Green Home Design Basics
Find Out Where YOUR Home is Losing Energy:
We live an unsustainable lifestyle. Our widespread use of natural resources and contamination of our planet are taking their toll on the environment, and it's starting to affect our ecosystem and climate. Fortunately, we're becoming more aware of the impacts and starting to change our ways. One way that's seeing steady growth throughout the world is green home design. What was previously a small niche market will soon become a large segment of the real estate industry, according to some industry experts.
Green Building Reduces Environmental Impact
A tremendous amount of resources are used to build homes, in the form of materials and energy for construction and transportation. And once the home is built, it uses vast amounts of energy for heating, cooling, lighting and appliances. In fact, homes in the U.S. generate 38% of the country's total carbon emissions. So in our quest to protect the environment and fight climate change, an important area to consider is the way we build our new homes. Here are five basic green home design ideas to help reduce the environmental impact.
Green Home Design Idea #1: Go Small
We have an obsession in this country with the notion that "bigger is better." Larger equals more, which is better. And it's hard to argue that a large home with lots of space isn't desirable. But if you want to build a green home, go small. It takes less resources to build a smaller home, and creates less waste. And once the home is built, it requires less energy for heating and cooling, which saves environment-destroying fossil fuels.
Green Home Design Idea #2: Design According to Climate
Green building design takes climate into account when deciding not only on building materials and insulation, but on the orientation of the building, the location of the windows, type of flooring and other elements designed to reduce energy waste. In warm climates, homes are designed to reduce the amount of heat that's absorbed by the home. And in cold climates, homes are designed to reduce heat loss.
Green Home Design Idea #3: Use Recycled, Recyclable or Renewable Materials
Most of the materials used to build modern homes are harmful to the environment, by removing the materials from the earth, during the manufacturing process or in transporting them. When designing your green home, use locally manufactured renewable or recycled materials to reduce the impact on the environment. Bamboo and recycled wood are great flooring choices, and there are many green solutions throughout the home, such as cellulose insulation and wood composites.
Green Home Design Idea #4: Green Your Heating and Cooling Systems
Heating and air conditioning account for around 50% of the average home's energy bill, by far the largest energy expense. So design your green home with energy efficient heating and cooling in mind. Make sure your systems are properly sized for your home - bigger is not always better! Install ceiling fans in all rooms and use them in summer and winter to lower your energy bills. And install tankless water heaters to avoid heating water continuously, which is a huge energy waster.
Green Home Design Idea #5: Use Alternative Energy
The traditional ways of producing electricity and energy to heat and cool our homes are extremely harmful to the environment. They disrupt the earth, devastate ecosystems and introduce vast amounts of pollutants into our atmosphere. To reduce your impact on the environment, use an alternative energy source to power your home, such as solar, geothermal and/or wind energy. Your green builder or architect will be able to advise you on the most appropriate energy source for your climate.
Home Energy Problems & Solutions:
- Reduce High Energy Bills Energy Efficiency, Home Improvement Tools
- Drafty Rooms Air sealing, Heating and Cooling Contractor
- Peeling Paint Control moisture, Building Science Specialist
- Mold, Mildew or Musty Odors Reducing Indoor Humidity
- Dust Sealing air leaks, Change Filters
- Hot or Cold Rooms Room over a garage, ENERGY STAR ceiling fans
- Damp Basement Stop water leaks, Ventilation Fans
- Moisture on Windows Control Moisture, ENERGY STAR Labeled Windows
- Dry Indoor Air in Winter Home Sealing, Diagnostic Equipment
- Cold Floors in Winter Basement floor, Floor over a crawlspace
- Ice Dams Roofing Contractor, Diagnostic Equipment
We were unaware of what was involved in an energy audit and your audior took the time to explain everything. We were impressed with the report which told us the areas in which we need to take action on. He never pressured us to use any particular contractors, he just suggested that we go to the Building Energy Pros web site to select contractors of our own choice. He did an excellent job and we HIGHLY recommend the Building Energy Pros. We already have recommended them to several of our neighbors. Again, EXCELLENT JOB!
The Building Energy Pros auditor was very knowledgeable. I was VERY HAPPY with him. He promptly E-mailed my energy audit report to me and I will consider all of his recommendations.
We found out that our house really has no energy problems. We are happy to know that we
I was very satisfied with your energy auditor. He was very qualified and spent a great deal of time with me. The energy audit was very informative.
The energy auditor was very good and helpful. He keeps in touch with me to answer any of my questions.
I was very satisfied with my energy audit. The auditor gave me some tips on attic insulation that were very helpful.
I was very satisfied with my energy audit. Thank you!
Very good service! I am going to replace the windows as the auditor had suggested.
I was very happy with the energy audit. THANKS!
My energy audit was very helpful. Joe Dempsey, your auditor, identified some structural problems that I was not aware of and explained to me why I need more insulation.
The auditor was EXCELLENT! He spent ALOT of time with me. I am going to take 3 to 4 of his suggestions and correct these small items to save on my energy bills.
The auditor did a GREAT JOB! He knew a lot about older homes, which we have. The report was very comprehensive. Thank you!
Your energy auditor was very nice and helpful. He answered all of our questions. We will recommend Building Energy Pros to our friends and neighbors.
The auditor did a TERRIFIC JOB! The report was FANTASTIC! I will make all the repairs he suggested. I will definitely recommend him to everyone I know that could benefit from a home energy audit.
Steve Sleigh, Chevy Chase
The energy auditor was very professional and I am very satisfied with both the energy audit and the report I received. I will be referring the Building Energy Pros.
I was very satisfied with the auditor. He was great and gave me some very valuable information. I will refer him to people I know who may need a home energy audit.
Your home energy audit proved to be very informative and helpful. I was not aware of the updraft created inside our walls because of the balloon framing construction. You said that that can cause heat to be pulled out of the house with the draft going up inside the walls and should be re-mediated. You also said that the attic insulation was insufficient and that fiberglass batts can leave spaces for around the edges causing heat loss and that it should have blown in insulation on top of what was there to seal the whole attic and increase the r factor. After going over your findings and telling me how you would fix the problems you told me how I could do it myself with stuff from the Home Center and for a quarter of the cost. Well, I did. I went into the basement and filled the bottom of the wall joist with unfaced insulation where they set on the sill plate. I then cut one inch foam board the size for each space and set it in and the sealed the edges of that with expanding foam as well as the sill plate to the foundation. I also sealed the sill plate to the foundation where the joist ran along it, as well as the top of those joist where it made contact with the subflooring. Next I went to the home center and rented their blown insulation machine and got ten bales of the insulation. I filled the attic on top of the batt insulation with about six inches giving another r-19 factor on top of the r-19 that was there. You said that the blown in would also help seal the heat loss around the edges of the batt. The work in the basement cost $144.00 and the work in the attic cost $328.00. After the 30% federal energy tax credit it will end up costing me about $330.00, which you said I should recover in savings in the first year. Thank You for all your advice and expertise. You made me aware of things I should consider and did.