People around the world are changing their lifestyle to live more environmentally friendly lives. From increased recycling efforts to buying clothes second-hand, people are being more conscious about the size of their carbon footprint and are actively working to lessen their impact on the environment. One of the most popular and effective ways to live a greener life is to live in an eco-friendly home. Green homes can either be built from the ground up or you can make an existing home more environmentally friendly. Below are just a few ways you can create a custom green home or turn your current home into an environmentally-friendly residence.
Want to shrink your carbon footprint and live a greener life? Here are a few ways you can create a custom green home or turn your current home into an environmentally-friendly residence.
Solar energy is no longer a new invention, and the technology has advanced significantly since it first gained popularity. Solar panels made in 2020 are far more efficient and less expensive than older panels meaning there has never been a better time to add solar panels to your home.
Solar panels are commonly roof-mounted, but they can also be placed on the ground or on top of structures like carports. Regardless of where the panels are placed, the technology is the same. When sunlight hits a solar panel, the photo-voltaic cells absorb the light and generate an electrical current, with the help of solar fuses and other specialized equipment, that is either sent into your house for use or stored in a battery for later. Most residential solar panels are connected to an electrical grid, which gives homeowners the option of selling excess energy to the grid if their solar panels produce more energy than they use.
The price of residential solar panels has gone down by roughly 70% over the past 10 years, and an average-sized residential solar panel system costs around $18,000 before tax credits or rebates. Most homeowners pay off their solar panels in 7-15 years meaning your panels will generate essentially free green energy once the system is paid off.
It is important to note that installing solar panels rarely eliminates your monthly energy bill. Solar panels cannot operate at peak efficiency 100% of the time, as the sun does not shine consistently. Even with solar panels, there is a high probability you will need to use grid electricity to cover your household’s energy usage.
Smaller is Greener
If you are building a new eco-friendly home from scratch, then the size of your house will be an important factor. Many homeowners are pulled in by the allure of large homes, but it is more environmentally friendly to build a house exactly as large as you need with smaller homes being greener. Smaller houses use fewer materials during construction, require less energy to heat/cool, and cost less to build and maintain. If you need a larger home, build vertically instead of horizontally to minimize the environmental impact on the land surrounding your house. Lofts create extra square footage without expanding the exterior walls. Use ladders or spiral stairs instead of traditional long stairs as loft access to be even more space-efficient.
Straw Bales as an Alternative Green Construction Material
Once you have decided on the size of your new eco-friendly house, it is time to choose materials. Most houses are made from wood, but other materials are green alternatives. A straw bale house may sound like it could be easily blown over, but straw bale houses are safe, sturdy, and sustainable. Straw bales are made from waste, discarded grain stalks, and require little energy to produce as the sun is the primary source of energy for growing grains. There are two types of straw bale construction: load-bearing and non-load bearing. Both methods can be blended to create the hybrid method.
Load-bearing straw bale houses use tightly bound straw bales as the actual structure and are finished with a covering of plaster. Non-load bearing straw bale homes use a lumber frame and the bales serve as insulation in between boards. The hybrid method might use load-bearing straw bales for a portion of the house and non-load bearing techniques for a different section. Straw bale homes are simple to build but require different skills than traditional construction. The simple process allows DIY enthusiasts to build their own homes with the instruction and supervision of one seasoned straw bale builder instead of a professional building crew.
There are many benefits of building a house using straw bales. Contrary to common concerns, straw bale houses are less flammable than wooden frame houses. The bales used in construction are more tightly bound than common barn bales, which keeps oxygen and moisture out of the material. Bales also make wonderful insulation because of the thickness and density of each bale, however, that thickness requires extra planning.
Straw bale walls are significantly thicker than standard lumber walls, and if the extra thickness is not accounted for during planning, you will find yourself with less interior space. Thankfully, straw bale construction costs are low and building a slightly larger house to compensate for the thicker walls doesn’t result in a large environmental impact.
Using eco-friendly alternative building materials like straw bales to build your green home helps protect the planet without sacrificing modern living standards and comforts.
There are numerous ways to shrink your carbon footprint and live a greener life. Adding renewable energy to your home with solar panels lets you generate your own electricity and reduce your dependence on grid energy. Smaller houses are more eco-friendly and cost less to maintain. Using eco-friendly alternative building materials like straw bales helps protect the planet without sacrificing modern living standards and comforts.
Guest post by Gwen Lewis
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