25 ways to make your house more sustainable
  • Category:
    Home Energy Savings
  • Published:
    January 7, 2020

25 Ways to Make Your Home Sustainable

When you make your house more sustainable, you’re making a contribution to improving the environment. But that’s not all. Home sustainability can lower the cost of running your home, saving energy, water and maintenance on systems and appliances. Even more than that, you create a healthier environment for yourself, your family and pets.

What is a sustainable home?

A sustainable home is an efficient home that’s built or retrofitted in a way that respects resources, optimizes energy and water use, and will last longer with quality systems.

Sustainable homes use low-impact, high-performance materials.They’re efficient in terms of manufacturing, shipping and installing. Plus, because high-quality materials and systems break less and last longer, they waste less.

What makes a house environmentally sustainable?

To make your house sustainable, consider every detail:

  • Building materials and methods
  • Decorating choices
  • Insulation
  • Windows
  • Heat, ventilation and air conditioning
  • Lighting
  • Appliances
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Use of smart systems
  • Energy generation from solar and wind
  • Your habits when it comes to regular maintenance, conservation and green cleaning

Should you buy a new environmentally friendly home or retrofit your current home for sustainability?

The choice between building a sustainable house or retrofitting your current home isn’t easy. Building new structures puts costs on the environment. On the other hand, new buildings include the latest technologies and approaches that benefit the environment over the long haul.

But there are all the other considerations involved in a move, such as cost, location, schools and life disruption. Like many people, you may decide that the most cost-effective way to go is investing in retrofitting to make your house sustainable.

Here, we’ll go through the home sustainability considerations and sustainable house features to keep in mind while considering both options.

New construction tips for building a sustainable house

Building a sustainable house through new construction aims to reduce waste, increase durable reliability and improve energy and water efficiency over the lifespan of the home.

new construction tips for building a sustainable house

1. Consider passive solar design.

Passive solar design uses energy from sunlight to aid in heating and cooling living spaces. Using no mechanical or electric equipment, passive solar design relies on building materials that reflect, absorb or transmit the sun’s radiation. Inside spaces are designed to facilitate the movement of sun-heated air without the use of fans. The results can reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool your home.

2. Install high-performance windows.

High-performance windows make a huge difference. Windows account for 50% or more of lost energy. New technologies include double glazing, special coatings, nonconductive framing materials and higher-quality, air-tight construction.

Replacing windows will result in better energy efficiency, less fading of your belongings and quieter rooms.

  • For a warmer climate: Look for what is called low solar gain, meaning less heat is conducted into your interior through the windows. Reflective technologies are very helpful, as is double glazing. Look for windows that also facilitate ventilation.
  • For a colder climate: Choose frames that are well insulated and have the right U-value, which is the measure of the rate of heat flow through a building part. Lower is better. Triple-glazed windows with a vacuum between panes can further minimize heat loss. Look for a tight fit to eliminate drafts.

You can read all about energy-efficient windows on Constellation’s post, “How Replacing Windows Increases Your Energy Savings.”

3. Invest in energy-efficient appliances for your home.

After HVAC systems, appliances are the real energy consumers in your home. Think of them as having two prices: the cost of buying and the cost of operating. When you buy the most energy-efficient options, you dramatically cut the second price.

Here are home sustainability considerations for the appliances that tend to consume the most electricity:

4. Install a drip irrigation system.

Keeping your yard healthy and green isn’t just about looks. Vegetation can keep your home cooler, serve as a windbreak and contribute to cleaner air. If you need to keep your yard watered, however, you’ll cancel the benefits pretty quickly with the wrong methods. Drip irrigation is a better alternative. Drip irrigation systems use gravity to deliver water to plants, focusing it directly on the roots where it’s needed. You not only save electricity by eliminating pumps but also minimize waste through evaporation.

5. Use eco-paints.

Eco-paints emit fewer toxins to reduce indoor air pollution. They’re also less toxic to manufacture.

6. Install a cool roof.

A cool roof is one that reflects the sun’s heat instead of absorbing it into your home. The effect on your cooling bill can be tremendous.

7. Investigate renewable energy options from your energy supplier.

Renewable energy is generated from natural replenishing resources like the sun, wind, and water. Find out how energy providers like Constellation are on the forefront for offering customers renewable options to meet your energy needs.

8. Talk to sustainability experts.

Sustainability is an area of fast innovation in home building, home systems, appliances and lighting. Sustainability experts can perform an energy audit to give you advice on easy fixes and the latest technology.

9. Recycle and reuse any construction waste.

Don’t just get a dumpster and send your waste to a landfill. You might want to save some materials for your own reuse, or you can sell bricks, wood and metal, even old appliances that have scrap value.

Easy fixes to make your current home more sustainable

A full retrofit of your home to make it sustainable can be expensive. Replacing windows will cost thousands of dollars. While worth doing, you can also pursue these easier, low-cost improvements to make your house sustainable:

10. Draft-proof your doors and windows.

Replacing leaky weatherstripping and using foam tape to cover cracks can eliminate gaps that cost you in terms of heat and air conditioning.

11. Invest in curtains or blinds.

Window treatments can add insulation value to windows by reflecting back solar energy and cutting drafts.

12. Reevaluate your home’s insulation.

A professional can give you advice on easy improvements, like foam injection, blown-in attic insulation and other options for insulating walls, floors and ceilings that add to your home’s energy efficiency.

13. Install solar panels.

Solar panels generate electricity you can use to power your home. By choosing energy sources like solar, customers can power their homes with a clean energy source that emits less carbon emissions than fossil fuels.

14. Clean your refrigerator’s coils.

Maintenance makes a difference. Your refrigerator will draw less power and perform better if you keep the coils on the back free of dust and grime.

15. Install a water filter that removes microplastics.

Adding a filter to your washing machine will ensure that you aren’t adding microplastics to the environment. You can also filter your tap water coming into your home to keep microplastics out of your drinking water.

16. Replace fluorescent light bulbs with LED or CFL bulbs.

Offering longer life, greater energy efficiency and fewer toxic metals, these new bulbs are worth the switch.

17. Clean the filter on your clothes dryer.

A dirty filter is a fire hazard and a waste of energy. Clean it regularly for drier clothes and lower energy consumption.

Simple daily changes to support your sustainability goals

Upgrading your personal habits is just as effective in improving home sustainability as upgrading your appliances and systems.

18. Create a compost bin of kitchen scraps.

Composting keeps waste out of landfills and creates a nutrient-rich additive for your garden.

19. Plant an energy-efficient garden.

An energy-efficient garden minimizes water use. Plant according to differing watering needs and use plenty of mulch. Collect rain water to use for drip irrigation.

20. Use smart power strips.

Use these in place of regular power strips to save energy. They sense when your device is in active use and cut power when it’s in standby.

21. Use cold water when washing your clothes.

High-efficiency washers and modern detergents get your clothes clean without needing hot water. Your clothes will look newer longer.

22. Buy recycled products.

Buying products made with recycled materials is good for the environment and creates more demand that encourages more recycling.

23. Use dryer balls.

Dryer balls keep your clothes separated as they tumble, increasing airflow and dryer efficiency.

24. Line-dry your clothes.

Better than a dryer is drying your clothes on a line the old-fashioned way. You can get the benefits of both by line-drying to start and finishing with a few minutes of tumbling in your dryer.

25. Use natural cleaning products.

Natural cleaning products keep toxins out of the water supply, out of your indoor air and off your skin.

You can make your house sustainable — whether buying new or improving your current environment — with some quick changes and some thoughtful investments. Home sustainability will pay you back in energy savings as well as comfort.

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