As the popularity of green building—an architectural approach focused on environmentally responsible and resource-efficient processes—is on the rise, so is green home design. Thanks to new advances in technology and products, it’s now easier than ever before to have a more sustainable home. Here are our go-to tips for making your home more eco-friendly.
1. Go Green
Did you know that the U.S. is one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases in the world, second to China? One easy way to help offset your carbon footprint is to bring the outside in with houseplants. Indoor plants have been shown to improve air quality by reducing carbon dioxide levels and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Plus, they liven up the look of just about any space. Not sure where to start your houseplant collection? We recommend Dig It Gardens in the Coronado neighborhood.
2. Shop Second Hand
For home decor that is equal parts ethical, unique and chic, we recommend shopping second hand rather than purchasing from mass-produced furniture stores. From local antique stores and estate sales to vintage markets and house clearances, there are plenty of options for finding well-made, second hand pieces. Known for its vintage and antique offerings, Phoenix’s Melrose District is a great place to start.
3. Energy-Efficient Appliances
On average, dishwashers, refrigerators, washers, dryers and other home appliances account for roughly 13 percent of a household’s energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Which is precisely why optimizing their energy efficiency not only helps out the environment, but could save you significantly in operating costs over an appliance’s lifetime. When shopping for new appliances, or simply upgrading your current ones, we recommend buying an ENERGY STAR®-qualified product. Why? ENERGY STAR®-qualified appliances are around 20 percent more efficient than standard models. ENERGY STAR®-qualified dishwashers also use 5.8 gallons of water or less per cycle—compared to dishwashers from before 1994, which use over 10 gallons of water per cycle.
Bonus Tip: Make sure to read the EnergyGuide label when shopping for new appliances. Found on the back of new appliances, this yellow label shows the estimated annual energy consumption of the appliance.
4. Turn it Off
This one is simple, yet far too easy to forget. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 90 percent of the energy that incandescent lights use is given off as heat, while only the remaining 10 percent produces light. As a result, turning off your lights when not in use can save not only energy, but also money. Turning off your lights when not in use also helps to keep your home cooler—which is everything when it comes to sweltering Arizona summers.
Bonus Tip: Light the Way with LED
While light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs have many benefits, the best one has to be their long lifespan—the average LED light uses 75 percent less energy or more and lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.
Not only can LEDs save you the trouble of having to constantly swap out your light bulbs, but they also make for great design, thanks to emitting a white hue and light in a specific direction.
5. Choose Wisely:
With so many home buyers and sellers doing their own cosmetic makeovers, it makes sense to pick materials that are as sustainable as possible. Whenever possible, use local vendors to supply your products as well, this will keep $$’s infused into our local economy.
Fortunately for the environmentally-conscious buyer, there are a ton of eco-friendly flooring options that will suit any taste. Popular options include concrete, cork, bamboo, linoleum, tiles made from recycled glass, wool carpet, reclaimed hardwood and even rubber flooring made from recycled tires.
Paint it Clean
Conventional paint is full of chemicals like organic solvents, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, mercury, propylene glycol and glycol ethers. Next time you decide to give your home a new look, try eco-friendly paints instead, which don’t contain harmful chemical pigments and are made from natural raw materials. Some eco-friendly options to look out for are milk paint (often used as a finish for wood furniture), chalk paint, ceramic paint and linseed oil paint.