If you are building a new home, about to remodel your old home, or if you just want to add some green improvements to your house, there are a lot of environmentally friendly options out there that you may not know about. Some of them may cost a bit more upfront to install, but will save you much more money in the long run.
Skylights have been in use for a long time, but the biggest drawback has always been the lack of light they provide. Fortunately there are new innovations into what they are calling “daylighting”. These new fixtures are essentially glass-ended tubes much like giant telescopes. They funnel the sunlight down through the tube and out through the glass in such a way that it brightly lights the entire room just like an electric fixture. For lighting at night, the tubes also contain an electric fixture, which can be fitted with the compact fluorescent bulbs for maximum efficiency.
Flooring has long been a source of pollution, but there are many ways to reduce or even eliminate the carbon impact of installing a new floor. There are many, many options on the market now, including reclaimed flooring recycled from other homes, woods harvested using sustainable methods, VOC (volatile organic compound) free stone flooring with the noise dampening of carpet, carpets made from recycled fibers, and even woven bamboo that looks like wood, but is more durable than some hardwoods. Pieces that snap together instead of requiring glue and which are manufactured without using glue help these options have the lowest impact.
Before you had ever heard of global warming, you probably knew that home insulation was both necessary for energy efficiency and terrible for the environment. Insulation remains a great way to cut down on energy usage, but is no longer the polluting element it once was. There are some really great choices out there now, including one made from a soy-based oil (instead of petroleum) and another made from recycled denim.
Some other ideas to consider are VOC free paints and organic paint alternatives, recycled glass countertops, fixtures and furniture made from reclaimed items, and of course, alternative sources of power like wind turbines and solar panels. Outside, in addition to xenoscaping, one way to conserve water without sacrificing a beautiful lawn is to use an artificial grass. While “fake grass” may seem an odd choice for the environment, when you choose one that is lead free, permeable so that rain can pass through it and made of recycled materials, you are reducing the amount of water you’ll need for lawn maintenance, the amount of gas or electricity you’ll need for a mower and the time and energy it takes to keep a lawn looking good when you try to do it the non-polluting way.