10 Tips to help you design your home to be environmentally friendly and save energy.
- Design to maximize natural daylight and passive ventilation.
Daylight makes a dramatic difference, especially in our climate. In addition to making you feel better, daylighting can cut down on electric bills. Well-placed operable windows circulate fresh air throughout your home.
- Choose deconstruction and construction site recycling.
The demolition debris from a typical residential kitchen or bathroom remodel equals, by weight, four years of curbside recycling from an average household. Deconstruction is the selective hand-disassembly of building structures to maximize salvage for reuse. Minimize the impacts of your project, keep reusable and recyclable materials out of the landfill, and save costs, too.
Adding insulation and new, energy-efficient windows to an older home not only saves money in fuel costs, it improves comfort year-round.
- Buy energy-efficient kitchen appliances, furnaces and water heaters.
All appliances with an “Energy Star” rating are a good choice. You can claim Oregon tax credits on some appliances. Ask the retailer for details or visit the OR Dept. of Energy’s web site for a list of qualifying appliances.
- Choose water-efficient fixtures.
On average, toilet flushing, showers and faucets account for 60% of all indoor water use. Installing efficient toilets, faucet aerators and showerheads can save a typical household up to $200 annually in water and energy bills. Install 1.6-gallons per flush toilets, 1.5-gpm faucet aerators and 2.0-gpm showerheads with on/off toggles.
- Use low-VOC paint (50 grams/liter or less VOC content).
Insist on solvent free or low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint. Low and no VOCs will make painting a healthier and more enjoyable experience. If oil paints are being used, relocate during the paint job until your home is free of fumes.
- Choose formaldehyde-free products.
Many people don’t know that formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen, is commonly found in carpet, cabinetry, insulation and other building products. Consider installing a hard surface floor instead of carpet. If you do install carpeting, install a green rated carpet – check out www.carpet-rug.com for more information. Also make sure you choose formaldehyde-free cabinetry, and look for formaldehyde-free insulation.
- Buy used, recycled, certified or regraded wood products.
You can purchase used and regraded wood from the ReBuilding Center. Certified wood products are cut from sustainably managed forests, and affixed with a seal to help you identify them. They are available at an increasing number of stores.
- Harvest your rainwater for irrigation.
A well-designed rainwater harvesting system that captures rainwater from rooftops for use in irrigation.
- Landscape using native and drought-tolerant plants.
Native plants are naturally adapted to our environment, so they require minimal care and watering and provide valuable habitat for birds and wildlife.