Thursday, December 28, 2017

10 Ways to Make Your Home Green

What if I told you that during your entire life you could only own one car -- that's it! You would probably do everything in your power to maintain it, drive it very carefully and ensure each step you take is one that will prolong the life of it.

Our planet is our "one-vehicle" and we have to do everything we can to protect it and prolong it's life since our's are directly tied to it.

One simple way we each can help our environment out is by looking at ways to become more green within our household.  Recycling and decreasing the amount of trash we produce is certainly important, but its just one aspect.  Another aspect that may be overlooked is the home itself.

At SMK Realty Solutions, we take great pride in crafting our homes to be beautiful, but we also build with the environment in mind.  And today, we'd like to share some simple things, we have implemented, that you can also do to your home to make it more green.

Programmable Thermostats

Cost: $40-$100

An easy way to save energy and cut your power bill.  Half of your energy bill goes to heating/cooling your home.  You can automatically set certain temps throughout the day and night to maximize the comfort of your home while saving the earth and money.

LED and CFL Lighting

Cost: $2 more per bulb than a typical incandescent bulb

LED and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) offer incredible energy and cost savings over regular incandescent bulbs. Both options do cost more upfront, but they produce less heat, use less energy and last significantly longer than traditional light bulbs, so they're ideal green lighting options for your new home. CFLs cost only about $2 more per bulb than the incandescent variety, but offer an overall cost savings (including reduced energy bills) of more than $60 per bulb when compared to a 100-watt incandescent bulb.

Low Flow Toilets

Cost: $100-$500

There are many low-flow features you can add to your new home to conserve water and cut down on your water bill costs, including faucets, shower heads and toilets. Toilets are the most obvious starting point because they use 26 percent of the water in your home. Today's industry standard for toilets is 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf).  

So, what's the downside to low-flow toilets? Many consumers complain that less water per flush means more cleaning. However, manufacturers are listening to customer complaints, and are continuing to add new features to their water-efficient toilets.  Also, many eco toilets can be more expensive than standard models, but if you go with last year's high-efficiency model, you can usually snag one at a discount.

Energy Star Appliances

Cost: Depends on appliance, but similar to non-energy efficient.

ENERGY STAR is becoming a well-known symbol for energy-efficient appliances. While you probably are familiar with the symbol, you may not know ENERGY STAR is a government program that was started to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The result has been a well-trusted, easily identifiable system to help consumers choose the most energy-efficient appliances for their homes.

Energy Efficient Windows

Cost: $200 per window

Replacing windows on an existing home isn't always a good idea because it can be quite expensive and only offers an energy bill savings of 7 to 15 percent [source: ENERGY STAR]. But if you're building a house, choosing energy-efficient windows during construction provides enough energy savings to cover the added cost per window (usually $15 more than a generic window). If you decide to find a greener window option for your home, there are a few things to keep in mind. Most importantly, you need to understand thermal transmission (or U-factor, as it is commonly known) and solar heat gain ratings. These ratings measure the amount of heat that is lost in the winter months and gained in the summer months, respectively. The lower the rating for each, the more energy efficient your window will be. 

Sustainable Materials

Cost: Check your supplier based on the item

There are many different ways to use green and sustainable materials if you're buidling or upgrading your home.  For example, bamboo flooring is beautiful and sustainable.  For counter tops, you could go with recycled glass like Vertazzo instead of granite or some other type of stone that isn't renewable.    Be sure to ask your contractor or supplier for more sustainable options in terms of materials for your home.

HVAC System Upgrade

Cost: $2000-$6000 depending on size, make, etc.

Heating and cooling your home costs an average of more than $1,000 a year [source: ENERGY STAR]. So, it's clear that choosing an upgraded HVAC system will help you save energy and money. Choosing an ENERGY STAR-rated HVAC over a generic system could increase your home's energy efficiency by 9 percent [source: ENERGY STAR]. But even if you buy the most efficient HVAC system, it won't perform to its full potential unless it is properly installed. ENERGY STAR to the rescue again. They have developed Quality Installation (QI) guidelines to help ensure your HVAC system reduces your energy costs by up to 30 percent over non-QI installations by considering things like whether the size of the unit is correct for your home.

Another option to completely upgrading your system is to "zone" your HVAC system.  This allows you to split up your home into different heating and cooling zones to maximize comfort while minimizing energy consumption.  For example, at night time, you may only want to heat/cool the bedrooms only.


Cost: Totally depends on type of landscaping

Believe it or not, proper landscaping can add to the energy efficiency of your home by providing shade in the summer months and insulation in the winter months. The EPA suggests planting trees that lose their leaves on the western and southern sides of your home to support this phenomenon. In the summer, the trees will provide shade and block infrared radiation, keeping your house cooler. In the winter, when the trees lose their leaves, they will allow more sunlight to reach the windows and warm your home. Planting native trees is best, because they will thrive in your city's environment. Additionally, the plants and other landscaping can help support the environment and wildlife around your home. With a focus on the natural landscape and plants native to the area, you can actually save money on the cost of taking care of your lawn, as most natural landscaping requires less water and maintenance, which can add up to an average of $700 a year [source: EPA].

Tankless Water Heaters

Cost: $500-$1000 each

We've all done the little dance on a particularly cold morning waiting for the shower water to heat up. And, while you're waiting for the hot water, you're paying for all of that cold water escaping down the drain. You're also paying for your water heater to store, heat and reheat a supply of water in the tank. But imagine having instant hot water. You can with a tankless water heater. They heat only the water that is needed as it passes through an electric coil. This eliminates excess energy costs and wasted energy associated with a tank, often saving a reported 50 percent on your energy bill [source: Consumer Reports]. And as an added bonus, eliminating the hot water tank can free up valuable storage space. Sound too good to be true? Well, it might be for your home. Tankless water heaters are expensive and have limited hot-water flow rates, which means they may not perform to your liking, especially if you have a larger home that often has multiple showers running, or during the winter months when the water passing through the electric coil is particularly cold.

Proper Insulation

Cost: $2-$4 per sq/ft

Probably the most important green home upgrade to consider when building a home is proper insulation. Insulation can cost a considerable amount if you wait to install it at a later date, so it's best to take care of it during initial construction. As we've mentioned several times, heating and cooling account for nearly half of your home's energy consumption [source: Archer]. Proper insulation will ensure that expensive energy that's heating and cooling your home isn't escaping out the windows or through the roof. Unfortunately, there isn't anything you can do to completely prevent heat from escaping from your house in the cool months, or entering the home in the warm months, but properly insulating the walls and attics can slow the rate significantly.

While there are many different types of insulation to choose from -- fiberglass, foam and cellulose -- nothing is as important as choosing the right person to do the installation. The best contractors will use an infrared camera once installation is complete to ensure there aren't any gaps or holes where heat is escaping [source: Sachs]. To make your home even more of an insulated fortress, you may also consider upgrading your weather stripping and sealant around the doors and windows.

SMK Realty Solutions

We hope you have found this information useful for either upgrading your home, or building your forever home -- while keeping mother Earth in mind.  We take great pride in our projects and take into account our environment while we develop homes.

If you or someone you know is in need to sell their home, feel free to pass our information along.  We buy all types of homes.  With SMK Realty Solutions, you don't have to keep your home clean, have your home sit on the market for extended periods of time where various people trudge their way through your personal space.  And if there are aspects that need to be fixed, we'll purchase the home AS-IS and deal with the repairs ourselves.  

We also offer referral bonuses too.

Send us an email at or feel free to give us a call at (301) 329-6500.

Have a wonderful New Year!  And may 2018 bring you great joy and success.

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