People are more environmentally conscious in today’s modern world. People are starting to understand the effect their carbon footprints have on the planet. The way we consume has an environmental cost which is why we need to use products that reduce environmental waste. One of the best ways to decrease our energy usage is to construct homes with the environment in mind. Sustainable housing is a popular option for homeowners and will reduce energy costs. Building a sustainable home is all about installing the right fixtures throughout your house. This means using energy-saving materials in the walls, in the plumbing, and installing stylish and energy-efficient lights and windows. Here are a few things you can do to create a sustainable and stylish home.
Create a space for natural light
Reducing your electric bill is a critical step in building a sustainable home. A great way to reduce your electricity consumption is to build a home that efficiently uses natural light. Arizona gets sunshine year round so developing a home that efficiently uses natural light is simple. Design your home with skylights, picture windows, and bay windows. These windows allow more natural light which means you are more likely to leave the lights off. However, the materials your windows are made of are a big part of making them sustainable.
Wayne Funk Owner of Mesa home builder Bellago Homes said glass type is one of the main factors in building a home that is cozy and energy efficient.
“The windows you install should be low e glass windows with a U factor that reflects heat and light.”
The type of window frame you use also matters. Funk said window frames made from vinyl, resin, or wood-clad composite windows are the best option for environmentally conscious homeowners.
“Wood and vinyl windows are more insulated and durable because their color does not wash away after long exposure to the environment,” Funk said.
Aluminum windows are most commonly used but these are not good products for building a sustainable home. This is because the aluminum does not provide a lot of insulation.
Brian Laubenthal is the Principal of Aline Architecture Concepts, an architecture firm in Scottsdale that works with homeowners to build sustainable residencies. He said one way to add more natural light to a home is to install solar tubes.
Solar tubes are metallic tubes that channels sunlight through a clear covering on the roof.
“Solar tubes are ideal because you can channel them to areas of your home that don’t normally get natural light,” Laubenthal said. “They are also aesthetically pleasing because they can look like lighting fixtures.”
Laubenthal went on to say that any opportunity to add more natural lighting is going to be beneficial to you and your home environment.
“Natural light creates a more enjoyable and healthier space and it will bring down the electricity costs.” Laubenthal said. “It is a great way to create a more sustainable home.”
Install spray foam insulation
Home insulation is an important thing to consider when building a sustainable home. A home that is not insulated well means your HVAC system must work harder to maintain your home’s temperature.
Funk said Spray Foam is a superior insulation for a sustainable home.
“You want to use SPF foam to insulate your home since it is durable and maintains the temperature of the home because it creates an airtight seal,” Funk said. “There isn’t a more sustainable option.”
Spray foam will last forever if it is applied properly. It also requires less maintenance and is sustainable due to the fact you don’t have to waste materials fixing it.
Smart lighting and smart thermostats reduce energy costs
Smart tech is a great modern tool to create a sustainable home.
Smart lighting and smart thermostats will reduce your energy costs long term and you should install the technology in your home.
Adolfo Dolan, a Project Engineer at Mesa smart tech installer Automated Environments said smart lighting will help you limit your energy waste.
“You can program a smart lighting system to turn off whenever you want and you can track your energy usage when you are using it,” Dolan said. “You can turn off your lights wherever you are from you phone and schedule it to turn on when you get home. It is a no brainer if you want to conserve energy.”
The Environmental Protection Agency states that programmable thermostats can save you an average of $180 per year and it is recommended you install the tech. Smart thermostats are programmed to heat and cool the house at different times during the day or night. You can also set the thermostat to turn off when you leave and turn on before you get back home.
“The benefit of a programmable thermostats is the ability to schedule when you heat and cool your house,” Dolan said. “Having to keep your HVAC on all day is a waste and smart thermostats prevent you from doing that.”
Smart thermostats only allow you to control when you heat or cool your house it will not make your HVAC system run more efficiently. You will have to install an energy-efficient HVAC system to save energy on that front.
The right plumbing fixture and water heater conserves water
Arizonans understand the water bill is a huge housing expense. A sustainable homes means a home that saves water so install the right plumbing fixtures.
A tankless water heater is a great investment for an sustainable home owner. It will initially cost you more money, but will save money overtime. According to energy.gov, tankless water heaters are 34 percent more efficient than tank water heaters.
Owner of Amigo Rooter & Plumbing Nelson Salas recommends tankless water heaters because they are more durable and don’t waste water.
“A tanked water heater means you have gallons of water wasting away in a tank,” Salas said. “A tankless water heater means you conserver more energy since you don’t need to heat up your tank every time you need hot water.
Water saving toilets, faucets, and showerheads are also must install fixtures to conserve water.
“A sustainable home is not sustainable if you waste water,” Salas said. “These fixtures help you conserve more water.”
The health of our environment is incredibly important and one of the best ways we can do our part is to ensure we build our homes with our ecosystem in mind. From the insulation, to the plumbing to the windows, install fixtures that save energy.
Max Lancaster is a freelance writer living in Tempe.