There’s often no place like home, although that sentiment can sometimes fade when a house starts to rack up energy bills and breaks down in places over the course of time.
But there are ways to solve those issues with a focus on making a home environmentally efficient, which can cut down on expenses and make it more sustainable as the years go on.
Here are five tips to make your home more environmentally friendly, according to Chris Bolio of Alair Homes Houston.
1. Insulate the entire home, not just the living space.
This includes making sure attic decking and exterior garage walls are insulated.
“By protecting all your home mechanicals and plumbing within your insulation system, you will save energy and your home will be more protected from damage during extreme weather occurrences,” Bolio said.
2. Try to build with concrete and steel.
These materials better regulate temperatures, last longer because of the way they minimize mildew and rotting, and with other construction materials either rising in prices or backlogged in terms of orders, they are more attainable than ever.
“Concrete homes are significantly more energy efficient because of thermal mass,” Bolio said. “They maintain the temperature in the home longer with less energy. This is due to the amount of energy it takes to change the temperature of that mass by one degree, so your house stays hotter longer in the winter and colder during the summer.”
3. Use recyclable/sustainable materials.
Bolio said this can include making beams from trees on the original home site, using reclaimed wood for flooring, tiles and glass, and using sustainable materials such as bamboo or cork that alleviates pressure on natural resources.
In addition, using paints and plywoods that don’t have harmful chemicals can help a home last longer.
“This means making sure you’re only sourcing materials from countries that don’t use harmful chemicals in their products,” Bolio said. “Become more educated and mindful about the types and use of chemicals in all our products.”
4. Use PEX plumbing systems.
Bolio said using PEX piping has countless advantages over traditional copper or CPVC.
“It’s more energy efficient because it only pushes hot water to the rooms in the house you need it (and) can expand and contract without permanently deforming and without failure, which means it lasts longer and will hold up during weather extremes, or summer heat,” he said.
5. Lower your home’s carbon footprint.
Whether it’s using solar power that has become more affordable, a rainwater harvesting system, or geothermal energy systems that use the consistent temperatures of the earth to heat and cool your home by providing heat or acting as a heatsink to cool your home, Bolio said using Mother Nature is usually sustainable and long-lasting for any home.
This story was first published in 2021. It has since been updated.