Small Homes Yield for Sustainability & Affordability
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The last thirty years have seen an explosion in technological advancements. Luckily, the ability to access information almost instantly has also led to a greater awareness of our place on the planet and the importance of protecting and preserving the...
The last thirty years have seen an explosion in technological advancements. Luckily, the ability to access information almost instantly has also led to a greater awareness of our place on the planet and the importance of protecting and preserving the environment. Many people are interested in reducing their carbon footprint and like most grass-roots movements, environmental sustainability begins at home.
A home is the largest investment most of us will ever make and one that is meant to last a lifetime. In the past people often purchased as much house as they could afford and the size of one’s home was seen as a status symbol. With the growing awareness of environmental responsibility that trend seems to be reversing. Smaller homes not only take up less space, they are also more energy efficient and less expensive to heat, cool and light -- using less natural resources in the process. Limiting interior spaces also means limiting the things needed to fill them, cutting back on purchases of consumer goods and furniture.
Buy or Build?
If you are interested in an environmentally friendly home, you may want to look into building one from scratch. Modular, prefabricated or kit homes are available that are manufactured with “green” materials and processes. These homes are usually small and relatively inexpensive and they come complete with many modern energy-saving innovations. Buying and upgrading an existing home is also a viable option. The environmental impact of renovating an existing home can be less than that of new construction.
Smaller homes are easier to clean, and you can increase the environmental benefits by using “green” cleaning products and supplies. Several companies offer organic products including household cleaners and laundry detergents. Utilize common household products to save money and the planet. Vinegar and water with a drop of dish washing detergent effectively cleans surfaces and glass. Baking soda mixed with a little lemon juice works as a scouring powder on bathtubs and sinks. Pick up a package of inexpensive cloth diapers and reuse them for regular cleaning to reduce your dependence on paper towels.
The Great Outdoors
The image of a perfect suburban home surrounded by a lush green lawn is another idea that is beginning to fade. Lawns are thirsty and largely decorative. They also require treatment with harsh pesticides and herbicides to maintain. Many homeowners are re-purposing their lawns as organic vegetable gardens or replanting with hardy native plants that require little or no watering or care. If you must keep your lawn, consider using an electric mower or weed trimmer, or better yet, an old-fashioned people-powered push mower and get a great workout while cutting the grass. If you have a swimming pool, invest in a solar cover to heat the water naturally. Upgrade to a salt-water filter to reduce or eliminate the use of harsh chemicals.
“Greening” your home will be an ongoing process as the coming years bring new and better innovations. Smaller homes are the first step to an environmentally friendly future.
- This guest post is courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate Company, Agents for New York Homes.