Interesting Tips to Make Your Home Green

If your sky-rocketing utility bills are upsetting you, then it is high time to make your house more energy-efficient. In the last decade, home improvement sector has evidently exploded with environment friendly practices and products, which guarantee to save homeowners a lot of money in the electricity bills. These green products are basically made from sustainable or recycled materials that last longer, in comparison to their conventional counterparts. However, with so many green products available in the market, it is not easy for the homeowners to make right choices. Considering this fact, given below are some interesting tips on how you can make your home green.

* Evaluate insulation and siding – A significant aspect of green lifestyle is decreasing one’s carbon footprint. This can be done by using lesser energy in various parts of the house. One great way to decrease energy consumption is to make sure that your house is properly insulated. Using eco-friendly or green insulation, made from materials like wool, cotton, recycled fabrics such as soybeans, denim etc, is a great way to go. Besides, evaluate the outdoor siding of your house by poking the walls. If your house is old and needs a face lift, then go for green products, such as fiber-cement siding, insulated-vinyl siding etc. Both would last for several years and need no or very less maintenance.

* Improve air quality inside the house – People living in environment friendly houses with better quality of air are happier, healthier and smarter. One great way to improve air quality inside your house is using low or zero VOC paints. These are easily available at any home improvement store at almost same price as traditional paints. Besides, the type of flooring you have also determines the air quality in your house. Traditional carpets, over time, trap allergens, mold, pet dander, and dust mites, making it difficult to get rid of them. The worst it does is deteriorating the quality of air inside the house. The best way to deal with this issue is either choosing environment friendly carpets with no or low VOCs or go for the hard floors fabricated from materials, like bamboo, cork, hardwood etc.

* Update the dated appliances – A kitchen loaded with high-end stainless steel machines and appliances looks beautiful, but functionality and practicality is more crucial to consider. Kitchen appliances, like stove, dishwasher and refrigerator use high amount of energy. It is therefore best to replace older appliances with the new ones, having energy star ratings.

* Window or door replacement – Those who have an old house with drafty doors and windows, a window or door replacement project would definitely be a great idea. It can actually make a great impact on your energy bills. While shopping for the new doors or windows, go for top quality products, such as Energy Star labeled windows, which use recycled materials or sustainable woods, and triple-pane windows/doors, which would keep your home comfortable year-round.

Remember remodeling a house is not about spending a lot of money. Even with small changes you can create a significant impact. So, employ all these interesting tips and get set to make your house a healthier and happier place to reside.

Eco-Friendly Trends That Are Actually Saving the World

On the contrary, the studies conducted in the past few years have provided indisputable evidence that eco-friendly trends have greatly contributed to reducing the depletion of finite resources, pollution levels and have actually managed to restore the ozone layer. No matter where you live in the world, following these trends is not just a fad – it is a responsible gesture, a transition towards a better life and, ultimately, a better planet. Are you ready to become a real-life superhero?

Eco-friendly travel

As much as they tried implementing eco-friendly changes to their infrastructure, hotels remain a major source of pollution because they generate a lot of waste. From their high commercial cleaning requirements to their impressive water and energy waste, hotels may provide a luxury experience, but they do little in terms of environmental protection. This is why the past decade has seen a steady growth in alternative accommodation methods and green travel. Tourists everywhere are trying and loving agritourism and are starting to prefer peer-to-peer accommodation over hotels. This not only offers a more personal, raw experience, but also reduces waste. Guests use strictly the resources they need and disposal is done in a more responsible way.

