According to research website Statista, the green and sustainable building industry was the fastest growing industry in the United States between 2012 and 2017, with over $288 billion generated in revenue. These numbers are a testament to the growing concern for human environmental impact, an issue with increasing prevalence in mainstream consciousness. Fortunately, as the sustainable construction industry gains traction nationwide, this growing marketplace provides individuals more access to resources that can help them incorporate sustainability into their own homes.
On top of saving the environment, building a sustainable home can also save you money. The durability of sustainable materials can reduce spending on repairs, while sustainable technology can cut down costs on energy consumption. So, if you want to invest in your home’s sustainability, we’ve listed a few upgrades you can make.
Invest in energy-efficient appliances
The easiest option is to design a home with energy-efficient appliances already in mind, so you don’t have to replace them later on. Although they can be costlier than their less efficient counterparts, they can significantly reduce the amount of energy your household consumes, thus giving you a higher return on your investment. For example, an energy-saving dishwasher can reduce energy and water consumption, cutting electricity and water bills in the process.
Power your home with solar energy
You can reduce fossil fuel consumption by using solar energy. According to solar technology manufacturer Hoymiles, going solar will not only reduce your electricity bill, but it will also let you control your own power source. This means that in the event of a community-wide blackout or power shortages, your home will still have the power to continue running as normal. And solar technology can also come with power storages, which allow you to generate electricity even under limited sunlight.
Improve home insulation
Energy Electives owner Jason Carney reports that 50% of the average home’s energy consumption can be attributed to HVAC, which stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Heating technologies such as air-conditioners are usually produced with coal and natural gas, which emit greenhouse gases. So, it’s important to find ways to manage heat in the house at a reduced rate, and you can do this via insulation. You will need to find out which parts of your home heat escapes, such as the attic, the basement, and walls, windows, and doors. Insulation traps also heat inside your home, which reduces the energy a home needs to spend to keep itself at a comfortable temperature.
One way to do this is to upgrade to a high-performance window system. A technical write-up by Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy highlights how high-performance window systems are made up of three spaced-out glass panes, each containing insulating spacers to keep heat inside. These glass panes also reflect sunlight, thus protecting your curtains, floors, and furniture from potential sun damage.
Use eco-friendly building materials
The production of building materials drives higher levels of carbon emissions. Using unsustainable building materials also accelerates how quickly you go through natural resources. Whether you’re building a new house or repairing large sections of an existing home, you should consider using eco-friendly building materials.
Urban development publication Smart Cities Dive outlines that the five most eco-friendly building materials include bamboo, cork, pre-cast concrete slabs, and recycled metals and wood. Bamboo and cork grow relatively fast and are extremely lightweight, which cuts down on the energy needed to transport them. Meanwhile, using pre-cast slabs and recycled metals and wood lets builders reuse existing materials rather than depleting resources.
Green construction doesn’t just make our homes more comfortable and efficient; it also minimizes our impact on the environment, thus allowing us to take steps towards a cleaner and brighter future. Using energy-efficient appliances, renewable energy, insulation, and eco-friendly materials are some of the methods we can use to make our homes more sustainable.
Article written exclusively for urbangreenlab.org
Authored by Remi Jane