Our planet is constantly changing, and climate change, global warming, floods, droughts, and natural disasters have become relatively common. These are indications that we are burdening our planet beyond its capacity and over-utilizing its resources. In this era of environmental consciousness, it is crucial to be environmentally aware and accountable.
This is the least we can do to better our planet and the coming generations; for now, this is the only earth we have. One such measure can be trying to build an eco-friendly home for oneself and your family. It will not only save you money, lead to healthy living but also benefit the planet.
Are you interested in building an eco-friendly home? A team of architects and engineers has shared tips that will help you plan a house that not only makes you proud of the project but also suits the needs of healthy life in the long term.
Here are some tips that will help you think about your home like an eco-friendly person.
In this article, let us look at some ways to make your home eco-friendly.
Having a green home has many advantages. Apart from being energy-saving, the eco-friendly home has minimal wastage and uses biodegradable and sustainable materials for construction. Also, it has a positive impact on human psychology, and adults can pass on the environmental values to their children. A green home uses the resources judiciously, utilizes less electricity and does away with those with a negative environmental impact.
Initially, building a green home might cost you a little extra; however, the house would become self-sustaining and help you save a lot with time.
1. Altering the design
The first thing that you need to consider is the main entrance of the house. Do you have a spacious and airy entrance that welcomes visitors, or do you have a narrow and enclosed one? This will be a very important decision as this will be your first impression of the home.
Depending on the style and size of the home, you can either make it an entrance hall or a living room. One great way to create a green entrance would be to change the roof to a different shape and arrange that home so that the guests enter through the garden.
2. Keeping an eye on resources
The next thing to consider is energy. Is there a gas power plant close to the house? Is there a well? Are the radiators working efficiently? Are there any inefficient appliances in the kitchen that you can eliminate? You have to have a critical eye on the resources you use and reduce wastage. If possible, you should switch over to electricity.
It is always better to go for more natural materials in the house rather than synthetics. Do not waste water by showering or bathing for too long. Use greywater or wastewater for cleaning purposes. Install water recycling plants in the bathrooms and kitchen. Recycle and reuse whatever you can and use them in the construction.
4. Choosing the perfect location
An eco-friendly home is designed to keep environmental concerns at the forefront. Hence, while choosing the right place for your home, you should not construct a west-facing home. This will keep your home naturally cool, even in summers. Also, you should not choose geographically sensitive locations as they are prone to hurricanes and earthquakes. Also, choose such an area where the local market and public transport is nearby. This would allow you to save money on fuel and also reduce your carbon footprint.
You can find a lot of designs online for your home that can help you plan a more eco-friendly house.
5. Using nature
A lot of designers make use of nature as an element in their designs. Many use local foliage, floral designs, live walls, natural stone for walls, and rock or sand for floors. Choose these elements that are in harmony with the natural surroundings.
6. Use eco-friendly construction material
To build an eco-friendly house, environmentally friendly material must be used at all costs. Right from roofing, building material and cabinets, to flooring, everything should be eco-friendly.
You can go for reclaimed lumber, recycled plastic goods and natural substances like cork, bamboo and linoleum. These materials are not harmful to the environment and are sustainable.
7. Switch to LED
LEDs are the best choice for indoor lighting because they consume less energy and give better quality. It would be best if you switched over to LED light bulbs when you begin constructing your home.
8. Use the smallest and most economical washing machine
Many people waste water by doing laundry. You can use a small electric or a solar water purifier to wash your clothes.
9. Let nature give you the best
You can grow your herbs on your roof or indoor garden. Trees and plants can also be planted in the garden to beautify the house and give it a beautiful ambience. You can also let nature provide fruit, flowers, leaves, vegetables, and other organic plants. This will make it easy to maintain the greenery and keep it organic.
10. Clean water in every room
There are many ways to purify tap water in your home. You can use a simple carbon filter for the kitchen. For the bathrooms, install an ultraviolet purifier that will destroy bacteria and viruses in the water when bathing or showering. The toilets should be equipped with an eco-friendly septic tank system.
11. Keep energy bills low
You can reduce the cost of lighting by using efficient LED lights and solar water heaters. You can also use a more minor but efficient AC to keep your home cool and save on electricity. Make sure all appliances and devices in your homes are eco-friendly and energy-efficient. Even the smallest AC requires electricity to run.
