VIBE Guide: Sustainability In Your Home
Posted by VIBE Realty on Friday, May 29th, 2020 at 10:35am.
With Earth Day not far behind us, the buzz word is still going strong: sustainability. It's a movement that is becoming more accessible for us to achieve in different areas of our lives, and being in real estate, sustainability in the home is a topic we'd like to shed light on.
As a homeowner, you have options to make environmentally-conscious choices that not only make a contribution to improving the environment, but also can play a role in lowering the cost of running your home. Say what?! Yes, you can actually save money over time by making a few sustainable changes that can play into saving energy, water, and maintenance on systems and appliances. Here are some ways you can create a healthier environment for yourself and your family by bringing eco-friendly practices into your very own household.
We'll provide some great ways that you can incorporate sustainable practices into your home below, but before embarking on home energy improvements, we recommend first having a home energy audit done. This is an assessment of how your house is functioning which can help you decide what needs fixing, what needs upgrading, and what needs replacement. The audit will identify some simple low-cost measures you can take, and it will determine more expensive but cost-effective measures. According to Minnesota.gov, an advanced energy assessment should include:
- A review of energy bills to help assess home performance and identify savings opportunities:
- A blower-door test to determine air leakage.
- Infrared scans to detect insulation levels and sources of air leaks.
- Efficiency and safety testing of combustion appliances.
- A thorough visual inspection for attic, wall, crawlspace, foundation, basement, window, door and roof problems.
Solar Power Systems
Let's talk energy. To be a sustainable home, it must be energy efficient. This is where high-performance design comes in, and where the heating, cooling, and water delivery systems meet rigorous criteria. This approach in building can slash the energy consumption up to a whopping 90% versus conventionally-built houses. However, we know that most homes are conventionally built in the Twin Cities. This is where solar power systems can come in. Solar power harnesses the power of the sun to produce the electricity needed for your home. Similarly, solar hot water systems also utilize energy from the sun to heat the water and provide energy for heating your home. You can install a solar water heater which is often pretty cost-effective, even in cloudy areas.
Save by installing solar panels: Solar panels cost money upfront, but will save you money in the long term. According to energysage.com, the average home can save between $10,000 and $30,000 over the lifetime of your solar panel system. Pretty significant, huh? Learn more about savings here.
Compost, you’ve heard of it by now, right? Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Composting provides an environmentally sound method of recycling food (and even yard waste) and allows us to keep the materials from filling up our landfills. If you’re thinking about composting indoors, it’s super easy. First, you need a properly designed vessel (click here more details on this.) Once you have that, you can throw food scraps away with the exception of bones, meats and oily fats. Discard the compost with curbside pickup, or you can use the compost for your garden. It's a nutrient-rich food product and will help improve soil structure, maintain moisture levels, and keep your soil's pH balance in check.
Save by composting: Composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in three months. Crazy, right?
Water is a luxury, no? Why not use what mother earth provides us. Rainwater collection is one of the simplest and most energy efficient ways of saving water. Believe it or not, your home can use filtered rainwater to flush toilets, wash clothes, and clean the car. Rainwater collectors capture and store large quantities of rainwater and there are different kinds of systems you can install. Here is more information from energy.gov on how you can implement this within your home.
Save by collecting rainwater: Your household can expect to save up to 50% of your water consumption by installing a rainwater harvesting system.
Quick Water + Energy Savings
- Install low-flow shower heads. With less water to heat, you’ll save water and energy.
- Install low-flush toilets and drop from six gallons per flush to one and a half. It saves money as well as water.
- Use compact fluorescents, which screw into ordinary incandescent light-bulb sockets but use far less electricity. Add motion-sensing switches to turn them off when the room’s empty.
- Buy efficient appliances with smarter designs, like front-loading washers (they use half the water and detergent of top-loading washers). Just check the efficiency ratings on them because you could save up to 13% of your household energy use.
- And don't forget the obvious: recycle, recycle, recycle!
Do you have more tips? We'd love to hear them! Comment your suggestions below and we'll share them.