What makes a home “green”?
• A “green” home has an energy efficient building envelope.
• A “green” home has energy efficient heating, air conditioning, appliances and lighting.
• A “green” home is built with materials that protect the health of the environment.
For more information see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy website: http://www.eere.energy.gov/topics/homes.html
What home improvements have tax incentives?
• Improving the energy efficiency of your building envelope can earn tax credits.
• Installing geothermal heating and cooling can earn tax credits.
• Installing solar thermal or photovoltaic systems can earn tax credits.
For more information see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy: http://www.dsireusa.org/
Which green design decisions help the environment the most?
• Using less energy and material resources are the most important decisions a person can make.
• Keeping existing building fabric can use far less energy and resources than using new materials.
• Using reclaimed materials can be more environmentally friendly than using new materials.
For more information see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers web page: http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/
What is geothermal?
• A geothermal heat pump or ground source heat pump (GSHP) is a central heating and/or cooling system that transfers heat to or from the ground. It uses the earth as a heat source (in the winter) or a heat sink (in the summer). … Ground source heat pumps harvest heat absorbed at the Earth’s surface from solar energy.
• Geothermal energy is low-tech and provides a great return on your investment.
For more information see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies web page: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/
Should I use solar panels?
• The sun is the most readily available renewable resource we have. Every day enough sunlight falls on the planet to power the planet at our current rate of consumption for 16 years.
• Everyone should evaluate the opportunities to produce as much of their own energy as they can afford.
• Every homeowner can evaluate the life-cycle cost of incorporating solar energy (don’t forget to figure in tax incentives) to see if it works for him or her.
For more information see the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers solar web page: http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/electricity/index.cfm/mytopic=10850
How can I add more insulation to my house?
• Before adding any insulation to your home you must consider 3 things: thermal insulation, air barrier and the vapor transmission properties of your exterior walls.
• It is wise to hire an expert who can evaluate your home’s thermal and moisture dynamics.
• Doing it wrong can cause serious damage to your property
For more information see the Homeowner Resources page of the Building Science Corpration website: http://www.buildingscience.com/resources/homeowner_resources
What products contain formaldehyde and why is it bad for you?
• Any product with glue, such as plywood, particle board, plastic laminate, etc, contains formaldehyde unless it is specifically manufactured and labeled otherwise.
• Moderate exposure to formaldehyde can cause skin, respiratory and liver disorders; chronic exposure can ultimately lead to death.
For more information, see the EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/formalde.html
What is a VOC?
• ”Volatile Organic Compounds” are harmful chemicals which “off-gas” from certain products.
• VOCs are found in paints, varnishes, solvents, adhesives, caulk, carpet, upholstery, vinyl, air fresheners, cleaning products, gasoline and car exhaust, to name a few.
• Short-term exposure to VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, nausea, dizziness and asthma; long-term exposure can cause cancer, and liver, kidney and central nervous system damage.
For more information check out the Minnesota Department of Health website: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/voc/
Is poison the only way to keep bugs out of my house?
• There are safe, non-toxic alternatives to poisonous pesticides.
• Even more effective than poison pesticides are physical and safe chemical barriers which can be installed during construction.
For more information go to the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides website: http://www.pesticide.org/
How can I save water?
• You can save a lot of water by turning off the shower unless you’re wetting or rinsing; similarly you can save a lot of water by only running the water when you are wetting or rinsing your toothbrush.
• You can save gobs of water by not running the water while you load the dishwasher: fill one of your dirty dishes with slightly soapy water, sponge off the dishes in it, and then load them all.
• Planting native species in your garden saves on irrigation.
• Installing low-flow plumbing fixtures saves the most water with the least change in lifestyle.
For more information visit the EPA’s Water Sense web page: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/
Should I consider LED lights for my house?
• Yes! LEDs are more efficient, and last longer, than either fluorescent or incandescent bulbs.
• Considering both lamp life and energy usage, LEDs cost 11% of what incandescents cost, and 47% of what fluorescents cost, to operate.
• LED fixtures have a higher initial cost, which should be factored into the cost analysis.
For more information visit the Energy Star website: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=lighting.pr_what_are
How can I make my new home or renovation “green?”