Green Houses Gaining Momentum!

by : Justin Lee

It is getting more and more popular to go green, and many Americans are leading the way in their housing choices. One area recently reported that their realty market was stagnant except for a big rush on newly built homes that came up for sale. They were powered by solar heating and were extremely energy conscious to run.

Solar heating is one smart choice in a sunny area. You will always have hot water to hand and solar power can be transformed into other energy and stored for when you want to run different appliances.

It may be that many of these buyers are trying to help the environment, but one good side effect of going green, is that the running costs will be less once you have set yourself up to be operating an energy conscious home. Heating and cooling systems can account for up to a half of your total energy bill in a non-green home.

One place to read about how to save energy in your home is Energy Star, the government's on line site. Their many tips point out which energy is being wasted and where and how to avoid it. The on line site offers advice and free booklets to send for, and gives dozens of pointers on how to live green and how to build green.

One of the sites on Energy Star give you the top ten tips for finding a good contractor in your area, if you want to build a 'green' house or have a radical make-over.

Of course, there are other small ways that you can save energy and money in your pocket. One of their recommendations is that you stop buying the old-fashioned light bulbs and start buying the new compact fluorescent light bulbs.

These are expensive to buy at first, but on the cost of one light bulb, you can save up to $30 over the lifetime of one light bulb. If you live in a hot climate, you may be pleased to know that they put out less heat, so will also keep your air conditioning costs down. This is a very small change for you to make, yet it does save your cash and the environment.

The local governments and/or the federal government offer a selection of rebates to try and encourage people to become more energy conscious in their homes.

These grants, or one time rebates, can cover several different areas of green living. For instance, if your own state does not offer incentives for you to buy an efficient wood stove or furnace, you may be able to get one from the federal government.

The amount of the grant does not cover the cost of buying a new stove, however, it can save several hundred dollars from the price.

If your are planning to buy a home and have it built for you, remember that many builders will add your requirements in at the end, so therefore it is often easy to ask for preferred green options in a newly built house.

There is also a scheme that is run through the Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM). Under this scheme you can use green building materials and designs and qualify for a green mortgage. You can even get mortgage help from these people if you are only planning to renovate, as long as you will be using green techniques and ideas.

If you want to find out more ideas about how to incorporate environmental considerations into the design, you will get some input from the green site at the National Association of Home Builders (NAH). Their site also includes such simple pointers as planting trees that let light into the home in the winter, and give shade in the hot summers, as well as tips on water conservation, and other reminders.

Some of the luxuries in a home which are not so 'sustainable' are being changed - gradually. For instance granite counter -tops are still fashionable, but buyers will often choose the look a like's made from engineered stone. These are lighter and have not used up large amounts of gas being carted around the country.

Similar 'swaps' are made with hardwood floors and kitchen cabinets. Bamboo is widely used nowadays in homes by people who prefer to use sustainable resources. Bamboo wood flooring looks like hard oak wood floors but it grows in one tenth the time of an oak tree!

Another popular flooring is cork, which feels warmer and softer than ceramic tiles and is also a sustainable source. A bathroom with cork walls and cork flooring always feels warmer due to the slight 'insulating' properties of cork.