Building new versus buying an existing structure has many advantages. Among the best is having a say in the materials, appliances and designs that will make your home greener and more energy efficient as well as a showplace for your unique style.
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The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice your tastes in order to make your new home green. Flooring and countertops are two great examples.
Consider a rapidly renewable resource like bamboo for your flooring instead of hardwoods. If you don’t like the colour and look of regular bamboo, you have a great alternative in woven bamboo. It looks more like a grained wood, can be stained in many interesting hues and is much more durable than traditional bamboo. It’s also very affordable compared to other flooring options.
Instead of non-renewable granite and stone for your countertops, consider a recycled glass surface such as Vetrazzo. This product contains flecks of recycled glass that come in a wide variety of colour choices, so you can jazz up your kitchen without depleting the earth. Currently it’s about the same price as granite but will likely cost less as it becomes more available.
Experienced builders can provide information on these and many other green construction materials.
Fill Your New Home With Energy-Saving Appliances
This is an area where you have many options around style and price.
Low-flow appliances like faucets, showerheads and toilets can cut your water usage and lower your bills. High-efficiency toilets must not exceed 5.5 litres of water per flush, so installing even one in your new home could save 30,000-40,000 litres of water in one year. These eco toilets can be more expensive, but you’ll save a bit if you buy last year’s model and it should pay for itself quickly in reduced water charges.
Appliance manufacturers offer many energy-saving models of washers, dryers, refrigerators, water heaters and more. The energy usage is often listed right on the machine so you can calculate your potential savings before you buy.
Although not technically an appliance, energy-efficient windows are green because they lower the usage of whatever energy powers your home. Look for models with very low thermal transmission (also known as U-factor) and solar heat gain ratings. You can also find windows made to work most efficiently in your particular climate. Local home builders can point you in the right direction.
Consider Green Landscaping
Buying new construction means you can also design the outside of your house for greener living. The right landscaping provides shade in the summer and insulation in the winter.
If you live where there are both cold and warm seasons, plant trees that lose their leaves on the west and south side of your structure. During the summer months these tress will keep you cooler and block infrared radiation. In the winter, more sunlight will reach you through the bare trees.
Focus on natural landscaping that thrives in your particular environment. Indigenous plants generally require less water and less maintenance, which will save you money and give you more time to enjoy your beautiful surroundings.
Whether you’re a first home buyer or finally moving into your dream home, new construction offers the opportunity to live well and still care for the earth.