12. Rammed earth brick
Rammed earth brick structures were reasonably common in the ancient and medieval world. Not to say, they were strong enough and highly efficient. With the discussion around environment and sustainability, this technique has been brought back in popularity. It is being used in independent constructions, and the process has been made easier as well.
The procedure consists of mixing soil, water and cement in the proper proportions. The amount of aggregate used determines whether or not you would end up using earth bricks or concrete bricks.
Most designers agree that this material has several benefits over other materials like having suitable insulating properties, being ultra-resistant to fire and mould growth, keeping termites and insects away, and being inexpensive and sustainable.
When building homes, you must consider the environment, which we all share. One of the best ways to ensure this is by building eco-homes for yourself and your family.
You can choose to build a house that uses natural materials like earth bricks instead of cement bricks. You can also use solar energy to power your home, harnessing the cleanest energy source available to us today.
Eco-friendly homes are now in demand worldwide because people are now aware of their positive impact on our environment and lives. The next time you plan to purchase or construct a home, make sure it is as environmentally friendly as possible.
13. Choosing a viable roofing material
Eco-friendly houses should have a good quality, natural and sustainable roofing material. Such material should reflect and not absorb the sun’s heat and should cool faster in the evenings. It should aid in reducing energy costs. Some sustainable roofing materials include slate, terracotta, white tiles, special membranes, and metal roofing options. These materials have different environmental benefits and are better than conventional brick roofs.
If you have a reasonable budget, you can go for innovative renewable technology such as getting a green roof. It is also called a living roof as it can sustain plants that grow on the roof and are watered by rain. They filter rainwater and also provide great insulation. This roof also allows us to store water and prevents it from going into the storm sewer system. The living roofs are used primarily on commercial buildings, but these roofs can also be installed in homes and residential places.
Although green roofs are truly best, they are expensive; they are a worthy investment and offer great returns.
PVC has gained a poor reputation because of its negative environmental impact. It is made from petroleum products, which are non-renewable sources of energy. However, there are certain variations of the material that are made using plant-based oils or chlorine gas. If you want to use this product for your home, it is best to do your research and find out which substance variation is used in making PVC products. It also depends on where you purchase these items from because not all distributors use safe manufacturing methods.
15. The materials used for flooring
Eco-friendly homes should use natural materials like bamboo, cork, hardwood, hemp, jute, linoleum and rubber flooring. Other resources include recycled Rubber Tiles, Rubber Flooring coupons, etc.
16. Electrical appliances
Before purchasing or using electrical appliances within your home, you should first make sure that they are energy-efficient ones that help reduce electricity consumption by utilizing natural forms of energy. There are a number of eco-friendly appliances, which you can begin using in your home or place of business to help reduce energy consumption and promote sustainability.
17. Lighting should be sustainable
Natural lighting from the sun is free and very much accessible anywhere on earth. Try to use natural lighting as much as possible during the day as it is sustainable. If you have to use artificial lighting, make sure that they are CFL or LED lights as these technologies offer better overall performance and promote sustainability.
18. Heating and cooling systems
Heating and cooling systems should be designed in a way that consumes less energy. There are various ways to do this; you can use solar heating panels in colder climates, geothermal heating and cooling systems or ground source heat pumps.
19. Biodegradable household cleaners
If possible, try to switch to green products that are better for the environment and healthy for your loved ones. These environmentally friendly solutions are available at hardware stores.
20. The goods you use are biodegradable
It’s best to opt for green products that are 100% natural, organic or recycled as they help reduce the need for landfills and keep your home clean without adding toxins into the environment. According to Eco-friendly houses should have a good quality, natural and sustainable roof. Roofer working in the green roof industry should be wary of their work and use only safe, non-toxic products.
21. The windows should be energy efficient
Energy-efficient windows help insulate your home against heat gain and loss, keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer while saving on heating and cooling costs. These windows are highly efficient because they trap the cool air in the summer and help keep warmth inside during winter.
22. Green alternatives to pesticides
The use of pesticides is bad for health and very harmful to the environment as many insects die because of these poisonous substances sprayed on plants, flowers, and shrubs. Try to use organic pest control instead, which can be done by using herbs or using eco-friendly and biodegradable chemicals.
23. Go for a smaller house
For a nuclear family, a small, efficient, cost-effective home is ideal. Large houses take up much time for cleaning and maintenance. So, a small home built with eco-friendly materials and techniques is best.