Sustainable home improvement

For many years, it was widely believed that corporations were the only ones that could make a noticeable difference in terms of protecting the planet, but that this myth was quickly busted. Every change matters, even at a local scale, and home improvement trends, if followed by many people all over the world, can have a huge collective impact. Some of the best examples include:

· Replacing conventional lights with energy efficient LED lights

· Investing in energy efficient grade A windows

· Installing insulation to reduce energy waste

· Planting trees around the house to create natural insulation and improve air quality

· Building houses using eco-friendly materials

· Switching to non-toxic cleaning products

· Using environmentally friendly gadgets and appliances

Fair-trade production

Reading the words “fair trade” on a label used to be quite a rarity a few decades ago, but now, this sign is the hallmark of a modern, responsible, environmentally aware company. Fair trade means that corporations are taking steps towards helping the planet and the people in developing countries. According to the World Fair Trade Organization, companies who pledge to this idea make every effort to develop transparency and accountability across their entire activity. They have to create equal opportunities and fair payment for their workers, provide good working conditions and practice respect for the environment. They should obtain supplies only from certified, legal sources and avoid waste as much as possible. Local suppliers are preferred over international ones and green materials should be used wherever possible, from production to packaging.

Renewable power sources

More and more families are welcoming renewable energy into their homes, especially under the form of solar panels, which have benefited from so many Government incentives that in some areas they’re becoming mainstream. In the US, the use of solar panels has grown to 40% and even China has taken measures to popularize solar panels. Apart from solar panels, other devices promise to revolutionize energy storage. For example, Tesla announced the Powerwall in 2015, a sort of battery that can store energy for later use.

Recycling initiatives

Recycling is one of the oldest eco-friendly trends on the list, if not the oldest, and young generations are starting to learn about its importance while in elementary school. Of course, when hearing that the simple act of throwing an empty tin can in the right garbage disposal saves enough energy to power a TV for three hours, it’s hard not to make part in the recycling trend. At present, this is actively pursued by both individuals and companies, although some countries are better at it than others. For example, only 17% of Canada’s waste was recycled, which led authorities to initiate public projects promoting scrap metal recycling in Toronto and other major cities. Germany, on the other hand, is winning the recycling race with a whopping 65% of their waste being re-used. South Korea is second on the list, followed by Slovenia and Australia.

Electric vehicles

Electric cars have gone from ugly, unpractical vehicles to glamorous, state of the art toys for tech-savvy people. Thanks to manufacturers such as Tesla, Toyota and BMW, electric hybrids now look amazing and they’re much easier to fuel. Besides, many countries have rebate programs for people who buy electric cars, which balances the relatively high purchasing costs. For the younger population, or people who don’t want to invest in electric cars just yet, electric scooters are an equally friendly idea.

Benefits Of Going Green In Real Estate

There are a number of reasons why you should go green. A green lifestyle is not only good for you but also for the environment. Moreover, making eco-friendly changes in one’s life is not as costly as many people believe. For instance, walking instead of driving whenever possible is an easy green lifestyle alteration that does not cost anything, but still helps in saving the environment. Some of the most important benefits of going green are listed below –

* Home value – The value of your home would increase, if you consider using sustainable and eco-friendly materials in your house. For example, water saving toilets and solar panels can save you a lot of money on the utility bills.

* Water bills – Using appliances with energy star ratings can help you save a lot of water and cut back on your monthly water bills. The newer low flush toilets are also highly efficient and use lesser amount of water.

* Energy bills – If more and more buildings are updated with energy saving green units for water and electricity, then people would apparently consume lesser energy annually. By making such upgrades, you can also enjoy deductions and refunds on the taxes by the government.

* Durability – Eco friendly homes tend to last longer, as compared to traditional homes. Moreover, green homes do not really need painting or treating for the outdoor projects, such as decks.

* Less toxicity – Materials that are toxic in nature come out of cleaners and paints that have volatile organic compounds in them. Green or eco-friendly houses do not support the use of such materials and thus, have a good indoor air quality.

* Less waste – By building or renovating a home, using green products, the waste can be significantly reduced, as eco-friendly products are recyclable.

* Adaptability – Green homes last for more number of years, in comparison to traditional homes. Many eco-friendly houses incorporate big open areas, which are easy and simple to rearrange and remodel.

* Preserve the surroundings – Green homes have the least footprint on the surroundings and thus, work towards safeguarding the nature.

* Conserve the natural resources – The green building practices focus on conserving the natural resources by supporting the use of recycled materials, rather than new trees.

