When we use the words “Green Home” what do we mean exactly? There is no official definition for a green home. There is no green home administration overseeing green home requisites. So how can we be certain the home we purchase is sustainable, energy and resource efficient, and going to protect the health of those who reside?
Those in the market for a green home are interested in improving their quality of life, adding value to their home, avoiding waste, and conserving resources. They are conscientious of their family’s health as well as the environment and they are willing to go above and beyond for these priorities, to consider hundreds of options in order to make their home green. And there truly are hundreds upon hundreds of options these days. With more and more eco-friendly practices being used to build new homes and so many variables to consider a “green home” can be as green as you want it to be.
Related: What is Green Building?
We narrowed the options down in our Green Home Buying Checklist.
Green Eye for the Eco-Friendly Guy (and Gal)
#1: Location, Location, Location!
Surprisingly, location is the number one sustainable decision you can make when searching for your “green home”. A standard home built in a dense, walk-friendly neighborhood with access to public transit is going to be “greener” than any other home without those benefits. When looking with a green eye, look to see what public transportation options are nearby, when low traffic times are if any, and whether or not there are parks and other open spaces within walking distance. Measure how far you have to travel to get to places you frequent often such as the grocery store, relatives’ houses, the gas station, shopping centers, and the post office. How far would your commute to work be? All this will determine how much gas you use every month.
In addition, ask around about the government’s plans for the neighborhood’s future. It might be the perfect location now, but in ten years, will there be a highway in your backyard? Are there risks such as floods or fire? Are businesses planning on building in the area? Are you okay with that? These are questions you need to ask, questions that will help secure the value and “greenness” of your home 5, 10, 20 years down the road.
#2 Air and Ventilation:
When it comes to energy efficiency, it is extremely important to have excellent air sealing throughout your home. Insulation is useless if you can’t control the movement of air in and out of your home. And where there is air, there is water. Proper air sealing can save you many problems in dealing with moisture. So caulk, glue, tape, and seal away! Make certain the builders didn’t take shortcuts, or if they did, ask yourself, are you willing to make the necessary repairs to ensure your home is a tight air-sealed container?
Along with proper air sealing, comes proper ventilation. Look for good ventilation systems that keep the air fresh inside the home without sacrificing conditioning. Bill Beazley Green Advantage Homes feature air conditioner compressors with a SEER rating of 13. This ventilation system is efficient at exchanging the conditioning of your outgoing air with the unconditioned air coming in. It also provides filtration to increase air quality. Paired with their programmable thermostat, a homeowner is looking at saving 12-15% every month as well as thousands of green house gases from entering the atmosphere.
#3 Water Conservation:
Water conservation is one of the key elements of a green home, and fortunately it is one of the easiest to address. Look to see if there is a system for catching rainwater such as exterior rain barrels to reduce overall usage when landscaping. Low flow fixtures and low-pressure faucets can also help reduce water usage. Bill Beazley Green Advantage Homes feature water conservation plumbing faucets and showerheads as well as low flush toilets. And remember what you save in water usage, you also save in water heating.
#4 Heating and Insulation:
Effective energy efficient systems and quality construction can keep you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer as well as help you lower utility and maintenance bills. We have already addressed the importance of sealing up a house to prevent the infiltration of air, and now we need to look for homes with proper insulation to prevent thermal bridging. Bill Beazley Green Advantage homes use R-30 insulation in both flat and angled ceilings as well as exterior doors and a sealed ductwork system with a minimum of R-8 insulation. In addition, every house receives a Duct Blast and a Blower Door test to ensure there is no leakage of energy. Insulation throughout the house creates an interior environment that is easier to condition and to keep that way. This means reduced HVAC and other savings along with that decrease in ongoing energy use.
With the reduction in HVAC energy use, a green home should also reduce the energy from water heating. Green Advantage Homes feature Green Choice gas burners on the water heaters, which produce 33 percent lower nitrogen oxide emissions than standard burners. These mechanics use far less energy than a standard house and provide a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment.
#5 Windows and Illumination:
With your green eye, look for homes with a lot of natural light in the day and enough windows to allow the sun to warm the interior in the winter. Skylights are great for this. However, windows make up part of the thermal envelope that is your home, and it’s important these windows don’t allow heat to escape either. The best windows offer great air tightness and high insulation values. Windows can even be designed to allow for additional solar heat gain during cold months. Bill Beazley Green Advantage Homes for example offer Energy Star Rated Low-E double glazed vinyl windows with a U-value of .37 and a solar heat gain coefficient of .34.
#6 Final Touches to your Green Creation
Now that you have kept a green eye out for the most important key features of “green home” you can start looking to add those green finishing touches like low VOC paints and energy efficient appliances. Use paints, finishes and materials that don’t excrete harmful chemicals into the air of the home such as Bill Beazley’s Green Advantage low VOC paints. Then, outfit your home with ENERGY STAR appliances. If the home comes with a dishwasher, make sure it uses 6 gallons or less per wash and if there are laundry machines, front-loading ones are much more efficient. Smaller appliances such as refrigerators can save you energy as well as force you to shop for fresh food. Whenever you can, try recycling materials or finding ways of utilizing natural resources.
A “Green Home” is an investment, simple improvements here and there that can make a big difference for your bank account and your health. Whether you choose one thing off our checklist or all six, you are improving the value of your home, the environment, and the quality of life for your family.
Discover why Bill Beazley Homes is leading the way for green building in Augusta, GA, or contact us for more information on how you can build your very own Green Home from the ground up.
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