Building and Landscaping Greener Homes

Green homes are homes and yards that are designed to be friendly to the environment. They use energy and water in an efficient manner and utilize materials that are durable, renewable, or recyclable. In addition, materials and products such as the paints that are used in green homes should be non-toxic or low in toxic chemical content, and they should have little impact on animals, plants, and human health. There are a variety of environmentally friendly choices when it comes to materials for building homes. These include recycled plastics, wood, glass, tile, and metals such as aluminum, which are useful for doors, walls, floors, and windows. There are also green choices when it comes to roofs and roofing materials. These options include slate tiles, which can last for 100 years or longer, plastic shingles, and reclaimed wood. Metal roofs are another option, as they are eco-friendly and recyclable.

Reducing a home's electricity usage is one of the most important issues in designing a green home. Solar panels are an example of an expensive yet effective way to generate electricity for the home without using fossil fuels. Installing high-quality insulation that is suitable for a home's climate zone will also reduce electricity usage. Windows are another very important factor in terms of energy efficiency. Energy Star-certified windows reduce the amount of heat that is transferred in and out of the home, providing higher-quality insulation. Windows with multiple panes and that use non-toxic argon or krypton gas between panes offer even better insulation and more energy savings when it comes to climate control. Skylights allow the sun's light to enter the room during the daytime and reduce or even preclude the need for electricity-powered lights. Landscaping also helps increase a home's energy efficiency. Planting trees for shade is an example of passive solar landscaping, as they can block the heat of the sun during the day and reduce the need to use electricity for air conditioning.

Water conservation is another major consideration in designing and building a home. To conserve water, homes should have low-flow toilets that use less water for flushing than traditional toilets. Showers can also be a huge source of water consumption and should be fitted with low-flow shower heads with shut-off valves. Landscaping is a major potential source of water waste, especially when it comes to lawns. Planting vegetation that is native to the local environment and climate will reduce the need to use extra water to keep the lawn looking beautiful and healthy. Succulents and other drought-tolerant plant species, for example, are better suited for arid areas than regular lawn grass. When planning for a garden with vegetables, drought-tolerant plants will also help save water. Examples include but are not limited to eggplants, peppers, sweet potatoes, winter or summer squash, and cucumbers.

Homes with lawns and small gardens can also benefit from composting. Plant-based food waste such as coffee grounds and unused vegetables as well as grass clippings and eggshells can be recycled into compost and used to create soil. This will reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers. Soil created from composting retains moisture, making irrigation less necessary, and its superior nutrient content cuts down on the risk of diseases in the soil. Landscaping maintenance can contribute to composting due to the recycling of raked leaves and other yard waste. Composting has the added benefit of cutting down on the need to haul yard waste and food waste to landfills.

Composting and Landscaping

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