Compact units are also very energy efficient and require fewer resources. Due to this, an eco-friendly family home is cost-effective and will have greater longevity than any conventional house. You can also add elements such as a solar water heating system for a less energy-consuming house.
Without overlooking the many environmental factors, there is only one crucial aspect that needs to be considered. This is the price. The cost of an eco-friendly home should not limit you. If you are willing to go through the construction process, you can make a safe and reliable home.
24. Buy energy-efficient gadgets for your home
The Energy Star label on a device means that the product is labelled as energy efficient by the Environmental Protection Agency. Eco-friendly homeowners should go for these energy star electrical appliances that offer cost savings and save energy while being high performance.
It would help if you looked out for compact and energy-efficient electrical appliances for your home. Some energy-efficient products include dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, and air filters. Eco-friendly air filters such as HEPA filters can also be very efficient. These filters can save you from a lot of dust and other pollutants that pollute the air.
25. Use renewable energy
Renewable energy is free, and this is easily accessible. Try to use solar power as much as possible for any electrical appliances you have at home. They’re very efficient and save money with their use. If you can afford it, the best thing is to install a full-sized photovoltaic system that can be used for a number of applications in the house.
26. Eco-friendly heating and cooling systems
Often, people opt out of gas heating and cooling systems because they are cheap to use and high performance at times. If you want to consider eco-friendly materials, try opting for geothermal heating and cooling system. It is very efficient, cost-effective, and uses renewable energy to keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter.
27. Eco-friendly wall insulation
Insulating walls is essential for an eco-friendly house. If you are planning to insulate your walls, consider using materials that are non-volatile organic compounds (VOC) free. Some eco-friendly insulation materials include wool, hemp, and other plant-based oils. These are naturally occurring products that can insulate your home while being safe for use inside the house.
28. Use natural paint
Using paint in an eco-friendly manner is very important because painting is one of the most common and easy means of decoration known to man. Some popular brands make paints with natural ingredients such as oil, soy, and milk. These paint mixtures protect the environment by not polluting water sources and also help maintain indoor air quality.
This type of paint generally emits a very less amount of harmful gases than conventional paints. This will not only keep your home environment-friendly but also keep you and your family healthy.
29. Green landscaping
A green landscape not only looks beautiful to the eye, but it also provides beauty where it is needed most – inside our homes. If you are looking forward to eco-friendly landscaping ideas, try to use native plants. These plants are typically adapted to the local climate, so they require less water and care.
They work great in any garden or landscape design because of their naturally low maintenance attributes. Just make sure you don’t kill them by using fertilizers with harsh chemicals that harm the environment.
30. Waste recycling
Trash is something that everyone has to deal with. Most people use regular trash cans or bags for their waste disposal without giving the matter a second thought. But you can go eco-friendly by recycling your regular trash! Eco-friendly homes tend to recycle as much of their waste as possible because they believe in conserving resources, and recycling doesn’t hurt the environment.
31. Electrochromic smart glass windows
One of the energy-efficient technologies ideals for eco-friendly homes is electronic smart glass. It is perfect for summers to block the intense heat and solar radiation from reaching your home. Small electric signals run through the glass of the windows and charge them to alter the amount of solar radiation it reflects.
This is incorporated into the home or building’s control mechanism to block the solar radiation. This novel and sustainable technology aids in saving a lot on a property’s heating, air conditioning, and ventilation costs.
32. Minimal wastage, practice the three R’s
While you are constructing a new eco-friendly home, you should minimize wastage and reuse material from your old home. For instance, wood floors, doors, windows, carpets, etc., can be reinstalled in the new place. Also, go for recycled stuff like recycled glass, aluminium tile, reclaimed timber in your new eco-friendly home.
And for old stuff like tiles, sinks, etc., recycle them to reuse on roads or under highways across cities. This can save cost, but it would also be good for the environment as you are not disposing of these things which will cause harm to our planet earth.
Also, try utilizing rainwater as much as possible. If that is not possible, try to use greywater, which could be used for flushing and lawn watering.
33. Solar panel installation
Solar roof-top panels are ideal for eco-friendly homes. They power your house with green electricity generated from the sun’s light and heat. Solar panels help manage electricity bills, reduce a household’s carbon footprint, and depend on the national grid.
