This is the year of big inventions, big style, and big changes in the way we see green living. Gone are the days of sacrificing comfort for conscience or style for scruples. Here are five eco-conscious upgrades to look for in your next home.
Ra Ra Solar!
Solar isn’t the newest technology on the block, but it’s certainly the most comprehensive. As the most renewable source of energy, a solar panel installation project is the biggest and most cost-effective way to combat depleting natural resources and adding to planet pollution. Plus, you’ll be generating free energy for a lifetime, with only the occasional panel cleaning necessary for maintenance.
Who doesn’t love the warm, cozy look of a wooden floor in the home? Unfortunately, most wooden floors are unsustainably sourced, so their beautiful aesthetic comes with a high price of deforestation. Thankfully, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives. Bamboo is a quickly replenishing plant that makes a gorgeous substitute, as does cork flooring, which is naturally insulating, too. Natural stone tiling such as marble, granite, or slate offers a sophisticated and long-lasting finish, as long as it’s responsibly sourced. If you must have classic wooden flooring, make sure it bears the FSC stamp of approval—the Forest Stewardship Council certifies brands in every species imaginable, so you’ll be making a responsible choice with a stunning look.
Reducing our carbon footprint is imperative for minimizing the effects of global warming, and being more energy efficient at home is one of the easiest ways to do so. Because homes lose 30% of their energy to cooling and heating during the summers and winters, you’ll want to look for an energy-efficient HVAC unit during your house-hunting. Smart thermostats are a standout feature, since they give more precise control over interior temperature. Keep an eye out for the Energy Star label and you’ll know you’re choosing responsibly. Also be on the lookout for weatherstripping and sturdy installation, and windows that are draft-free.
Energy Efficient Appliances
If you’re unsure about the performance of a dishwasher or refrigerator—which is the biggest energy vampire of the kitchen—Energy Star does all the work for you. Their labeling system specifies the appliances that meet government standards for energy efficiency. These products are 10-50% more efficient than their alternatives, so you’ll be doing a favor for the environment while also saving on your monthly energy bills.
Whatever your variety of eco-elegance, innovations in technology and growing global accountability mean living in a waste-reducing manner isn’t the pipe dream it once seemed. A healthier environment and reduced energy bills? Going green has never looked so good.