Top 10 Green Remodeling Technologies
The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH), a group managed by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development, has compiled a list of their top 10 technologies for a green home remodel. Some of these technologies are easy weekend projects, others are more suited to a major home renovation.
Seal Air Leaks
Caulking spaces around doors & windows, and other openings in your walls will reduce cold air leaking into your home during the winter. Adding to insulation in your walls will also make a big difference in home comfort and energy use. Sprayed-in foam or blown in cellulose insulation are good options to insulate your walls.
Smart Ventilation & Control Systems
Old style ventilation systems would either run constantly or run on a timer, regardless of whether or not they were needed. New HVAC technologies employ sensors to determine building humidity and other factors, and initiate air exchanges when necessary. This improves the existing efficiency of Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs), reducing energy needs and enhancing indoor air quality. An improvement on this could be the addition of room occupancy sensors to increase ventilation when there are more occupants in a building.
Proper Heating, Ventilating And Air Conditioning Sizing
Oversizing your HVAC equipment is a common practice, following the belief that bigger is better. This isn’t the case with furnaces and air conditioners, as they may be kept running outside of their peak performance range. A good HVAC contractor will be able to size your equipment for your average use, to ensure you don’t get a unit that’s too under or over powered for your needs.
Low Flow Toilets
Modern low-flow and dual flush toilets in full flush mode can reduce water consumption up to 20% over standard flush toilets, and dual flush toilets up to 50% in low flush mode. This reduces your water consumption and also reduces the load on your area’s sewage treatment facility. If you are on a septic tank system, this will reduce the load on your leach field. A better optionmight be a waterless composting toilet such as the ones from Envirolet, however many areas don’t allow composting toilets yet.
Compact Fluorescent Lights
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) are a very common green upgrade for homes, because they use between 50% and 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs of the same light output. Good quality CFLs will last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs as well. The key to doing this economically is to replace what you use most often; if you have an incandescent bulb in a closet you only switch on for a few moments each year while you pull out the Christmas decorations, don’t bother replacing this bulb until it burns out. Replace a light used more often.
High Performance Windows
Old windows are one of the biggest sources of heat transfer in a home; in terms of both losing heat during the winter and gaining excess heat in the summer. Look for windows with a low U-value, for the most efficient windows. High tech coatings are also available to block heat transfer. look for Low-E2 or Low-E3 windows for the highest performance.
Wireless Lighting, Thermostats And Other Controls
Smart control technologies make it easy to save energy, while making your home a more comfortable place to live. Wireless technology makes it easy to retrofit into an older home.
Solar Hot Water
Perhaps the biggest “bang for your buck”, a solar water heater can reduce your energy demands for water heating by 50% or more. Combined with an on-demand water heater for showers, this can result in a substantial energy savings over a more traditional hot water storage tank system.
Old growth wood is far superior than new wood in terms of both durability and beauty, and the best source for this wood is old buildings. Recycling or reclaiming building materials allows for the use of old growth wood for floors, without destroying any current old growth forests. Renewable flooring is another option that has become available in recent years; bamboo, cork and eucalyptus are as durable and attractive as traditional hardwood, and are fully renewable. Check the sources for the flooring however, bamboo flooring loses a lot of it’s green factor if it has to be shipped from China.
Tubular skylights are a great way to introduce natural light into a building without having a large hole in the roof for a traditional skylight. Some types of tubular skylights using fiber optic cables allow light to penetrate down into other levels of a building, even as far as a basement. This allows for natural light in spaces that would otherwise require electric lights, while preventing the heat transfer and potential leaks that occur with conventional skylights.