The image above is Catawba Valley Habitat for Humanity’s Zero Energy House in the Ridgeview Neighborhood of Hickory, North Carolina. It is considered to be the first Zero Energy home in the entire state.
It’s easy to want an eco-friendly home. It’s a whole other thing to actually put the time, effort and money into it. Especially when money is so difficult to earn and so ridiculously easy to spend. But while a green home may sound like a money pit, in the long run it’ll end up saving you a bundle. There are five easy steps you should keep in mind when dreaming, planning or building your eco-abode.
- Start within your budget. Don’t go out and buy the house of your dreams right away. Unless you can afford it, if that’s the case, go for it. But if you’re like millions of Americans, start with something reasonable. Many people do this by purchasing a rent-to-own home, or a foreclosed house. These options allow home buyers, especially first time buyers, to have more cash up front. Cash they can use to upgrade their home with more eco-conscience options.
- Get a home energy assessment: Find a professional in your area and have them come and look over your home. They will find any and all place where your home is leaking air and draining your wallet. An assessor will check the insulation, ducts, water heater and even use a thermal camera to see the sneaky heat leakers. (Pro tip: recessed lighting are often a culprit.)
- Out with the old, in with the new. Replace old, wasteful appliances with new energy efficient ones, especially those with an Energy Star label. Using these appliances can save you nearly 1/3 of your regular energy bill running old appliances.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. If you’re going to be remodeling or even starting fresh, think about what you can use right away. Maybe there’s a tree already on the property, when it grows it’ll produce shade and help cool your home. When remodeling, there is always something you can use. Demolished materials can often have a second life as distressed furniture or reused elsewhere. Maybe the ugly bricks from your fireplace don’t look quite as ugly bordering your garden? In fact, it looks down right lovely.
- Simple solutions. There’s a multitude of simple solutions to make your home more green. Try installing a ceiling fan. Fans are the cheapest and most efficient way to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Some of the greenest homes around use simple solutions like these.
Building or remodeling to achieve the eco-friendly home of your dreams, doesn’t have to be a dream. Just remember the five steps to a greener home; buy within your budget, assess your energy usage, replace old appliances, recycle everything you can and think simply. These easy solutions will have you well on your way to a greener home, a thicker wallet and a happier earth.