Whether it’s buying a car, the clothes that you wear, or the house that you live in the buzz today is all about going green and living eco friendly lives. There are some obvious benefits to going green, such as being less wasteful, saving money, saving energy, and health benefits, not to mention that it can just make you feel good knowing that you are doing something good for the earth. One of the problems that people who are looking for eco friendly house plans face is that it’s hard to know what really counts as being eco friendly when looking at various house plans. Here are some things to watch for so that you can find the real deal in green house plans:
Look for smaller house plans. The larger the home the more energy it will consume. Even with all the possible energy saving techniques in place a bigger home just uses more energy than a smaller home. To have a home that is the most efficient build a home that is just as big as necessary for your family. Custom home plans can be created to fit the needs of your family and not waste space.
Consider where you build the home. Building a home on the side of a mountain or in an open field is a lovely idea however, it is probably not the most eco friendly idea. Instead build your home near other already existing homes and developed areas. This is the least harmful to the environment surrounding the home. Less trees will need to be cut down and less ground will need to be torn away. Also, if you live closer to others it will be easier to carpool, bike, or take public transportation saving even more money.
Look for the natural light. The home should be placed strategically so that it can capitalize on natural light. During the daylight hours the majority of the light should come from the natural daylight instead of lamps and light bulbs. Windows and skylights can help to lower energy costs. Insulated dual glazed windows will reduce the heat gain in the summer and the heat loss in the winter months. Overhangs on the facades of the house facing south and west will help to prevent too much heat in the summer months.
The roof. A light colored roof will reflect the sun’s heat instead of absorbing it, helping to keep the house cooler. This is a good green option for new as well as already existing homes. Another roofing idea is a green roof which is partially or entirely covered by a layer of soil and vegetation. This type of roof protects from direct sunlight and acts as an added insulation.
Insulation. Look for a high R-value insulation, the higher the R-value the more effective it is as insulation. Avoid insulations that contain formaldehyde as a binding agent. Look for insulation made from soy, cotton, cellulose, or recycled content. A properly insulated home can save you hundreds of dollars over the life of your home.
Reduce energy usage. When purchasing appliances for a new or existing home look for energy star rated appliances. Efficient heating and cooling systems will save you energy and money. Install a programmable thermostat. You might also consider installing solar panels or a geothermal heating system as ways to bring energy into the house to heat water and deliver heating and cooling throughout the home. Some homes that use solar panels and geothermal are able to stay completely off the energy grid. Install ceiling fans and use those as often as possible instead of air conditioning, which can save you 30% on cooling costs.
Building materials. All building materials used should be non-toxic. Volatile organic compounds (VOC) evaporate quickly at room temperature and add to the indoor air pollution. Look for low or VOC-free paints, finishes, adhesives, and sealants. Use as many natural products that are rapidly renewable such as bamboo, as possible. You may also consider using recycled materials or materials with recycled components, including reclaimed lumber.
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find a house plan that fits your needs and includes all the eco friendly characteristics. Any green features that you incorporate into your eco friendly house plans helps to reduce your demand on nature and helps to save resources. Be aware of what green options are out there and determine which can best be used in your home.