Going "Green" in Your Home

By Lee Cameron Published 10/10/2008 | Real Estate

As our society gets more conscious of our impact on the environment, many consumers are concerned about "living green". And while it's important to worry about what we drive, and what we eat, and what we spray into the air, one of the biggest impacts on our planet often goes overlooked - our homes. A house require a great deal of natural resources to be built and large amounts of energy to keep maintained. Many new home builders are building homes specifically designed to have a smaller environmental "footprint", but there are things that everyone can do in their homes to help save the planet. 

1. Harness the Power of the Sun - Lower your energy bills and help the environment by looking into the possibility of using solar power to help power your home. Many states offer varying types of incentives to install solar panels. Even with incentives, the upfront investment can be a little pricey, but you're guaranteed to make your money back eventually in the savings on your utility bills.

2. Energy Efficient Appliances - Many companies that manufacture home appliances now have energy-efficient models. Next time you decide to remodel your kitchen, consider switching to these models.

3. Insulation - Improper insulation can be one of the biggest contributors to wasteful energy in your home. By ensuring that your home is properly insulated, you increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling units and reduce the amount of energy (and money) required to run them.

4. Planting the Seeds - It may sound simple or hokey, but one of the easiest and most effective ways to help your environment is to plant trees. Not only will you be contributing to clean air and making the world a more beautiful place, but trees will also provide shade to your home during the hot summer months, making it easier and somewhat cheaper to keep cool. And when you're ready to sell, the boost to your curb appeal that comes from a beautiful yard doesn't hurt either.

5. Avoiding pesticides - There are many types of pesticides on the market that are not only harmful to the environment, but also to you and your pets, due to the toxic compounds that they contain. Look for pesticides that are environmentally safe or try to avoid them altogether. 

6. Open your windows - On a sunny day, turn off your lights and open your blinds and let the natural light in. If the weather is nice and cool, turn your AC off and open up your windows. Give your utilities a much-needed rest.

7. Sealing the gaps - Go around your home and make sure that any gaps in the windows and doors leading outside are properly sealed. The focus is on efficiency and it's hard to efficiently cool or heat your home while air is leaking in and out.

8. Try Xeriscaping - Xeriscaping is a new form of landscaping that uses indigenous plans and specially designed irrigation to landscape your yard. The local plants respond much better to your local weather and will - once grown out effectively - need much less care and watering to maintain.

There are many, many other ways to reduce your environmental footprint, from recycling to riding your bike to work. Consider some of these options to help keep your home environmentally friendly. And remember, the planet isn't the only thing you're saving. An energy-efficient home costs less to maintain. Increasing the green of your home will eventually increase the green in your wallet.