* Affordability – Majority of the green building materials and products available in the market are available at more affordable rates, than the traditional materials. Moreover, the green alterations that you make in your life also help you save a great deal of money.

To summarize, going green offers a lot of benefits and thus, it is important for each one of us to support the “green movement” and lead an environment friendly life. By going green, you would not only be able to have a better health and improved lifestyle, but also save a great deal of money. Above all, you would be able to play a significant role in protecting Mother Nature.

Environmentally Friendly Construction Materials

The use of environment-friendly construction materials is becoming more popular these days. Partly, because of the louder calls for sustainable living; and largely, because of the immediate need to improve earth’s health. The acceleration of environmental problems such as resource depletion and climate change has strong association with the real estate industry – specifically with new construction.

If you are buying a new home, you could already be thinking of purchasing one that is more conscious of the environment. Here are some of the construction materials that befriend nature, deserving your attention of probable choices for the house you are going to buy.

Lime

This material has been used in buildings since the ancient times probably dating back to some 5000 years ago. Evidences point to its usage because of its resilient, durable, and water resistant properties. Contrary to modern coatings, lime in its original state which is calcium carbonate, has the ability to release the moisture from the surfaces – rather than trap it. This material has been rediscovered by construction engineers and applied today as one of the eco-friendly materials in green home sand buildings.

Cob or Mud

Have you ever read history books with sections dealing with houses made of mud or clay? These houses are called cob homes. Many of them are located in Asia and in some parts of Africa and Europe. Cob made use of clay-based soil, water and straw – mixing them together until desired thickness and ladling them into the stone foundation trodding them into place. Modern construction got inspiration from this and basically employs the same materials and principles. But with the use of mud loaves, the cob can get thicker to up to 300 to 500 mm. Rubble trenches, earth bags, and rammed tyres can be used as cheap foundations.

Flax and hemp

These materials are eyed as natural alternatives to expensive insulation materials like fiberglass, mineral wool, and multi-foils. Flax and hemp are natural plant fibers which are made available to the construction industry in batts and rolls. These plant fibers contain borates which have fungi and pest-killing properties along with its fire-retardant capabilities. To bind them together, starch is added. The eco-friendly property of these materials relies on their low embodied energy.

These are just some of the environment-friendly materials which you may want to consider for use on your new construction house. For other eco-friendly construction materials, you can talk to your local real estate agent who has the freshest information about green building and green real estate.

Microfiber Cleaning Cloth – An Environmentally Friendly Way to Clean Your House

Most of us never realise that our homes are extremely polluted, and it is we who pollute them. It is the trivial routine choices that we make which a go a long way in keeping a home healthy and safe. Our choice of washing liquids is one of them. It is worthwhile to switch to tile cleaners as the normal traditional cleaners release harmful and toxic chemical compounds into the air and it is this air that you and your family is going to inhale.

However, just switching to a healthier and more eco friendly cleaner does not ensure that your home will be less polluted. There are a bunch of tips that you must follow to make your home pollution free. You must try and use as little of the cleaning substance as is possible. Even the best of such products do pollute the environment, even though the extent of damage might be very less. Also, they utilise a lot of natural resources in their manufacture and packaging. And they don’t come cheap either, so using them in small quantity is going to go well with your pocket too.

One of the simplest ways to switch to a more eco friendly and less expensive cleaning schedule is by using microfiber cloths. Normally used to clean lenses and electronics, they are not easily available in stores. But if you can get hold of them, they are an excellent investment. They have many advantages over normal cleaning equipment. The two major ones being that they don’t need any soap or detergent, just water can be used to clean things with these cloths. Secondly, they last for as long as a few months, sometimes even years.

Their intricate woven structure is designed in a manner that the small nodules are spread all over the surface of the material to be cleaned. This structure closely resembles that of soap lather, which is why these cloths can clean filth and grime just with water. Generally, solid surfaces can be cleaned without using a cleaner, but if something is extremely dirty or if you want it to be antiseptically clean, you can use a little mild cleaning substance. It might not make a lot of difference, but psychologically it will make you feel more comfortable and safe.

