Monday, October 20, 2008

What Makes a Home Green?

I apologize for not posting in so long; I've just been very busy lately and haven't had the time, but I'm back now. Today, I'm talking about what makes a home green? You hear this term all the time now and with global warming and all that, it's important that people become more knowledgeable about taking care of the environment and conserving energy. Here's a quick look at what defines a home as "GREEN."

Government statistics tell us that American houses waste more than $300 billion annually due to inefficient energy use. Both residential and commercial buildings have a huge impact on the environment. In fact, in the U.S. they account for greater than 1/3 of the nation's total energy use, 68 % of electricity consumption, 38 % of carbon dioxide emissions and 12 % of water use. It is important that people start making their homes more green and less wasteful; it's better for both the environment and our wallets.

Here's what you need to make your home green:

1. Energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, lighting and appliances
*You should look for products that have earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star program label
*Everything from appliances and lighting to complete homes can be given this label if they met certain requirements
**For a home to qualify, it must 15 percent or greater more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code and its features must be at least 20 to 30 % more efficient than standard homes.

2. New home construction: preserve the natural environment as much as possible, reduce erosion and protect trees, use recyclable and renewable materials, practice waste reduction techniques

3. Current homeowners can do many things to make their home more green:
*Caulk and weather-strip windows
*Replace light bulbs with long-lasting energy-efficient ones
*Insulate their attic
*Install a programmable thermostat
*Use low-emission carpets, stains and paints
*Capture rainwater in holding tanks
*Install solar panels
*Use smart irrigation systems
*Use reclaimed wood on countertops and other furniture

People who want to sell their home and make it more attractive to buyers who want to "Go Green" can get an energy audit performed on their home. The audit will show a home's energy usage and will give recommendations to the homeowner for making their home more environmentally-friendly. This can be a major selling point if the home gets a good score or if the homeowners make the changes to make it more "green."

For more information on making your home more environmentally-friendly, please check out U.S Green Building Council, Energy Star, Home Energy Rating System and the Environmental Protection Agency.

*This information was obtained from the September/October issue of Georgia Realtor magazine.

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