steel or aluminum, as opposed to materials that require mining and importing, such as wood and some new metals. Consider triple-layer doors that have polyurethane insulation, which provides the highest level of energy efficiency. Polyurethane is a liquid foam insulation that expands as it’s injected, filling every gap in the door’s construction. It has twice the R-value per inch over that of traditional types of insulation.
8. Start using solar panels
Setting up your home with solar panels can make a large impact on your carbon footprint. You’ll experience lower energy consumption in the home while substantially reducing greenhouse gasses. Meanwhile, solar panels will also increase the value of your home by roughly $15,000. They can also potentially help your home sell faster.
If you are considering any or all of the above, ask your Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty agent about the trends they are seeing in eco-friendlier living. Whether you want to lessen your carbon footprint or improve indoor comfort — or both — an eco-friendly home will help improve your quality of life while making less of an impact on the environment.