If you are about to buy or build a house make sure it is environmentally sound. It will make a difference to you. You will be much more comfortable in a house that is working to help the environment rather than being against it. It can be cooler in summer and warmer in winter without any additional use of electricity.
If time allows go to look at the house you are about to spend hard earned money on at the worst possible time. Go on a hot and windy day or when it is freezing cold. Go in the rain when the sky is dark or in the late afternoon. Don’t let yourself be seduced by a spring day or lovely autumn weather that will make the house seem perfect. It might not be on the wrong day. See past the flowers and the smell of coffee if the house is being tarted up to receive you by an estate agent. Check which way it is facing, where the windows are and smell the drains.
If you are renovating an existing house you probably already know its faults. Renovating the right way may fix some of them. If you are planning to build a house you can make a perfect plan on the drawing board and stick to it. Creating an environmentally friendly house is getting easier. Councils are being forced to look at buildings in a different way.
Begin by making a list of all the things you would like to have in your home such as how many rooms. Bedrooms, living spaces, at-home offices, kitchens, bathrooms, verandahs and patios. There could be more than one kitchen if you include an outside kitchen/ barbecue. Then add all the subsidiary things you want such as picture windows, heated floors, pantries, built in wardrobes and book cases etc. When you are sure that you have included everything you want then show it to a builder who understands and has already built eco-housing.
You can get a list of such people from the Housing Industry Association. A suitable builder will talk you through your ideas and tell you if they are possible before anyone sits down to make a plan.
You may be suggesting a very expensive house but good design is not expensive if simple construction is understood and carried out. Any extra expenditure on design features and appliances will be quickly repaid by the saving in energy bills and maintenance. Australian families spend 40% of energy costs on heating and cooling their houses. If all this is part of the house it just contributes comfort without fuss as a background accessory to the life of the house.
To some people a house is only four walls and a roof. It uses x amount of energy and emits x amount of waste over its lifetime.
But a house can be looked at as a living organism. Water can be accessed from the sky to a tank big enough to service the whole house. Proper insulation of ceilings, walls and floors will help produce an even temperature throughout the year. Strategic vents can extract heat by wind power. Australia has enough sunshine to provide solar power to the house with enough left over to feed back into the system ina sort of banking system. Waste water can be recycled for the gardens. Cross ventilation was once considered imperitive for Australian houses but now many large houses are being built on American and English patterns that have no cross ventilation. Bring it back so that in summer your house catches every breeze that blows. Site your house to face north with wide eaves or covered verandahs that will let the sunshine in when the sun is low in winter and exclude it in the summer.
It is completely possible to live in eco housing that will give you year round comfort and the cheapest energy bills in your street and suburb. Make your garden part of the scheme. Plant wind breaks where necessary. Grow your own vegetables and plant deciduous trees for shade in summer and sunshine through the bare boughs of winter. Fruit trees for instance. It is all simple and possible.
Have you ever wondered what makes real estate properties ‘green’ or ‘eco friendly’? Hopefully I can help you learn how to identify properties that meet some or all of these green qualifications in both construction and operation. Whether you are looking to buy green, or you want to ‘green’ your present home in order to sell it I hope to help you in your endeavor, and especially if you are simply looking to implement easy green features and habits, creating a green home and a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
I definitely know there are countless things I could add to my list here, but for now I want to merely create the mood of what a green home would look like. One thing’s for sure, no matter how green you go, make sure it’s done in a light, joyful way that doesn’t impose on others. We are where we are at any given time in our lives, and there will always be someone greener than us! Green pride, should always be personal.
These green lifestyle choices not only enhance our health, but also our finances! Yeah green, puts green in your pocket!
So what features might make a property green or eco-friendly…
Usually homes are demolished, but do you know they can be deconstructed instead? Antique stores have known for centuries the brilliance of reclaimed and reuse of materials. Certainly a great percentage of a homes materials can come from a pre-used source. I know of one yoga studio that has the most gorgeous wood floors reclaimed from an old Bank of America historic building that was being refurbished. And it was free! Only the cost of removal! What a conversation piece! Just as relevant are materials derived from easily renewable sources, bamboo versus ancient oak trees.
The paint we use, low or zero VOC paint. You know that ‘new home smell’ we all love, usually from a fresh coat of paint? Well that’s the smell of your lungs being poisoned! There are many sources of green power or at least eco choices, such as solar panels for electricity, natural day lighting via skylights and low voltage lighting for the evening. Site orientation makes such a difference, imagine orienting the home toward the sun in colder climates and alternatively catching cool breezes in warmer climates? Not only that but using landscaping to help. Deciduous trees to shade windows in the summer, yet let in warm sun in the winter. Green comes in many shades! Overall, we should seek durable, healthy, sustain-ably sourced ‘green’ building materials, ones that are non-toxic thus helping improve indoor air quality.
In the garden permeable paving helps guide ‘fresh’ water to underground tables rather than run off via drain pipes to the salt water ocean. The use of native, zero or low water use gardens not only replace a strange obsession with antiquated English grass lawns but also encourage native birds and butterflies into your garden! Green landscaping can create a truly magical garden.
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.