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10 Things to Think About in Home Design to Make Your Property Greener
 

From solar power to energy efficient lighting, there are lots of ways you can make sure the home you live in is as green as possible when you are designing it from scratch. Whether you are creating a brand new structure or renovating an older building, there are design decisions both large and small that can contribute to how environmentally friendly your life in that home will be, and in this article we are going to look at just ten of the things you should be thinking about if a green home is your goal!

Lighting

Energy saving lighting has come a long way in the past decade or so, and LED lighting is now affordable and mainstream. LED isn't just exceptional at keeping energy usage as low as possible, whatever the indoor and outdoor lighting needs of your new property, but LED lights also last much longer than other types of bulb, which reduces waste and manufacturing. While it is not only possible, but easy, to convert an existing home to LED lighting, when you are designing a new property, you can also consider things like smart lighting. This involves having LEDs powered by internet of things (IoT) sensors to make sure that the lights are only on when you really need them. This makes things even more efficient, as well as adding convenience - for instance, by being able to control the lighting in different rooms remotely, or to turn lights on or off, or dim them, using voice commands.

LED should be your first choice for inside your home, but it is also excellent if you need things like floodlights outside for safety or security. LED security lights will use far less power than alternatives for the brightness you need for things like driveway lighting or security lights, and will also be more reliable. When you are planning the lighting and electronics for your new property, and budgeting for lights, make sure that you are choosing LED!

Insulation

In most places, you will need some solution for heating, and possibly also for cooling your indoor spaces in the summer months. Whatever type of heating and cooling solution you use will be automatically more energy efficient if your house has good insulation.

Insulation in houses can include the insulation in the roof, for instance loft insulation, and also in any wall cavities. It also means having windows that insulate the property well and don't let heat or cool air escape. A well-insulated property will be vastly less expensive to keep warm or cool, and that means that it will also be greener! Consider this when planning the types of materials you will be using for walls and roofing - as well as window design - if you are building an all new home. If you are doing extensive work on an existing property, then consider how more insulation could be added. If your new home is a condo, then you should still be considering insulation as a factor in your choice of windows and any outside doors.

Insulation may also be something you want to think about within rooms. If you want to save energy on heating, you may want to close off some rooms during the winter (for example guest rooms) and only heat the ones where you spend most of your time. If this is an approach you want to use, then having interior doors that offer good insulation will help you to save energy by keeping the heat or cooler air where you actually need it.

Water Conservation in Toilets

Another design choice that you can make to help the environment as well as save you money is to install toilets that use a dual flush system or similar, so that you have lighter or more powerful flushing available. This type of toilet design has become pretty much standard in newer bathrooms, and so you should be able to find plenty of great bathroom designs that include water saving flushes. You should also consider water conservation with the way you flush the toilet if you are having any kind of smart technology in your new bathroom, for instance automatic flushing. Consider how you can configure these technologies to use the greenest options as standard.

Low Flow Showers

As well as your toilets, make sure you install low flow shower heads for your showers. You can save a huge amount of water by doing this, and with modern designs, there is no reason to lose out on the pressure and cleaning abilities you want from your shower while still reducing how much water is used. Showers generally use less water than baths, so if you don't have a particular preference for bathing, you could also consider only having showers in your house, which saves space as well as making the choice to have a more water efficient shower instead of a bath a no-brainer!

Rainwater

Another consideration when it comes to water conservation is to install a tank to gather rainwater. This allows you to save up free, natural water during rainier seasons to use to water your garden when it is dry, helping you avoid needing to use large quantities of water to keep your lawn looking good and your plants thriving. Rainwater, or other recycled water (for instance water previously drained from your shower or washing machine, which is known as 'graywater') can be used for other purposes too, for instance for rinsing your car. However, the rules for collecting rainwater vary from state to state, so do check the regulations before buying any rainwater tanks or barrels.

