Whether you are thinking in terms of a simple cottage or a luxury home plan, you should think seriously about how to design your home to make it green. Green construction is not only wise in terms of being environmentally-friendly and conserving scarce resources, it is also often the most economically and aesthetically sensible design solution. Let’s take a look at some things which go into making a green home, starting from the bottom and working upwards.
In green construction the foundations should be as well-insulated as the walls in the living spaces. This makes for more efficient conservation of home energy and increased comfort, especially if the basement is to be used as a bedroom or family room. Choices for flooring, besides natural wood, include laminates which mimic scarce hardwoods; linoleum which is a natural product and which is again becoming popular; and low volatile organic compound carpeting, which makes for better air quality indoors. Heating and cooling equipment should be selected for efficiency and economy. Tankless water heaters give on-demand hot water at a temperature which can be preset, rather than storing hot water, which greatly reduces standby energy losses. In areas with mild winters, heat pumps are an increasingly popular solution for both home heating and cooling and also water heating.
Architectural house plans should incorporate passive solar features such as large windows facing south, which help heat the house in winter as well as allowing increased natural light into the house by day. Windows which incorporate low-emittance glass coatings or gas fillers between layers help to keep heat inside the house in winter and outside the house in summer. Modern siding materials such as vinyl and fiber cement siding save money on both installation and maintenance, and are both water- and termite- resistant. By increasing the quantity and R-value of insulation, energy can be saved and heating and cooling expenses reduced. Sprayed foam insulation is an economical alternative to glass-fiber batting. By utilizing prefabricated components such as trusses and pre-hung windows and doors rather than cutting wood at the job site, money is saved and much waste is reduced. Also, factory-built components make the most efficient use of every piece of cut lumber. By using wood-composite or recycled plastic lumber materials in building, you can reduce dependence on chemically-treated lumber or durable hardwoods for porches and decks. Oriented stand board is a manufactured wood product which doesn’t require felling large trees, and which enhances the durability of walls and roofs.
Green custom house plans make use of the new energy-efficient refrigerators and freezers available today. These appliances have more powerful compressors, better insulation, more accurate temperature control, and better door seals than older designs. Front-loading washing machines use half the water and energy of top-loading models. Appliances rated Energy Star save on average 30% of the energy of standard models. New toilet designs have tanks and bowls which use less water, but are more efficient than the older models. Sink and shower faucet aerators give an even flow of water irregardless of the pressure, which reduces water use and the energy which heats it. Roof coverings such as fiber cement or steel are more durable than traditional materials, and reduce the maintenance over time. Light colors reflect heat, which reduces the cost of cooling in warmer climates.
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