Eco-Friendly Features of a House: What Makes a Home Green?
It’s no secret that the future is eco-friendly. We as a species are constantly innovating our existing technology, bearing greater conscientiousness toward the environment around us and how to make products ‘greener.’ That is, how to make them renewable, reusable and generally less destructive on the earth when they are created.
This also extends into the construction world, and construction contractors choose eco-friendly materials where possible. They also use that choice as a selling point with their customers. But, if you want to put some eco-friendly features of a house into your home, you can do so!
When DIYing, you must avoid these mistakes. It is always worth having a professional look over your work, particularly if you’re building a custom home and installing eco-friendly features as part of that build. Your insurance company may also require that a professional signs off any retrofitting.
Many things can characterise a sustainable home, but generally, they are characterised as homes that use less energy and natural resources and produce less waste. There are many ways to install eco-friendly features in your home, ranging from the simple to the expensive and extravagant.
Custom sustainable home designs are becoming more popular as homeowners-to-be move away from the traditional methods of heating, cooling and building or retrofitting their homes and shift focus toward ways to design homes that are cheaper to heat, cool and live in.
Some eco-friendly features typical of a sustainable home design include sustainably sourced timbers and other materials with a high thermal mass, saving you money on power bills, as these materials have a high capacity to absorb and release heat.
A home design that uses the sun to its benefit will sometimes have solar panels installed. Meanwhile, a home design focusing on water conservation may have a rainwater collection system for use in the gardens or feeding livestock. Or, homeowners may install low-flow showers or toilets to conserve water.
You may think of heated flooring as a luxurious design feature only for the wealthy, and while the price tag of between $30 and $115 per square metre may be eye-watering for some, compared to the $22 to $38 per square metre for regular flooring installation, the savings (and the comfort) of heated floors, particularly on the cooler days, make it a worthwhile expense.
The important thing to remember about heated floors is that they work with other eco-house features like solar systems and can be controlled via programmable thermostats and mobile phone applications to save even more money over time.
The lighting system is one of the most overlooked parts of installing eco-friendly features in a house. There are many different ways to make your lighting more efficient. These include choosing eco-friendly LED lightbulbs over traditional incandescent lightbulbs. Data from three years ago showed that Australian households save over $250/year when switching to LED bulbs. Furthermore, LED lightbulbs don’t contain mercury, whereas incandescent bulbs do.
Another way to make your in-home lighting more energy-efficient is to install dimmer switches and motion sensors for lights that don’t need to be at full brightness or often get left on by the kids.
Many older homes in Australia are still using single-pane windows, this accounts for 40% of winter heat loss and further losses on the 87% of heat gained through glazing in the summer. Switching all of your windows (or at least the sun-facing ones) to double-glazing will help keep heat in during the winter, saving you money on heating bills.
Maintaining single-pane windows is equivalent to paying to heat the outside world! Keep more of the heat you’re paying to generate inside your home by installing double-glazed windows as part of your custom home build. You could even check to see if your eco-conscious construction company would consider using recycling glazing as part of building a sustainable house.
Solar panels are becoming more popular throughout Australia, with as much as 20% of all Australian homes using rooftop solar systems in some form. Using a solar system as a base enables you to link your solar panels to power certain systems within your home.
Solar water heaters are among the most common. These include both indirect and direct circulation systems and passive systems. Unlike direct and indirect circulation systems, which move water through a solar collector via a pump, passive solar systems rely on the sun to heat the water within the holding tank, which is filtered through the home. Passive solar water heaters work well in Australia because of our high sunlight hours year-round. Passive solar systems are also cheaper than circulatory systems.
Link your solar system with programmable thermostats to better control heating and cooling within your home to capitalise fully on this eco-friendly house design feature.
It’s one of the core tenets of a more eco-friendly future. The ethos of reducing waste, reusing wherever possible and recycling things properly can easily be applied to so much of your family home. Whether you’re composting your food waste and planting a garden (ensure that you plan for this when you set up your land footprint during the construction phase) or simply ensuring that your kids understand how to recycle and what should be recycled.
Buying used or upcycled furniture is another opportunity to save money and the planet. You don’t need to buy a thousand-dollar couch when so many are sitting unused and taking up space in another’s home or garage. Providing that the couches are comfortable and in decent shape, you should aim to buy local and gently used wherever possible for your furnishings.
If you have to do any trade work to your home, whether installing in-floor heating via a plumber or having an electrician install your solar system or eco-friendly lighting system, reduce the strain on the environment by choosing a local tradie. Not only will they appreciate your business and you’ll be giving back to the local economy, but you’ll be reducing the carbon footprint of the tradie who has to travel thirty miles to your home and thirty miles back again.
There are many different options for installing eco-friendly features in your house. Here are the main benefits of just a few of these eco-friendly features.
One of the main benefits of installing eco-friendly features in your house is that they reduce the amount of greenhouse gases given off by your home. Australia’s homes account for up to 13% of the nation’s GHG output. Not as high as one might think, but it is a far cry from the country’s net-zero goals. However, by building a sustainable home, you’re contributing to reducing the country’s overall GHG output.
Along with the benefit of reducing your greenhouse gases, having a more sustainable home will mean long-term savings for short-term financial output. Additionally, you’ll likely notice your energy and water efficiency is far higher than the less-sustainable homes around you and your overall costs will be greatly reduced.
It will also mean less strain on the planet during the initial construction phase of your home and continuing commitment to the three R’s during the lifespan of it being your family home. By making energy-efficient improvements in the home, you’ll also increase the property’s value by up to 17%, with buyers willing to pay more for environmentally-friendly housing.
If you’ve been looking for a custom home builder, consider contacting us at Provincial Homes. We have the knowledge, experience, skillsets, trade professionals and passion for the planet that makes us one of the best eco-friendly home builders in New South Wales.