Designing sustainable and green spaces is almost required these days. For those who are less informed on living green, here are some easy tips to help you do your part in saving the earth and saving yourself some green while you're at it.
Check your insulations resistance to excaping heat, called the R-value, to determine where you can use extra insulation. Insulating your attic can help hold heat in during the winter and keep heat out during the summer. Use Ultratouch insulation which is made of recycled blue jeans to go the extra mile. You could also use cellulose, made of newspaper, but be sure no one in your house is allergic to the off-gassing of the old ink. Re-insulating does require some time, but you will notice a difference in your utilitiy bills. Sometimes you may qualify for a tax credit, so definitely do your homework.
Energy Star appliances are all over the market right now and typically not at a higher cost than other appliances. Purchasing an Energy Star appliance can save you 30 percent of your appliance utility bill.
If you are building a new home, think first about the option to remodel. Choosing to remodel a pre-existing house could save money, use fewer materials, and disturb less land. If you have decided that the best thing for you is to build new, get to know your land prior to building. Choose your land only after you have invested time into these questions: can you have a garden or is there a close farmers market? Can your children walk or bike to school? Is there public transit close? Are you prepared to live off a grid (land utilities)? Can you get your building supplies from close mills and manufacturers? Do you have solar options? (When building new, think about how your house will sit on the property. Building your house so that the length of the house is on an east/west axis will allow for solar panels along the south edge. Also consider how close the next house is because it may limit your solar use.) How much space do you really need to live, heat, cool, and light? Can you use an architect or construction manager who knows green design?
A great way to reduce the amount of trash you have is to compost. Invest in a good composter where you can get rid of your scraps and create rich potting soil for your garden. Click here to see a video about a couple in Oregon that went trash-free for a year.
While many people are just now switching to compact fluorescent bulbs, be ahead of the curve and switch to LED's. LED's have been used in TV's, telephones, and more since 1962. More recently, architects and designers have replaced standard fluorescent tubes with LED's. While they cost nearly double upfront, they are well worth it since it could reduce your carbon footprint by 68 percent. They are also non-toxic.
These are just a few ideas to consider. Since sustainability is the future, I'm sure to post much more in the Green series.
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