In nearly 30 years of home building in the Hendersonville area, the Ernst brothers of Arthur Rutenberg Homes have built homes fitting a variety of specifications and budgets. They’ve seen trends come and go, but one that shows no signs of going anywhere is that of building green.
Today, there are more sustainable products on the market than ever before. Public and private builders alike are making constant use of these products. Yet, there remains a stigma that it’s more expensive to build sustainably, so some people look for ways around it.
The truth is, thoughtful use of green building materials, in a holistic way around your home, won’t cost you much, if any, more than traditional materials would. Additionally, you’ll end up saving enough money on utility costs that any up-front expense will be more than worthwhile.
Remember, though, that simply using Energy Star compliant appliances or a low-flow toilet isn’t the way to make your home truly energy-efficient and sustainable. When you’re building your home, you must pick materials that complement each other and ensure the efficiency flows through your home.
For one thing, you can start with energy-efficient windows and fiberglass doors to help regulate the temperature inside your home to save on heating and cooling costs. However, to make these materials truly worth your while, you’ll also want to make sure the spaces around windows and doors are properly sealed, that the home is fully insulated, and that you choose a high-rated Energy Star HVAC system. You can also consider adding a few skylights to help warm the house, and fans to help cool it. Also think about where on your lot you want to build; an east-west facing home will stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer, without as much effort. Choose light-colored roof shingles to reflect heat, and even consider adding solar panels to help you power your home.
New plumbing fixtures like low-flow toilets, high-efficiency faucets and aerators, and green shower heads can keep you from wasting as much as 30,000 gallons of water every year. Building your home on a bit of a rise will help water drain more easily. For lights, pick compact fluorescent and LED lights to use up to 75 percent less power.
There are even ways to be sustainable and efficient when it comes to picking the design elements of your home. You can use renewable materials like wood flooring, carpet made from recycled materials, and even repurposed or reused fixtures, doors, and more; you might even find some really unique features to put in your home this way. Don’t forget to pick sealants, paints, coatings, and other materials that have low levels of VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, so they don’t cause any environmental damage.
Finally, if you’re planning on building green, there might be added financial benefit in it for you. Check with the Environmental Protection Agency to find out if you’re eligible for any national or state tax breaks for using energy efficient building materials.