While some homes are actually certified as Green by a housing or environmental industry group, a home doesn’t have to carry a label to be considered Green. Certified or not, Green homes incorporate systems and features that lower utility bills, improve health and comfort and minimize the impact on the planet. They are often described as high-performance, eco-friendly or energy-efficient.
Green Strategies for Existing Homes
For existing homes, there is a vast array of strategies for greater Green efficiencies.
These can include small, inexpensive upgrades, like installing low-flow water faucets, energy-efficient light bulbs and programmable thermostats.
Replacing old appliances, typically huge consumers of energy, is another relatively low-cost Green strategy. The Environmental Protection Agency has simplified the shopping process by offering the ENERGY STAR® label for dishwashers, clothes washers or freezers that efficiently use energy and natural resources and thus, should save you money. Check the Puget Sound Energy website at www.pse.com for current rebates on ENERGY STAR® appliances.
In addition, less visible elements, such as efficient insulation and air sealing, create a more comfortable, less drafty interior environment. The bigger, more costly projects—high-efficiency furnaces, solar panels and triple-pane windows—often provide even greater financial and environmental gains.
New Homes Built Green
Newly-constructed homes are being built to high standards that embrace Green principles. Many builders now take a scientific, whole-building approach to ensure that a property’s design, layout and systems work in concert for a functional, comfortable setting that addresses environmental concerns.
Here is a short checklist of Green features to look for in a home:
- Energy-efficiency features like appliances, water faucets, lighting, heating, cooling and water-heating systems.
- Efficient building envelopes with high-performance windows and well-insulated walls, floors and attics.
- Non-toxic building materials and finishes, such as recycled or renewable woods and low-and zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and sealants.
- A landscape featuring native plants that thrive without chemical fertilizers or excessive watering.
- A home’s location can be energy-efficient, where public transportation and the needs of daily life are accessible without a car.
Get started “Greening” your home.
In Olympia, WA and the surrounding area, we are fortunate to have several wonderful resources available to us.
- Thurston Energy is a program of the non-profit Thurston Economic Development Council Business Resource Center and brings energy-efficiency awareness and services to Thurston, Grays Harbor, Mason, Lewis and Pacific counties. Their website (ThurstonEnergy.org) has a wealth of information and is a place to order an energy audit of your home and find rebates and trusted contractors to help with upgrades.
- Puget Sound Energy provides information on current rebate programs for window replacement and many other energy-efficient upgrades. They are a great resource to for current rebates. Check their website (pse.com) often, as the rebates change.
- Northwest EcoBuilding Guild is a community of builders, designers, suppliers, homeowners and partners concerned with ecological building in the Pacific Northwest. The Guild provides classes, events and workshops on many Green building features. Check their website www.EcoBuilding.org for the upcoming Solar Home Tour.
Buying a home is the most important economic decision most people make in their lives. By seeking homes constructed or updated with Green features, buyers not only do their part to protect the environment, but also save on energy costs while guarding the health and safety of their family.
Cyndi Nelson, ABR, CRS, SRES, was one of the first Realtors in the state of Washington to receive a Realtor® GREEN Designation. When you buy a home with Cyndi, her gift to you is a free energy audit.She can be reached at (360)701-4223.