In the world of home building and interior design, trends come and go, but there’s one that’s here to stay: eco-friendly practices. Homes today are being increasingly built with sustainability in mind — think better insulation, high-performance HVAC, and low-emission materials. But there are also plenty of ways to keep your home green on a daily basis, long after you’ve moved in.
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 and Consider Green HVAC
According to the Department of Energy, setting your thermostat back by 7 to 10 degrees for at least eight hours a day yields an energy savings of up to 10%. Of course, it’s easy to forget to do this 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.
What’s more, being smart about your HVAC can improve air quality and improve your overall insulation, saving tons of unnecessarily wasted electricity. Ductless mini-split heat pumps draw heat from the existing environment to heat and cool your home, making them an especially sustainable HVAC option.
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.
When it comes to the outdoor parts of our homes, there’s plenty of room for wasted water. Instead of keeping your sprinklers on all day long, consider using rainwater collection barrels to capture water for later use on your plants and lawn. Plus, landscaping methods such as xeriscaping use native plants and little to no water — especially great for Texas-friendly succulents!
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 Furnishings Made from Natural Materials
Ensuring that your home is made from sustainable materials is the first step in a truly eco-friendly home. But what you fill your home with is just as important.
When it comes to furniture, invest in natural wood pieces that are built to last. Check for certification from the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure that your pieces have been sustainably harvested.
As for textiles, they hold just as much potential to be environmentally toxic. Choose materials derived from plants, such as organic cotton, linen, and hemp for bedding materials, and stick with jute, cotton, and wool for rugs and accessories.
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 custom home and save money on your energy bills. If you’re serious about going green, solar power 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!
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. 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 sustainable home from the beginning.
Our 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!