The best part about them is that their inbuilt structure ensures that they last for a long period of time. It makes more sense economically to buy a few of these and be relieved for months together. Then you don’t have to bother about getting towels, sponges and other cleaning cloths. If the microfiber cloth become dirty, all you have to do is wash itin a washing machine.

It’s high time that you give up your sponges and dusters and switch to eco friendly and convenient to use microfiber cloths.

Eco Friendly Property in Spain

“Go Green” – “ECO friendly” – “save the planet” – “Global Warming”. All words we are very familiar with unless you have lived on the moon for the past 5 years or so. Now everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and offering green products and services. But how green are they and is it just a token gesture to be popular? We have been researching the possibilities of building eco friendly and economical green villas in Spain after I inadvertently made the mistake of asking my wife how she would like her new house built. “Eco friendly” she replied.

Those two words began a journey of thousands of miles across Europe and countless hours researching the web to find out how “eco friendly” I could build her dream home. Initially I found that an eco friendly home was just a cave house…I didn’t fancy living in or building a cave house, or they had thicker lagging on pipes or they offered solar water heaters…BIG DEAL, I expected that as standard, in fact it is law in Spain now to have alternative water heating supply, one company even classed a home as eco friendly because the heating had a thermostat.

Two years later and after securing the sole rights to build with a German quality ICF system we are beginning our first two new eco friendly villas in Spain for clients and have several scheduled to begin next year. The interest has been amazing; unfortunately this means my wife’s dream home has been put on hold for a while but our business and our attitude to all things green is being transformed. We are offering geothermal heating systems, solar power, grey water systems, water saving systems inside and outside the home, wind turbines, appliance advice, lighting systems I never knew existed and even waterless toilets (the jury is still out on that one with me) all this to make our eco friendly villas in Spain as economically friendly as we can. The fantastic thing about the Eco friendly build systems is the speed and insulating values they offer. A traditional styled villa of a 100m2 villa can be erected within 10 days! Saving weeks of labour charges thus bringing the cost of these new eco friendly properties on par or even cheaper than traditional block and beam villas. The insulation values are amazing and they even have fantastic sound insulation (great if you have noisy teenagers like us).

When we first introduced this system to an architect he looked blankly at the proposal and smiled that smile you see in Spain when you know they think you are mad and after experiencing this manic suppressed grin over a lengthy period of time with a lot of old – maybe not old but my age – OK old Architects! We finally came across a young enthusiastic architect who believed and embraced the system as we did. We drew up a set of plans and submitted them to the local town hall and put the project forward to the bank for a valuation. The town hall was thrilled with the idea and the bank valued the project over 40% higher than we charged the client! Now this could have a lot to do with the fact that we are inexpensive builders but the manager did tell us they are valuing homes with eco friendly factors higher than traditional homes.

House Moving, the Environmentally Friendly Way

House moving may not always be the most eco-friendly affair. Moving out of a home requires a significant amount of resources, supplies and not to mention, time. If we are not careful, the entire process can leave a huge mess of non-recyclable material (particularly if you have a habit of storing non-essentials in the house) and generate harmful emissions, all of which is not environmentally friendly. Fortunately with a little effort and planning, even when moving, we can still do our part to save the earth. If you’re planning to relocate soon, here are some tips to help minimize the eco-damage associated with moving.

Plan For a Single Trip

Automobiles release a large amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and a moving truck contributes to these emissions. It gets worse if you have to make multiple trips when relocating. You can minimize these emissions by planning for a single trip and one of the ways to do this is to rent a large-enough vehicle. A smaller vehicle may have to do several trips and that would contribute a large amount of emissions. Look for a vehicle that will fit everything you need to move so that you only make one trip.

Donate or Sell What You Don’t Need

Bulky items such as furniture and old electronics you don’t want anymore only add weight and take up space in the moving truck. The heavier the truck is the more emissions it releases and the more fuel it uses. Hence, you may instead wish to donate some of these items or get rid of them in a garage sale. Alternatively, you can also sell them online. Sites like eBay are great for this purpose.

