Easy Ways to Save the Planet (and Cash on Your Utility Bills)
While still in the grip of Winter’s chill, it may not be easy to think in terms of things like your air conditioning unit. However, now is the perfect time to get a jump on Spring by going “green” before the grass and those first beautiful little leaves on the trees do. Whether building a custom home from the ground up or renovating an existing home to restore it to its prior glory (or better), Highlight Homes and Highlight Home Restoration encourages each and every one of our clients to take simple steps that are not only eco-friendly, but are also healthier alternatives for both your family AND your wallet.
Simple Ways to Go Green This Spring:
- Purchase energy-efficient appliances for your kitchen. A kitchen remodel is a terrific time to have this done, and you may even qualify for a nice tax credit during the next tax year to offset the cost.
- If you’re considering a bath remodel, you might want to have a low-flow or dual-flush toilet installed. In the event that you also need a new tub, many tubs and toilets are now being manufactured from post-recycled materials and include slick surfaces that reduce the need for “environmentally Unfriendly” bleach products.
- By replacing or installing insulated doors and windows in your home, you will reduce the amount of thermal transfer and cut down significantly on your energy bills.
- Need new flooring? You may want to consider using earth-friendly bamboo, which is sustainable, readily available and fast growing – so no need to lose sleep over cutting down a forest to have beautiful wood flooring. You can also use tiles made from recycled materials such as glass, plastic and rubber.
- The act of substituting your HVAC unit for a more energy efficient model – units with 15 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) or greater will mean lower energy bills and higher efficiency. You could also look into using a Geothermal model, which relies upon the entirely renewable resource of Earth’s thermal energy to heat and cool your home.
- Have a tankless water heater installed in your current or new home. No more waiting for the water to get hot (thereby saving countless gallons each day), plus you’ll help save the planet AND money in the process. Imagine never running out of hot water! Solar water heating through the use of solar panels connected to water tanks contained within your roof are quickly growing in popularity for their efficiency, as well.
- According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), indoor air is 3x more polluted than outdoor air and is among the top 5 hazards to human health. Use of non-toxic paints such as natural, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) or zero VOC paints on the interior walls and trim of your home will reduce the levels of toxicity in the air your family breathes.
- Add insulation to your attic to help avoid heat loss during the winter months and air conditioning loss during those hot summer days. This simple addition will help you enjoy a warmer home in the winter and cooler home in the summer.
- To be a really aggressive eco-superhero, consider installing solar panels and wind generators to power your home. You could be the first one on your block to lead the way to the future of earth-friendly power.
Highlight Homes and Highlight Home Restoration can help you and your family take steps to Going Green in the coming months. With our combined love of building fine homes and doing our part to protect the environment, Highlight Homes is most proud of our distinction for being a Green Builder. Aside from the great care we devote to developing special communities featuring an abundance of beautiful green space, we also place a major emphasis on designing homes and home additions that reduce energy consumption and material waste. The benefit to you can be found not only in your utility bills, but also in the comfort, durability and air quality of your home – effectively enhancing your family’s quality of life.
Our dedication to developing our own Earth-friendly initiatives and carefully following green building guidelines are an important piece of what sets us apart from other Atlanta builders and renovators. In order to become a certified Green Builder, certain criteria must be met and then recognized by third-party certification programs such as Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Building Program, Energy Star and Earth Craft House. Highlight Homes has certifications from all four of these nationally and regionally recognized programs:
- Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design for Homes (LEED-H) Program: National system that recognizes excellence in Green Building – made up of volunteer mem-bers of the U.S. Green Building Council who lend their expertise to the technical develop-ment of its criteria to meet one of four different levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. In 2008, Highlight Homes was recognized as having met the LEED Gold Standard.
- National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Building Program: The NAHB hopes to move green initiatives into the mainstream for all of its builder/members by raising the bar with its recently developed National Green Building Program. Homeowners who buy homes with this distinction should know that their homes have met some of the highest standards set for Green Building.
- Energy Star Program: The Energy Star certification is based upon a set of strict guidelines established by the Environ-mental Protection Agency. Homes achieving this certification are at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to meet the standard International Residential Code (IRC) established in 2004. Many Energy Star Homes include additional energy-saving features, making them typically 20-30% more efficient than IRC homes. Every Highlight Home meets the Energy Star standard.
- Earth Craft House Program: A regional certification program recognized in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama – the aim of Earth Craft House is to help builders become better stewards of the environment. Homes built under these guidelines will be more energy efficient equating to reduced utility bills and a healthier living environment. Every Highlight Home that meets the distinction of becoming an Earth Craft House has demonstrated a 20-30% greater energy performance than a standard home.
While we often construct homes to meet the criteria of these nationally and regionally recognized certification programs, we also set a higher standard for ourselves – aptly named “The Highlight Homes Method”. Thorough planning is crucial and occurs long before the home is actually built or renovation takes place. We continuously review the latest construction products and green building methods in order to best improve a home’s health, comfort and value as well as to reduce the overall operating cost. Site selection and stewardship are key to assuring we don’t negatively impact the environment in which a home will be based. Through appropriate design and responsible construction strategies, we can minimize the impact on the site because less time is spent on-site on building activities and staging. Energy efficiency is achieved through the use of the appropriate building science, technology and equipment – leading to lower operating costs for you. A Highlight Home is well-sealed and insulated – our thoughtful finish selections and quality construction practices will aid in enhancing the indoor environmental quality – safeguarding the health of the home’s future occupants – your family. In the end, we have an In-house Quality Assurance Team that thoroughly inspects the house not only once it is completed, but also throughout the construction process. We constantly strive to improve our construction practices, both for the environment and for the benefit of you and all of our homeowners.
In the event that you choose to heed our advice and Go Green this Spring, but elect to go with another builder or contractor – we highly recommend you discuss your desire to use eco-friendly practices with your builder/contractor. Ask him or her questions about their use of green materials, construction techniques, and commitment to recycling and eliminating wasted materials. You can even go so far as to ask that old fixtures and cabinets be recycled (if possible), and that demolition debris be separated so recyclable materials can be reused.
The folks at Highlight Homes and Highlight Home Restoration wish you the very best of luck in your quest to GO GREEN – whether it happens this Spring or sometime in the near future. After all, homeowners like you will help save the planet! If you would like to schedule an appointment to talk about your desire to Go Green with us further, we invite you to call us at 678-873-9234 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gan, Kaja. “Going Green in Home Renovations.” (2007). www.superhomeideas.com.
“Non-Toxic Paints” (2000-2010) www.eartheasy.com