Solar Panels

If your house has a roof (i.e. you are not doing work on a condo), or you have any outdoor space at all that receives direct sunlight, then you should definitely be considering talking to solar companies about how you might best equip your property with solar power. There are lots of different arrangements that can be used to supplement your energy supply with your own energy collected from your own solar installation, and some energy suppliers also have systems whereby they can buy back your unused solar energy to include in the supply of the grid. You can also consider having some appliances that are always powered by your solar energy source, so are wired to your solar system directly.

Different properties present different opportunities in terms of how solar power can be used, but a lot more houses could be taking advantage of solar energy than there currently are, and it would be a wasted opportunity not to consider where and how you could be using solar when you are in the process of designing a new house, or planning out a full renovation.

You may be surprised by where solar panels can be used and how much power they can collect, and of course, other than the cost of the solar hardware itself, you will be equipping your home with a sustainable source of power that you won't have to pay for (or which may even make you money, if you have room on your property for a large enough solar farm!). While you are still in the planning stages, take a look at Semper Solaris who are one of the best solar companies for creating home solar power solutions. You will want to ensure you work with a company that knows what they are doing so that your investment is worthwhile.

Where Could You Grow Your Own Food?

One interesting thing to think about when planning your new home is where you might be able to grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs. Growing your own produce can help you save money, but it is also far greener than buying them from shops where they will have needed to have been transported, even if they were grown using green methods. Even with a very small garden or no outdoor space at all, you may be able to find a place to grow produce, for example on balconies or in window boxes, or you may even like to design your own hydroponic farm, which can allow you to grow healthy, nutritious food even with limited space.

If you actually have quite a lot of outdoor space you could use to grow things, then you may well find that you really enjoy planning your garden and which crops you'll grow at which times, and you can even consider things like fruit trees which will grow to become attractive features, as well as yielding free, environmentally friendly food you can eat!

Talking to a professional while you are planning out your garden and researching the kind of food plants that grow well in the kind of soil you have in your region, can help you to design the most effective use of your outdoor space. You can also look into other ways that you can make your garden green, for example by planting things that are good for natural wildlife like birds and butterflies, and finding green ways to avoid garden pests.

Composting

Another thing you can do to make your garden, window boxes, or anywhere else you are growing plants in soil even greener is to include a composting unit in your design. Whether you just opt for a basic outdoor compost heap, or you go for a more technologically advanced composting solution, for instance those that use worms, you can reduce your household waste as well as saving money on buying compost for your garden in this way. Almost all biodegradable organic waste can be composted, including things like vegetable peeling, food leftovers, and even some kinds of pet products, and it is easy to get into the habit of putting these types of waste into your composting solution rather than throwing them away.

Use Local Sustainable Building Materials

Whether you are building the whole house or just changing parts of an existing structure, being careful about the materials you choose can greatly affect how green your project will be. Materials like wood from sustainable forests can allow you to ensure that you are not harming the environment while you are building, and when you use things from local sources, you are reducing the carbon footprint of your new house by a lot, because transporting building resources is not very green at all! Doing some research while you are designing your home or renovations will allow you to find what types of materials there are from sources local to you, and enable you to find environmentally friendly materials. Of course, you may not be able to get everything you need in this way, but wherever you can, avoid using transported goods - particularly if they have come from very far away (for instance when shipped from other countries).

Consider Reclaimed and Recycled Materials

Another thing to think about when choosing materials is whether you can use things reclaimed from other properties. Some people really like using reclaimed materials and items to give a home an interesting period look, but you can even consider it for less visible elements of your home just as a greener alternative. This is also something to think about when furnishing your house, or looking for things like kitchen work surfaces and bathroom suites. Whether you use new or reclaimed items, try and use things that are made from recycled materials that can be recycled again in the future wherever you possibly can.

As you can see, there are all kinds of different ways you can plan to make your house greener, both in terms of the building project itself, and the lifestyle you will have once you are living in the property. Depending on where you live and what is available, you can potentially save a lot of money by doing these things, as well as knowing that you have been as environmentally conscious as you could have been in the design of your dream home!

Do as much research as you can on ways that people in your area have found green solutions, and talk to professional experts where you need to. This will help you to create a home that is stylish, convenient to live in, and which doesn't have a negative impact on the environment.

 

 
 
 
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