By selling or donating your unwanted items, you will free up more space in the truck and also minimize fuel consumption. The unwanted items will also be put into good use in another home rather than wastefully dumped.

Use Green, Biodegradable and Recycled Packing Supplies

Not all packing supplies are recyclable. Hence to move the eco-friendly way, make an effort to use green moving supplies where possible.

Rather than using new cardboard boxes, use recycled ones. Instead of Styrofoam peanuts, lay your hands on green packing peanuts and don’t forget to choose biodegradable packing tape. But don’t stop here. You may also consider using old newspapers or linen to wrap up delicate items or use packaging from old purchases. Doing so will have an added benefit of helping you minimize moving costs. In addition, non-disposable containers are terrific when used for a green move; instead of using just traditional cardboard moving boxes, try using plastic containers, clean trash cans and plastic bins.

Packing Breakables For a Move

Instead of bubble wrap, shredded newspaper and linen can be used as an alternative to wrap breakables and paintings. Just wrap your fragile items with linen or newspaper, tape it down with green packing tape and you’ll save a ton on bubble wrap. More importantly, you won’t have to throw anything away when you get to your new home. It’s a simple solution that works for your benefit and for the environment.

Hire a green moving company

Lots of moving companies advertise green business practices and they make excellent contractors for an eco-friendly move. Some green movers use low-emission vehicles and recycled supplies which help cut down on toxic emissions while other movers power their offices using renewable energy. Green companies make it a point to reduce the effects of toxic waste and facilitate house moving the eco-friendly way.

Other Little Things to Consider

If you are cleaning up the old place after the move, use environmentally friendly cleaning products or insist that your hire cleaners use them.

In you new home, find all opportunities to install and use only energy saving gadgets. For example, use LED lighting instead of incandescent bulbs or dc motor energy saving ceiling fans instead of the traditional ac motor powered ones. Above all, get rid of the habit of buying things on impulse only to dump them a few years later.

Do the above and you would have done your part in ensuring that your house moving process is as eco-friendly as possible.

Tips for Making Your Neighborhood More Eco-Friendly

It’s not just your house that you should be concerned enough to turning green. After exerting efforts to make your place as sustainable and as eco-friendly as possible, why don’t you do homework together with your neighbors and turn your neighborhood into one that is eco-friendly too. Here are some tips.

Sharing garden space. Why would I share my garden with my neighbors? There are various benefits you can get from this act. First, your unused garden can be a space that supports plant and flower life. It can be turned into one that yields fruits and vegetables. There are organizations that are willing to give seeds in return of the favor of using your garden for their activities.

Establishing neighborhood cooperatives. A lot of success stories have been told about the establishment of neighborhood cooperatives. These can range from types that support the collection of recyclable wastes from the neighborhood and turning them over to larger recycling facilities in exchange for cash. The recyclers can often drop by at your designated place in specific intervals to pick up what you have collected. This is an efficient way of teaching your neighbors the importance of solid waste reduction.

Neighborhood coops can also be the types that produce processed or bottled foods, baked goodies, and other small scale profitable ventures.

Encourage the holding of swap days. It takes a lot of energy to make new things. It will also involve raw materials which are mainly coming from nature to make some of the thing you usually like. Taking inspiration from the old barter system of our ancestors, why don’t you initiate the staging of swap days among your neighbors every weekend.

This is a great opportunity not only to score the stuff you like but to also make friends with your neighbors. It will strengthen cooperation among neighbors while allowing each and everyone in your community to partake in conservation efforts.

If you’re good at baking, why not bring in some of your goodies. Who knows you can exchange it for a vase that is very fit for your center table. There are a lot of possible trades that can happen. You can even make it a swap party anchored with a weekly theme so things for swaps will have some variety.

Making your neighborhood an eco-friendly one can also be a goal towards developing a place that is harmonious and where people are always willing to exert an extra dose of helpfulness.

For other real estate concerns, your local real estate agent is just a call away. He or she has expert advises that can be helpful in owning an eco-friendly house.