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Develop a Green Home Plan
If you're serious about eco-friendly living, consider developing a green home plan. Green home design is among the fastest-growing fields in urban planning and architecture, and every year more innovative products and home plans enter the market. Green home design starts from the ground up, beginning with selecting an optimal site for your eco-friendly home. A comprehensive green home plan also incorporates sustainable building materials, eco-friendly interior décor and energy-efficient appliances.
A green home plan begins with location
If you're able to green your home from scratch, start by positioning your house where it will benefit most from the sun. Most green home design experts suggest choosing a north-south orientation, with south-facing windows that can capture the sunlight in order to conserve heat -- and, if you have solar panels, trap more energy.
Take your climate into consideration. If you live in a warm region, balance your solar energy requirements with natural shade in order to cut down on your cooling needs. Shading your windows with pergolas or other types of overhangs can create shade while still allowing sun to hit solar panels positioned on the roof.
Incorporate sustainable materials
Wherever possible in your eco-friendly home, make use of recycled or low-impact materials. Instead of traditional hardwood floors, consider using bamboo or rattan, which are considered more sustainable. Cork, recycled glass, recycled metal, stone, adobe and even straw bales are other examples. You can even replace inorganic fiberglass insulation with insulation made from recycled denim.
Plan for efficiency with energy and water use
There are many options these days for energy effecient home heating and cooling, as well as ways to reduce water use. There are geothermal-based heating systems that use the earth's natural heat to regulate the temperature in your home. There are also solar panels, which have become more efficient in recent years, and tankless water heaters that conserve energy by only heating water as you use it.
Low-flow toilets and water-saving showerheads are other important components of a green home plan. Look for kitchen appliances and laundry machines that are certified as energy-efficient. Replace conventional lightbulbs with energy-saving models, which, according to the Energy Saving Trust, a UK-based organization focused on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, can last up to 10 times longer.
When it comes to landscaping, think native. Planting species that naturally occur in the area makes for more efficient gardening and can also avoid the ecosystem imbalance that comes from introducing foreign species. Select a landscape design that requires little watering. If you live in a dry climate, this might mean forgoing a grassy lawn for an eco-friendly design that incorporates native desert plants and rocky areas.