If you are like me, you are constantly trying to reduce your carbon footprint and dependence on oil and other non- renewable energy sources. I drive a hybrid, am slowing converting all my incandescent light bulbs to CFL bulbs, recycle as much as possible and use water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Needless to say these are small steps and I often wonder if I could be doing more – much more.
As a realtor I tour homes every week in which the builder or homeowner has spared no expensive to upgrade the kitchen and baths, finish the basement, add decorative moldings, plant expensive landscaping, install automatic sprinkler systems, etc. But rarely do I see a home with an alternative, eco friendly heating and cooling system.
Here in Massachusetts about half of all homes are heated by oil. According to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association costs for heating a home by oil this winter are expected to increase by 47.3% from last winter. Projected increases for natural gas and electricity are less shocking, 9.2% and 8.6% respectively. Given these high costs you would think that more consumers would be going green and turning to alternative sources of energy, such as geothermal or solar, for home heating and cooling. Apart from the very progressive developer or builder, that is just not the case from what I see in my day to day adventures in real estate.
Many people are under the impression that 1) eco friendly systems for heating and cooling are too expensive install and/or 2) not possible without the perfect climatic conditions. These systems can be more expensive, but as the technology improves the price will and has decreased. There is also the additional offset of long term savings on heating and cooling costs. In regards to the second issue – geothermal and solar systems can be installed almost anywhere. Germany, not exactly the sunniest of locations, uses more solar energy than any other country in the world. Even in New England the ground is sufficiently warm enough to produce geothermal heat. Case in point – Monarch Lofts in Lawrence is installing a geothermal system to heat and cool 202 residential condo units.
Granted going green does often increase costs, at least in the short term, but should home heating costs continue to escalate, I am sure consumers will begin to demand homes with alternative heating sources and other eco conscious features. Recent surveys have shown that buyers are willing to pay extra for a new home with eco friendly features.
Of course in the interim there are options for those of us wanting to do our part for the environment, but unable to build a new home.
- Remodeling? Incorporate some green or renewable materials such as bamboo flooring, low toxic finishes, low flow toilets and showers, countertops made from recycled glass, etc. For inspiration and materials check out Ecohaus.
- Install programmable thermostats, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), and solar or on-demand water heaters.
- Pay attention to the Energy Star ratings and buy energy efficient appliances.
- Install energy efficient windows and insulation.
By doing what we can now and demanding alternatives in the near future, perhaps we can make a difference in preserving the planet for our children and grandchildren.
As an internet platform for green, energy efficient and sustainable homes, we have reviewed some interesting and creative verbiage used by some sellers in the real estate marketplace. In the environmental business we call this “green washing”.
Green washing is when someone uses “green” terminology to help drive more interest to an otherwise typical (in this case) home for sale, in a currently flat and bloated real estate market.
This “green” terminology could be words such as:
- Healthy environment
We’ve seen ads that would say “a solar home”, when all they really had was a wall that faced south.
Or maybe the home just has CFL’s (compact florescent lighting) and not much else in the home. Although minimal improvements help the environment in a small way, there are cool innovative green homes out there that are making heads really turn in a BIG way. includes ( loves to promote) innovative building technologies that we believe will make the quickest (and the biggest) change in the environment regarding the way we live, the homes we live in and the way we build them.
Things we take for granted every day, do have a direct impact on global warming. The toilets we flush, the indoor air we breathe, the utility bills we pay; all these everyday duties affect the environment and our health.
There currently are so many new technologies in sustainable home building, that we could make a huge impact right now, not years later. We can currently heat most of our water with thermal solar and not the black stuff you see on roofs, but innovative glass tubes that absorb UV rays year-round; recycle all our grey water (sinks and showers) and redirect that water to flush our toilets; building design and orientation to take advantage of the natural heating and cooling effects in a particular location; construct living environments utilizing innovative building materials that may come from recycled or renewable sources that also offer a tremendous R-factor.
A one-two punch in not only saving our limited building material resources, but also less requirement from fossil fuels and the like, to heat and cool our homes everyday.
We’ll have to wean Ourselves from wasting things, By thinking more efficiently we can save money effectively Yes, that’s the key to thinking green. — Primm
What does it mean to go green? Unless you live on the planet Mars you hear it everywhere. On the news, on college campuses, from government officials, even in car commercials. I even heard a rap song about going green.
The Going Green Movement has spawned a whole new language with words like Greenhouse Gases, Closed Loop Recycling and everyone’s favorite Global Warming. Plus a host of other terms too many to mention here.
What does it all mean? The Going Green movement, popularized by former Vice President Al Gore, is performing actions that work to save the environment. For example, recycling, using low-energy appliances, conserving water and a host of other actions people can take.
Yes, Eco- friendly homes are the new trend today, whether you’re a home builder or a home buyer. Because it not only works to help save the planet but it’s a dependable way to save money. The U.S government is even paying people who own homes to go greener in the form of tax breaks and tax credits.
In this week’s newsletter I’ll give you simple but effective tips to helping your household go green. But most important show not only how to go green but how to save some green … as in money.
Here are 5 Tips To Help Your Home Go Green and Save Some Green.
1. Install Low Energy Light Bulbs.
A quick and easy way to start turning your home green and saving the green is by installing energy efficient light bulbs in your home.
Energy efficient light bulbs technical name is Compact Fluorescent lights or CFL’s for short. These light bulbs use one-third the electrical energy of old fashion incandescent light bulbs. In addition, they can last up to 10 times longer. This is instant money savings. Can you say Ka-ching?
2. Trade Thirsty Plants and Landscaping for Drought or Low Maintenance Plants.
Low maintenance plants and landscaping will not only save your home energy cost; it can also save your energy.
Imaging having beautiful landscaping without the hassle of watering, weeding and pampering it on your precious days off. All it takes is a little thought and a little planning.
For example, use plants that are native to your area of the country. Why? Because they’re easier to grow and maintain – plus they’ll use less water.
Pick landscaping that adapts with the climate and soil conditions in your area. The best way to do this is to consult with your local nurseries.
3. Use More Natural Products to Decorate Your Home Instead of Manufactured Products.
When decorating your home think water saving shower heads, toilets and faucets.
When decorating think natural woods like bamboo, teak and other woods that grow fast.
For example, think African Decor. Because many of the woods used come from trees that grow fast and plentiful.
4. Let Your Uncle Sam Pay You To Go Green.
You can receive Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Tax Credits. According to the U.S Department of Energy, consumers who purchase and install specific products, such as energy-efficient windows, insulation, doors, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment in the home can receive a tax credit of up to $500 beginning in January 2006.
The EPACT (The Energy Policy Act of 2005).
This Federal law provides a credit equal to 30% of qualifying expenditures. For purchase of qualified photo voltaic property and for solar water heating property used exclusively for purposes other than heating swimming pools and hot tubs.
The credit shall not exceed $2000.
Improvements must be installed in or on the taxpayer’s principal residence in the United States. Home improvement tax credits apply for improvements made between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2007. -U.S Department of Energy
5. Decorate With More Plants Instead of Plastics.
EPA studies confirm indoor air pollution affects more people than outdoor pollutions. Because of low air circulation indoors and the number of manufactured products such as plastics, glues and paint located inside homes, indoor air pollutions continue as a growing threat. Especially to the many African Americans who suffer from respiratory ailments such as asthma, sinus problems and other allergies.