Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, has been a long time proponent of green living. He supports everyone’s efforts to become more environmentally friendly, and lives by example. From his home to this speeches, Al Gore focuses the majority of his energies on leading others to greener pastures. Here are some of the things that Al Gore has done to make his own home more environmentally friendly, or green.
Gore has installed solar panels on the roof his families home. This will let the Gores collect sunlight and make their own energy; thus powering their home with natural resources as opposed to man made electrical funds. This should make significant inroads into cutting the amount of electricity that they use from other sources. This is something that everyone can do. Solar panels help the environment and save money on electricity when installed in a home and maintained for a minimum of 5 to 10 years.
Al Gore and his family have also changed their lighting to become more energy efficient by using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). These bulbs last up to 10 times longer than standard light bulbs and best of all, they use less than half of the energy than a standard bulb requires.
The Gore’s have also upgraded their windows. Every citizen can save money, and benefit the environment, by installing windows that retain heat in the winter and help keep their home cool in the summer.
Their home in Nashville, Tennessee also has a pool. To make their pool more energy efficient, they have installed a geothermal system. This system takes heat from the ground and transfers it to the pool, thus keeping the pool water at the same temperature all of the time without using more energy and a pool heating system to accomplish the same task.
Al Gore is clearly one of the most influential, environmentally sound advocate of our day. By following the examples of both Al Gore and his family, we all can live a little greener.
It is getting more and more popular to go green, and many Americans are leading the way in their housing choices. One area recently reported that their realty market was stagnant except for a big rush on newly built homes that came up for sale. They were powered by solar heating and were extremely energy conscious to run.
Solar heating is one smart choice in a sunny area. You will always have hot water to hand and solar power can be transformed into other energy and stored for when you want to run different appliances.
It may be that many of these buyers are trying to help the environment, but one good side effect of going green, is that the running costs will be less once you have set yourself up to be operating an energy conscious home. Heating and cooling systems can account for up to a half of your total energy bill in a non-green home.
One place to read about how to save energy in your home is Energy Star, the government’s on line site. Their many tips point out which energy is being wasted and where and how to avoid it. The on line site offers advice and free booklets to send for, and gives dozens of pointers on how to live green and how to build green.
One of the sites on Energy Star give you the top ten tips for finding a good contractor in your area, if you want to build a ‘green’ house or have a radical make-over.
Of course, there are other small ways that you can save energy and money in your pocket. One of their recommendations is that you stop buying the old-fashioned light bulbs and start buying the new compact fluorescent light bulbs.
These are expensive to buy at first, but on the cost of one light bulb, you can save up to $30 over the lifetime of one light bulb. If you live in a hot climate, you may be pleased to know that they put out less heat, so will also keep your air conditioning costs down. This is a very small change for you to make, yet it does save your cash and the environment.
The local governments and/or the federal government offer a selection of rebates to try and encourage people to become more energy conscious in their homes.
These grants, or one time rebates, can cover several different areas of green living. For instance, if your own state does not offer incentives for you to buy an efficient wood stove or furnace, you may be able to get one from the federal government.
The amount of the grant does not cover the cost of buying a new stove, however, it can save several hundred dollars from the price.
If your are planning to buy a home and have it built for you, remember that many builders will add your requirements in at the end, so therefore it is often easy to ask for preferred green options in a newly built house.
There is also a scheme that is run through the Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM). Under this scheme you can use green building materials and designs and qualify for a green mortgage. You can even get mortgage help from these people if you are only planning to renovate, as long as you will be using green techniques and ideas.
If you want to find out more ideas about how to incorporate environmental considerations into the design, you will get some input from the green site at the National Association of Home Builders (NAH). Their site also includes such simple pointers as planting trees that let light into the home in the winter, and give shade in the hot summers, as well as tips on water conservation, and other reminders.
Some of the luxuries in a home which are not so ‘sustainable’ are being changed – gradually. For instance granite counter -tops are still fashionable, but buyers will often choose the look alike’s made from engineered stone. These are lighter and have not used up large amounts of gas being carted around the country.
Similar ‘swaps’ are made with hardwood floors and kitchen cabinets. Bamboo is widely used nowadays in homes by people who prefer to use sustainable resources. Bamboo wood flooring looks like hard oak wood floors but it grows in one tenth the time of an oak tree!
As the Santa Barbara real estate market has slowed in the last 18 months, it makes sense that some Realtors are trying to stand out with niche marketing efforts. One of these niches seems to be Realtors marketing themselves as eco-friendly and green. While I am 100% supportive for anyone with an eye on environmentally conscious action (real estate or otherwise), make sure your Realtor is not using “basic green talk” as cursory knowledge of green building simply as a marketing ploy in a tougher market.
Again, I loudly applaud any Realtor that is going out of their way to learn about solar, energy-efficient appliances, geo-thermal pumps, earth friendly design and products, improving indoor air quality, tax credits for energy saving improvements from a homeowner etc. I think intuitively that people who share strong values of being environmentally and socially responsible will often align themselves with others that share the same beliefs. If these beliefs are then shared amongst parties involved in a real estate transaction, all the better.
For myself as a Realtor, I try to promote all that I can about green building and am always trying to learn more and understand what truly constitutes green with respect to real estate. Our industry needs to follow suit with a lot of other industries that are now making strides with sustaining our environment. Example: If a client buys a home that has older wood floors that can be easily sanded and refinished, doing this is in my eyes is potentially more green than buying new Bamboo flooring. At first thought, many people respond that Bamboo is a rapidly renewable material and therefore promotes green development. Yes, but if this is shipped all the way across the world from China, the “greener decision” would probably be to just sand the old wood floors.
As a start for everyone, some of the most basic green actions you can take as a homeowner are using non-toxic paint, trying to used locally sourced materials if you are remodeling (hopefully recycled), adding insulation, installing quality good windows, and using energy efficient appliances and light bulbs.