Eco-Friendly Strategies for a Green Home
Green energy is the way of the future: now more than ever, homeowners are becoming conscious of the environment and what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Here are different strategies homeowners can use to help make their home environmentally friendly and use less energy.
What is an Eco-Friendly Home?
An eco-friendly home is one that includes many environmentally-friendly features that allow an individual to reduce the energy they use and the pollution they emit. There is no set standard to define an eco-friendly home, and many homeowners are able to create a sustainable lifestyle that works for them. For example, an eco-friendly property may come complete with Energy-Star appliances, solar panels on the roof and a rock garden for landscaping that requires minimal water to maintain. Another eco-friendly home, however, may have low-emittance windows and hardwood floors that are created from sustainable forests. There's no singular way to create an eco-friendly home, but plenty of ways for everyone to reduce their impact on the local environment.
Energy-Efficient Upgrades to Add In Your Home
There are a number of upgrades homeowners can make if they want to swap out older appliances for more energy-efficient models. Here are a few home improvements to pursue to save money in your home’s energy usage:
Use LED Lightbulbs
Light Emitting Diode (LED) lightbulbs have been around for a while now, but they are a tried and true method for making a home just a little bit greener. Not only do LED bulbs use less energy than their CFL counterparts, but they also have a smaller impact on the environment when they’ve been disposed of. LED lightbulbs also use less electricity than normal CFL bubs and last much longer, meaning homeowners get to save money on replacement bulbs and electricity bills on top of helping preserve the environment.
Install Dual Flush Toilets
In order to save more water, dual flush toilets give users the opportunity to choose how much water they want to use per flush. Dual flush toilets are considered high efficiency toilets (HET), which means they don’t use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush, which saves a lot of water when compared to other toilets that can use anywhere from 3.5–5 gallons per flush. Dual flush toilets have two different flush options: a low volume flush for liquid waste, and a high volume flush for solids.
Buy a Smart Thermostat
With the rise of smart technology for the home, smart thermostats give homeowners a way to adjust the temperature at home from anywhere in the world. This means they’ll no longer have to worry about forgetting to turn off the air conditioning for leaving for work. Smart thermostats also have the ability to learn the patterns of the user and automatically adjust based on the time of day or the temperature outside.
Try a Low Flow Shower Head
Showering uses a lot of water. In fact, some shower heads can use up to 5–8 gallons per minute (GPM), especially if it has high water pressure. In order to conserve water, homeowners can buy low flow shower heads that use significantly less water without sacrificing water pressure. Some low flow shower heads use only 1.6 GPM, which is 3–4 times less than a normal shower head. Not only are these shower heads environmentally friendly, but they also help homeowners save money on the water bill each month.
Install Double-Paned Windows
Traditional windows are the cause of a lot of lost energy in homes, so when replacing them, consider getting double-paned windows instead. These windows use two sheets of glass that have a gap between them to create a layer of insulation to protect the home from hot and cold outside temperatures. Double-paned windows can also be up to 50 percent more efficient than the traditional single-paned windows, and that can result in a significant change in the monthly heating and cooling bill.
Use a Water-Cooled Air Conditioner
Currently, air-cooled air conditioners are the most common variety on the market, but homeowners who really want to make their home as environmentally friendly as possible can choose to use a water-cooled air conditioner instead. Water-cooled air conditioners don’t emit exhaust or discharge and they don’t let off very much heat, making them ideal for enclosed spaces in any Austin home. Most water-cooled units are also portable, so homeowners can only cool one room without having to worry about wasting energy.
How to Improve the Efficiency of Existing Home Appliances
It is not only the demand for green homes but the potential to save money over the lifetime of owning a home causing homeowners to look for affordable energy-efficient improvements. Here are a few simple options for current and prospective homeowners to improve their energy usage and reduce their utility bills.
Swapping out older appliances for newer models can provide homeowners with additional energy savings. Look for appliances with the ENERGY STAR® label. The use of such appliances have been known to save residential and commercial property owners approximately $300 billion on related utility bills.
Go Off Peak
When it comes time to do a load of laundry or run the dishes, run the appliances during off peak times. This taps in to the energy grid during times of lower usage and can save money for the savvy homeowner. Rather than run the dishwasher for a few dishes, wait until it is full before doing a load. In addition, unplugging items such as computers, televisions and toasters when not in use can reduce energy consumption. Simply using appliances and keeping them in good repair can help.
Look for Energy Leaks
Homeowners can save money while also performing regular maintenance tasks. Homeowners in older homes may need to address drafts around windows and doors. When homeowners properly insulate homes and seal air-leaks, they not only live in a more comfortable environment but help keep their home cool in the summer and warm during the winter. Home sealing is recommended by the EPA to improve the “envelope” of a home.
Another aspect is to fix and repair issues with the HVAC system. An issue with the AC can make the system work harder to cool a home and use more energy in the process. Simply making a small repair and maintaining the system can cut the amount of energy needed to heat or cool a home. Addressing the maintenance needs of a home and the heating and cooling system are two ways to make a home more energy efficient.
Where Can Buyers Find Sustainable Living Options in Austin?
Recognizing the demand for sustainable living options in Austin, area home builders and luxury developers have decided to launch entire eco-friendly communities. Residents in the area are now able to focus their home search on specific communities that include a variety of features and amenities designed to protect the environment, minimize the amount of energy used and save homeowners money on their utility costs.
According to Curbed, Whisper Valley is one of the largest sustainable living communities in Austin. It's a $2 billion development that broke ground in the early months of 2017. While there are only a few completed properties in the development currently, most of the homes are expected to be built within the next year. By the time it is complete, there will be more than 7,500 single-family and multi-family properties within the development, as well as a commercial space totaling more than 2 million square feet.
Geothermal wells and solar panels are just a few of the sustainable features that are going to be included in these homes. Perhaps what is most notable about this development, however, is the fact that the properties will not have the high price tag traditionally associated with green living options. In fact, most homes will be priced between $190,000 and $330,000, making them attainable for many types of buyers in Austin.
Plan Your Energy-Efficient Home Today
Beyond the new sustainable homes that are being built in planned communities in Austin, there are plenty of other ways for new residents to reduce their carbon footprint and create a green lifestyle. To learn more about eco-friendly initiatives in Austin and to find out more about the current real estate market, contact our team of qualified real estate agents today.
There’s a variety of different ways homeowners can choose to make their home more environmentally friendly. Even one strategy can make an impact, but the more a homeowner chooses to use, the more visible the impact will be.