What’s blue or white or gray, and green all over? Your new custom home, if you take the right steps. “Greening” your home means choosing appliances and features to help you regulate your home’s energy and water consumption. It may also mean purchasing paints, cleaners, and other substances that won’t pollute the air or local waterways. It’s a great way to get a green start in your new home — and it’s easy to manage. Just follow these tips!
Change Your AC Air Filters Regularly
Clogged, dirty, and dusty air filters mean your AC is working harder than it needs to — and using more energy. To green your home, lower your energy bills, and extend the life of your air conditioner, change your filters every four to six weeks.
Buy an Automated Thermostat
According to the Department of Energy, setting your thermostat back by seven to 10 degrees for at least eight hours a day yields an energy savings of up to 10 percent. Of course, it’s easy to forget if you’re manually adjusting the temperature. A programmable thermostat can help, allowing you to literally set it and forget it. Smart thermostats, like the Nest or Honeywell Lyric, take this idea one step further, “learning” your behaviors and offering suggestions for energy savings based on your routine and local energy prices.
Use VOC-Free Paint
One of the first things new homeowners like to do when they move in is paint the walls. But many interior paints contain VOCs, a chemical linked to air pollution. Long-term exposure to these gases can even affect your family’s health — according to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation and headaches in some people. Do yourself and the Earth a favor, and opt for one of the many VOC-free paints available today.
Put Your Sprinkler System on a Timer
A lush carpet of grass may be easy on the eyes, but it’s not always easy on the environment. Lawn irrigation is far and away the largest source of water use in homes, and homeowners are not always careful about how they use it. Fortunately, it is possible to keep your lawn green and conserve water. Install a smart sprinkler timer that can maximize watering efficiency based on local weather forecasts. Also, make sure each sprinkler head is positioned correctly so that all the water is going onto your turf and landscaping, not paths or driveways.
Purchase an Energy-Efficient Washer and Dryer
As a new homeowner, you’re likely in the market for appliances. And some appliances are definitely more environmentally friendly than others. That’s especially the case with your clothes washer and dryer, which consume both energy and water to get the job done. Energy-efficient homes use washer and dryer models that bear the Department of Energy’s ENERGY-STAR program label. These models have been tested and found to use less energy than comparable appliances, so make sure to look for that certification when you’re shopping around.
Choose Energy-Conserving Window Treatments
When it comes to your energy bills, all window treatments are not the same. Insulating blinds and shades, such as cellular shades, can reduce solar heat gain by as much as 15%. These special shades have a honeycomb structure that makes them better equipped to handle the Texas heat. And the cooler it is inside your home, the less air conditioning you need — and the less energy you use!
Consider Solar Energy
Solar energy has come a long way in the last decade, and it’s gaining popularity all around the world as a green source of energy. In fact, there are even solar panels installed on the White House! While a solar energy system is a big investment, green energy homes like these draw less energy off the electric grid, meaning they use fewer natural resources. In fact, solar is one of the most effective ways to green your home and save money on your energy bills. If you’re serious about going green, solar is something to think about.
Use Your Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans aren’t just there for decoration. Using them in the summer allows you to turn up the AC setting by several degrees, which can make a big difference energy-wise. It may also be a more effective way to cool down: if you’ve just come in from the heat, the air flow promotes evaporation and spurs your body’s natural cooling systems. So set those fans to high!
Make Your Own All-Purpose Cleaners
You probably already know that conventional cleaners aren’t great for your health, but they also cause problems for the environment. Small quantities of these chemicals may be washed into nearby riverways, harming their aquatic life. Instead, make your own all-purpose cleaners using water, white vinegar, and a drop or two of your favorite essential oil. They smell great too!
Clean Indoor Air Naturally with Houseplants
This tip will make your home greener and prettier. Not only do houseplants create oxygen, but certain species can even purify the air in your home. NASA scientists have compiled a complete list of houseplants that remove toxins from the air, but some of our favorites are spider plants, variegated snake plants, and heart leaf philodendrons. The green list doesn’t stop there, though. There are tons of ways to keep the ball rolling in your home: composting, buying reusable shopping bags, and planting an edible garden, for instance. Or you can purchase an electric mower, plant trees for natural shade, or invest in an electric car. Of course, one of the best ways to improve your home’s environmental footprint is to start with a greener home from the beginning. Our custom homes at Paradisa Homes are built with energy-efficient features like high-performance HVAC systems and low-E windows. Your comfort — and the health of the environment — are our biggest priorities!