Have you gone green? The eco-friendly craze of the last few years seems to be here to stay, and these days it’s easier than ever to live sustainably.
If you’re thinking of building a new custom home in the Hendersonville or Nashville area, talk to Arthur Rutenberg Homes about incorporating green techniques in your home. For a truly sustainable home, you’ll want to include everything from solar panels on the roof and well-insulated windows and doors (and lots of them to let in natural light), to energy efficient appliances, fixtures, and lighting, to eco-friendly or recycled materials in your carpet, wood, tile, and even paint.
But going green doesn’t stop after your custom home builders finish and you move in. Read on for ten ideas for going green as you settle into your new custom home.
1. Keep an eye on your fridge: Even a new, energy-efficient refrigerator is eventually going to age and get less efficient. You’ll need to keep an eye on both the seal and the temperature. The fridge should be between 37 and 40 degrees, and the freezer should be between zero and five. Even a few degrees colder on either one can make your energy bills run as much as 25 percent higher. You can also check the rubber gasket on the doors of your fridge by slipping a piece of paper in between the door and the rest of the appliance. If there’s no friction, the gasket needs to be replaced to ensure the fridge is properly insulated.
2. Don’t wash dishes by hand: We’re guessing you want a dishwasher in your custom home. Make sure you’re using it! Running a full load through the dishwasher is much more efficient on water and electricity than doing the same number of dishes by hand.
3. Check all of your light bulbs: As of January 2014, standard incandescent light bulbs are no longer on the market. If you still have some in lamps and other fixtures around your house, go ahead and replace them with the compact fluorescent type now on the market. They’re a little pricier up front, sure, but they’ll last much longer and save you a good chunk on your electric bill.
4. Use water wisely: Instead of buying packs of disposable water bottles, or even large jugs of distilled water, get reusable bottles and a filter and use tap water. Run loads of laundry on cold instead of hot to save energy. Collect rainwater and use it to water your garden and house plants.
5. Think about what you can turn off: Try to leave lights off as long as possible. If you’ve put lots of windows in your custom home, you can take advantage of natural light for a long while each day. When you do turn on lights, make sure you turn them off when you leave a room. Also, shut down your computer completely each night, and unplug any chargers or power strips that aren’t in use.
6. Check your bathroom: First, turn your water heater temperature down, then make sure when you take a shower you keep the water hot but not scalding. Also, you can check the output of your shower head by putting a gallon bucket under it. If it fills up in less than 20 seconds, it’s using too much water and you can replace it with a more efficient one that only sprays 1.5 gallons per minute. Afraid a faucet or toilet is leaking? Check the toilet by putting food coloring in the tank. If it leaks into the bowl, you need to replace the flapper. If your sink is linking, all it needs is a new, tight washer to prevent drips and save you thousands over the years.
7. Stay warmer (or cooler) naturally: Use your beautiful windows to your advantage. Besides natural light, strategically placed windows can also dramatically lower your heating bill. In the winter, turn down the thermostat and let the sun come in to help keep the house warmer. If you’ve still got a chill, rather than bumping the temperature way up, put on a sweater and drape yourself in a blanket. If you’ve got a fireplace, put it to good use by building a fire!
8. Keep your floors cleaner: If you’re still in the design process of building your custom home, consider including a mud room. If you’ve already moved in, put a long mat in at the entryway so people can wipe their feet well before coming in, or institute a no-shoes policy inside. That cuts down on the risk of germs being tracked into the house, so you won’t have to clean with harsh chemicals as often.
9. Reduce, reuse, and recycle: This has been a common mantra among eco-friendly advocates for years, but it’s no less valuable today. One of the best things you can do is reduce the amount of paper and plastic products you use, reuse items as much as possible, and recycle whatever paper, plastic, or glass items you do use. Collect reusable bags to take grocery shopping, use cloth instead of paper towels for cleaning and napkins, and set up a recycling station somewhere in the house to make it easy to separate recyclable materials.
10. Start a garden: One of the most eco-friendly things you can do is to grow your own food and herbs. If you’ve got kids, this is a great activity to enjoy with them. You can plant all kinds of vegetables, fruits, and herbs right in your yard, and enjoy the fruitage of your labor all year! You can even make compost with organic waste to fertilize your home garden.
Going green is an intuitive process that has to be fully integrated through your home to really work. Start by talking to Arthur Rutenberg Homes about sustainable building practices; then, after you move in, start incorporating some of these ideas throughout your homes to live green for years to come.