The U.S. generates 5.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, which come from activities like powering appliances or heating your home. In addition, carbon is released when building materials, such as concrete, are manufactured.
The overproduction of carbon can lead to air pollution and increase global warming. These emissions also disturb natural habitats and cause extreme weather events, so it’s critical to create low-carbon housing to protect the environment. Eco-friendly homes have personal benefits as well. They can make your home more comfortable and save you money.
How to Create Low Carbon Homes
All contractors should get a LEED certification. It’s a third-party program for building design, construction and operation. It ensures builders follow environmentally friendly practices, such as water conservation.
One of the important factors for low-carbon houses is their size. Smaller ones use less energy, reducing your carbon footprint. A good size property for one person is around 1,000 square feet. In fact, tiny homes are becoming a popular trend — in 2017, sales increased by 67%.
Besides the economic benefits, smaller homes allow people to downsize and require less maintenance. Photovoltaic panels (PV), which use sunlight to create electricity, can also help reduce carbon emissions. PV boards use renewable energy, producing less fuel, and lower your electrical bills.
Use Eco-Friendly Resources
Another important factor is the building materials used. In fact, 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from materials and construction. Contractors should use natural resources, such as wood, which is a renewable source that provides better insulation. Just make sure it’s sustainably harvested.
Wood is eco-friendly and can increase the value of your home. Hardwood flooring, which is popular in kitchens and living rooms, can provide a 70%-80% return on investment. Bamboo, cork and recycled steel are other sustainable options.
Adding insulation is essential once the residence is constructed. It absorbs warm air during the summer, so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard. Running it more often wastes electricity. An average space heater uses about 1,500 watts of energy, which is another energy waster. Besides environmental benefits, insulation keeps the interior temperature comfortable and lowers energy bills.
Use simple shapes during the design phase to make it easier to add insulation. Also, use the insulation values to help determine how much heating equipment you need. While many people rely on load calculators, these aren’t as effective.
Home Upgrades That Reduce Your Carbon FootPrint
If you want to make your current home more eco-friendly, start by sealing your windows and doors. Air can escape through the cracks and waste energy, and they also cause drafts in the winter. Use caulk or weatherstripping to enclose the openings. Upgrade to energy-efficient windows as well, such as double-glazed options.
Installing a heat pump is another effective way to lower carbon emissions. It works by taking heat from the outside air. They only use about one-third as much electricity as electric heaters, so you can power your home while wasting less energy. Heat pumps also produce warm and cool air, saving you from buying two separate systems. They also require less maintenance and can improve indoor air quality.
There are other everyday tasks you can do to reduce carbon production. During the summer, cool down with fans instead of cranking up your air conditioner. Also, heat water with a wood stove and air-dry your clothes.
If you want to spruce up your backyard, planting trees can help shade the sunlight and lower the temperature. In the winter, the bare trees let in more natural light. Plus, they can enhance the home’s curb appeal and increase its value, as well as absorb air pollutants and runoff water.
Benefits of Low Carbon Housing
Low carbon housing is critical in protecting the planet, and reducing emissions can slow the spread of climate change. Residential properties play a significant role in carbon production, so it’s vital to make improvements.
About the author: Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co