One of the complaints often voiced about going green at home is that many green changes are simply aesthetically dull; others are atrocious. It’s not so much that we value aesthetics over the future of the planet, but every change we make to our home comes at a price, and we factor in many different elements – including style.
Fortunately, not every change to your home that saves energy makes your home uglier. In fact, there are quite a few simple changes you can make that will conserve energy in your home while adding something that’s pleasing to the eye (or that at least doesn’t detract from your home’s natural beauty).
Here are some green home changes you might consider today:
- Repaint or re-stain with low-VOC products. Low-VOC products are known to emit fewer toxic fumes, and can generally improve the overall health of the people in your home. Low-VOC paints come in all colors, so when you’re ready to makeover a room, consider using this kind of paint or stain.
- Replace your light bulbs with carefully-chosen CFL bulbs. One of the biggest complaints critics have about CFL bulbs is that the light can be very numbing and artificial. This complaint isn’t without some merit; the most basic CFL bulbs you find on the shelf very much create a light just like the typical buzzing office fluorescent lights. Fortunately, CFL bulbs come in a number of different styles. There are CFL bulbs that put off the same type of color of light as standard “Soft White” bulbs, for example. Purchase a couple of bulbs of several different types, and choose the ones that best fit the room.
- Install a tankless water heater. While most visitors to your home aren’t going to see your water heater anyways, you probably are from time to time. A tankless water heater heats your water only when hot water is demanded from a faucet. It doesn’t store hot water the way a traditional tank does. You’ll have lower energy bills, faster access to hot water, and won’t have to deal with that eyesore of a water heater in your closet.
- Buy some new appliances. That stove in your kitchen might have looked great in 1989, but today it’s simply out of touch. Not only that, it’s terribly inefficient by today’s standards. Stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and most other appliances can make a huge difference in your home’s energy consumption. Choose appliances with the Energy Star logo, which tend to use between 10% and 50% less than traditional appliances.
- Add a ceiling fan. A ceiling fan can be a wonderful addition to a room or rooms. During the summer, you’re usually going to be most comfortable at around 75 degrees, assuming you’re wearing summer clothing. With a ceiling fan blowing the air around a bit, even a slow moving ceiling fan can boost that up to 82 degrees, saving you significantly in AC costs.
- Put in some bamboo flooring. Bamboo is one of the most environmentally-friendly flooring materials you can install. Is a high yield tree with a fast replenish rate. A typical hardwood will take between 50 to 100 years to mature, whereas a bamboo tree will mature in only four to six years. Not only that, it’s a unique and stylish look that’s sure to get plenty of compliments.
- Plant some native plants. A garden adds tremendous beauty to your home. If you choose plants that are native to your area, you will save significantly on both water and the amount of attention you need to give them. Plants that are native to the local area have learned to adapt over time. Stick with perennials, too, as this saves on the resources that are used to grow annuals.
- Add some energy saving window dressings. There are a variety of blinds and other window dressings that can significantly reduce the energy consumption in your home. These products keep heating or cooling from escaping out into the wild, all while providing an attractive and functional way to let light into the room (or shut it out when necessary).
Going green doesn’t mean you have to go gaudy. In fact, some of these green changes are significantly more attractive than their non-green alternatives. Consider implementing some of these changes today and you’ll not only help to protect the environment, you’ll improve the look and feel of your home as well.