If you produce excess electricity from solar panels, you can send it to the grid and even earn money. These solar panels do not require much maintenance, and most of them can cover the home’s water heating needs too. All in all, solar panels are convenient and a great choice if you want to build an energy-efficient home for your family.
34. Rainwater harvesting and ankless water heaters
A green home should have a water conservation mechanism, and an efficient rainwater harvesting system does exactly that. The stored water from rains can be used in the toilet or growing vegetables in the kitchen garden.
Also, new renewable technologies have become popular, and tankless water heaters are one such piece of equipment. It heats only that much water that is required as the water goes through an electric coil. So it prevents energy wastage and saves space too.
35. Plant green on the roof
You can look for an eco-friendly contractor to make your roof-top greener. The contractors will install particular vegetation on your roof that absorbs carbon dioxide and converts it into oxygen, thus improving air quality. This is especially helpful in big cities like Beijing, where pollution levels are very high.
36. Programmable thermostat
To save up on cooling and heating, use a programmable thermostat. It will bring your electricity bill down by 3 to 5% minimum. To get additional savings, it should be set 1 degree down in winters and 1 degree up in summers. The thermostat can be easily programmed through a mobile app for automation.
37. Install a greywater system
Greywater systems recycle wastewater for flushing, watering of lawns and gardens, which saves on freshwater usage. It is advised to go for aerators in taps as you need lesser water flow due to these.
Also, cover all your pool pumps and filter the incoming hot water through a pool cover to reduce heat loss.
38. Draft reducer
Drafts in a home may lead to a waste of energy due to air leakage from cracks and holes that are not appropriately sealed. Hire an expert who can fix this by installing draft reducers at doorways and windows designed to prevent heat loss.
39. Low-flow shower heads
Use low-flow showerheads as they are suitable for saving water; using them sensibly can save 100 litres of water per week, which is very good for the environment.
40. HVAC system
It is advisable to buy an energy-star-rated, high-efficiency HVAC system to save up on energy and money. The system should be installed correctly so it can work at its total capacity. The ducts should be short, straight and there should be no leaks. They should be tested and have less than 10% leaks.
HVAC system energy star rating
Energy Star Ratings of HVAC systems will come with a greenhouse label. The ratings of the appliances are given based on their performance in greenhouse gas emissions. The rating system evaluates a product by its heat efficiency, indoor air quality, and energy cost. Energy efficiency is given a score between one and ten; the higher the rating, the more efficient the product. The indoor air quality rating is evaluated on ozone levels and volatile organic compounds in a room.
41. Channelling geothermal power
Geothermal energy is one derived from the earth’s interior. It might come costly, given the equipment installation cost, but then it offers abundant energy to heat and cool the house. During winters, geothermal heat pumps use a loop to transfer the earth’s underground heat to your home via the HVAC system, and during summers, heat from your home is transferred back into the earth’s surface via a loop system.
Installing this technology can lower heating/cooling costs by 50% to 70%. New heat pumps also use heat-pump technology that is similar to an air conditioner.
42. Rock wool insulation
It is made from molten rock, sand, and other ingredients melted together at high temperatures and formed into granules or slabs. This insulation can be injected through small holes drilled between wall studs, forming a dense blanket.
This insulation has an inbuilt moisture-resistance feature, making it a fine choice for any area prone to dampness. These are typically made up of recycled material, and the production process produces little or no waste depending on what is used as filler material. It can be installed easily with construction adhesives, as a spray-on application, as well as drywall.
Last but not least…reduce, reuse and recycle
Reducing wastage by recycling is one of the best ways you can save the environment. You should reduce waste by buying only what you need or using second-hand material. When using old things, make sure they are reused and they are also in good condition.
Reusing is an excellent way of recycling without any extra cost to you. Using things more than once before throwing them away helps save natural resources, reduces landfill waste, and saves energy that can be used elsewhere.
Recycling means converting material from one form to another for reuse as a product. Recycling plastic, glass, and metals don’t require much effort or cost, whereas recycling paper is labour-intensive but good for the environment.
Many other small things can be done to save energy at home – washing machines with less water consumption, taking shorter showers, changing the filter once in a while
These are some ways we can build an eco-friendly home and contribute our bit to preserving our environment. As we have seen, eco-friendly homes are healthier for our bodies and our planet, plus they result in cost savings in the long term. So if you are planning to construct a house for your family, make sure to make it as sustainable as possible.