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9 Upgrades for a More Environmentally Friendly House

9 Upgrades for a More Environmentally Friendly House

By California.com
September 01, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe. 

Living in California has its perks when it comes to environmental sustainability—the national leader of green technology is now promoting a new set of building standards with CalGreen. Whether you’re following the statewide trend of going green, looking to invest in fiscally frugal long-term solutions, or wanting to find new ways to reduce your carbon footprint, you can join the environmental movement and have a more positive impact on Mother Earth by making certain upgrades to your home.

What makes a home eco-friendly? 

Save the planet and simultaneously improve your physical and mental well-being by creating an environmentally sustainable home.

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There are many aspects of planning and designing a home: location, size, purpose, and—most recently—eco-friendly materials. According to the GreenPoint Rated Program of the nonprofit organization Build It Green, an eco-friendly home should meet certain requirements on energy and water conservation, indoor air quality, sustainable building materials, and community benefits. Thanks to the many options available, you can start your project of living in an eco-friendly home today.

9 Eco-friendly upgrades for more Sustainable Living

Make your yard look beautiful while improving air quality by planting trees and a drought-resistant garden.

Regardless if you’re building your new home or planning a major home makeover, an environmentally friendly house is an achievable goal. Here are some ways to make a home more sustainable.

  1. Install solar panels—in addition to the solar incentives offered by the government, you can save up to 50 percent on your electricity bill while protecting the planet from harmful emissions.
  2. Swap out your conventional light bulbs for LED lights to minimize your greenhouse gas emissions. Bonus: You'll save yourself the trouble of frequent replacement, thanks to the LED light bulb’s extraordinary lifespan (up to six times longer than conventional ones). 
  3. Upgrade your house into a "smart" home so you'll have better control of light and energy consumption.
  4. Hit the yard sales and thrift stores for your next interior remodel. Furniture doesn’t have to be brand new to look nice and be comfortable. 
  5. Choose environmentally friendly cleaning products. Pay attention to each product’s sourcing and packaging to get a sense of its impact on our planet. Pick local and biodegradable soaps and liquids.
  6. Add secondary glazing to your windows and glass doors for better acoustic and heat insulation. Add blinds to reduce air conditioning costs by preventing direct sunlight from entering and heating up your house.
  7. Consciously harvest rainwater to lower potable water consumption. Use additional treatments for the rainwater to become safe to drink.
  8. Plant trees and a drought-resistant garden to improve air quality, reduce water usage, and shade your house from direct sunlight (again, lowering energy consumption).
  9. Pick nontoxic primers and paint from AFM Safecoat to ensure your home has a healthy environment. 

Additional sustainable-living Tips

In addition to making eco-friendly upgrades to your home, make sure your produce is organic and locally grown.

Once you go green with your home, you'll notice there are other ways to make small improvements. Here are some extra ideas to get you inspired:

  1. Avoid synthetical scrubs with microbeads, and opt for DIY scrubs with coconut oil, ground coffee beans, and brown sugar. 
  2. Purchase fresh produce from local farmers by ordering California CSA boxes
  3. Eat less meat and more organic veggies (livestock farming creates up to 50 percent of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions).
  4. Recycle and upcycle when it comes to clothes, household items, and furniture.
  5. Reduce your overall consumption—think twice before purchasing that new T-shirt.
  6. Leave the car at home and use a bike to run errands.
  7. When you can, take public transportation. 
  8. Switch to an electric vehicle to enjoy more eco-friendly road trips. (California offers EV incentive programs, too.)
  9. Unplug your devices when they're not in use.
  10. Unsubscribe from unwanted mail.

Eco-friendly home designs

Regardless of your design style, you can create an environmentally friendly home that satisfies your preferences and needs.

If you're building your environmentally friendly house from the ground up, keep in mind a few design styles to find one that best meets your needs. Get inspired by the following examples, and don’t forget that your comfort is far more important than following trends. 

Prefabricated homes

Blu Homes makes modern, high-quality, and affordable prefabricated houses. Photo courtesy of Blu Homes.

Move into your new prefabricated house from Blu Homes within three months after ordering. These unique homes start at $195,000—way less than building a comparable custom home. Plus, the production of your new home reduces material costs by up to 80 percent, and the built-to-ship construction system is more durable. 

Find where you want to have your custom home in the Golden State, and Blu Homes will handle the rest. Thanks to its innovative design to decrease energy and water consumption, a Blu home will save you up to 50 percent on your utility bills.

If you end up wanting to sell your prefab home later, it's not a problem: Blu Homes are “rated green,” so if you resell it in the future, you'll make a higher profit in comparison to non-environmentally-sound homes in the area. 

Container Homes

Unwind in your environmentally sound master bedroom curated by AB Design Studio. Photo courtesy of AB Design Studio.

Reuse the durable material of shipping containers while staying true to your style. Contact AB Design Studio to begin planning your sustainable shipping-container residence. Construct your home from these containers and add insulation, floor-to-ceiling windows, and smart lighting systems.

Incorporate your favorite plants into the interior design plan for higher indoor air quality. Further reduce your carbon footprint by using green energy, upcycled patio furniture from The Hungarian Workshop, and doing some eco-friendly shopping at California-based home decor boutiques

Tiny Homes

Pick a plot of land to live on, and move into a tiny home to save on space and adopt a more minimalist, eco-friendly lifestyle.

Sometimes, sustainability means simply reducing your impact by consuming less. Many people are opting for tiny houses that require fewer materials, so they can live in harmony with nature and lead a minimalist lifestyle. Less is more—leave behind the clutter of a big house, buy fewer material items, and free your mind.

Get rid of unnecessary rooms, furniture, and appliances to save on maintenance costs and energy consumption. With fewer distractions at home and more free time (you won't need to spend hours cleaning a tiny house), you'll be able to spend more time in nature. 

Plant-Covered Homes

Cover your house with plants for improved air quality, noise-level reduction, and peace of mind.

Follow the urban trend, and incorporate a green roof and green facades into your home. Covering your house with moss, vines, and other native plants will help improve air quality. You'll also make a profit—thanks to your new living wall cooling off the air (evapotranspiration) in the summer and acting as an extra layer of insulation during the winter. Not only do you save on energy, but the living walls' structure also reduces noise levels so you can enjoy a good night’s sleep. 

No matter which style you choose, draw inspiration from your surroundings—California’s lush forests, tall mountains, vast deserts—and use what’s at hand. Designing an ecologically friendly house requires creativity, but you'll soon be on your way to having a more positive impact on Mother Nature. 

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