Green Buildings


I remember the house I grew up in where in the back yard there was an old crab apple tree. A crab apple is just a mini-apple that worms seem to love. As I grew older I realized the tree seemed kind of useless. The apples falling off the tree were worm ridden and the soil where the apples were left to rot was getting too acidic for anything to grow. The verdict was to cut down the tree and make way for the new. The appointment with the axe man was March.

After cutting down the tree there was a sort of celebration. The smell was gone and green life forms were starting to appear on the ground once again. Then summer arrived, and the back of the house reached temperatures of 110 degrees. The siding began to buckle and the back door began to warp. So the reason that old tree had been there for all those years was as a shade for the back of the house, to protect it.

Too often we believe environmental solutions, especially the not-so-obvious ones, need to be complicated. But nature is simple, and designing a home that is politically correct green can be just as simple. Moreover, it can save you money on your heating and electric while reducing the pollution that comes from your home. A reduced carbon footprint is always good.

Solar energy is cheap and reliable, especially if you have a storage system in the attic of your home. Depending on the political climate, installing solar panels to be used to heat water and provide electricity for your home may earn you a tax credit on next year’s tax return. Depending on where you live, the supply of sunlight offers a way to make a short-term investment that will give you a environmentally sound return for many years to come.

Landscape design is one method of combining cost savings with an environmentally friendly design. As above, if you live in an open area where the sun directly hits your home, particularly during the afternoon hours, consider planting a tree in the path between the sun and the house to reduce your cooling bills and add another tree to clean the air.

Reducing the carbon footprint of your home can be done inexpensively with a few select technological devices. One of the simplest is the timer that you can connect to power outlets that lights are plugged into. Turning the lights off when you are not expected to be home will save you money on electricity. But setting the timers to create an illusion of someone being home is also an added home security feature.

Even though natural gas supplies are abundant and at some of their lowest pieces in decades, saving money on heating your home can be done by installing a digital thermostat that has a timer in it. Often there are rebates available so that you can pay almost nothing to purchase the thermostat. Reducing the temperature of the home or specific rooms when not in use will save you between 3 and 4 percent on your annual heating bill, while reducing the use of greenhouse gases you produce.

Both small and large, there are many more ways you can make your home environmentally friendly and green.