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Trendy Ideas for a Green Home

If you’re thinking about renovating your home or replacing appliances, why not make choices that are good for the environment? Going “green” doesn’t mean sitting with the lights off or downgrading your lifestyle. Often it means making beautiful, sophisticated upgrades that work more efficiently. Check out these trendy ideas that conserve natural resources, utilize recycled materials, and save water.

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Solar Powered Appliances

Utilizing solar energy is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. You have a few options for going solar:

Solar panels:

The most fundamental option is to install solar panels. Choose the system size you want and start putting the limitless solar resource to work, powering your lights, air conditioner and anything you plug into the wall. With a large enough array, you can completely offset your electricity costs. Ultimately, you save money, reduce coal consumption, and decrease the country’s dependency on foreign oil.

Solar attic fans:

Proper attic ventilation is important to keep your home more comfortable, prevent mold growth, and sustain your roof’s structural integrity. Adding an attic fan is a great way to increase ventilation. A solar powered attic fan lets you enjoy the benefits of a properly ventilated attic without increasing your home’s electrical consumption.

Solar water heaters:

Water heating is one of the biggest contributors to your energy consumption, second only to heating and cooling. You can offset up to 80 percent of that energy by powering your water heater with solar panels. It’s an affordable upgrade that really increases your home’s “green” factor.

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Recycled Building Materials

If you decide to renovate the kitchen or bathroom, or replace the flooring in your home, carefully consider where you obtain your building materials. Plenty of green options are available:

Recycled countertops:

By choosing recycled materials, you re-use resources instead of harvesting new granite or quartz. Vetrazzo countertops are made from recycled glass and Portland cement. The material is resistant to high heat, moisture, chemicals and mold, but all you’ll be thinking about is how artistic and one-of-a-kind your countertop looks.

Paperstone is another option made from 100-percent recycled paper. Compressing the paper and adding resin and natural pigments results in an end product that looks very similar to soapstone. It’s non-porous and easy to clean for a bacteria-free kitchen.

Recycled tiles:

Recycled glass isn’t just for making countertops; you can also find attractive glass tiles for your kitchen backsplash or shower wall. Recycled tiles also come in metal, clay, rubber and stone.

Reclaimed hardwood:

Instead of demolishing old structures and sending perfectly good wood and other building materials to the landfill, a careful reclaiming process gives you the chance to put secondhand wood to good use in your home. A little sanding and a fresh coat of stain will leave you with a wood floor full of character without needing to cut down additional trees.

Water Conservation Efforts

Any time you can save water, you reduce your bills and help the environment. Two trendy water conservation efforts include:

Low-flow fixtures:

Sometimes, high water flow is a good thing, such as when you want to fill the tub or washing machine quickly. However, when it comes to the sink and shower, low flow is ideal. Lowering the flow of water doesn’t mean losing water pressure. In fact, many aerated faucets and showerheads give the impression of higher water pressure by jetting out water with tiny air bubbles. This way, you enjoy a luxurious shower while conserving water at the same time.

Rain gardens:

The water that flows through the plumbing in your house isn’t the only water you need to worry about. There’s also the rainwater that runs through your yard. One great way to prevent heavy rainfall from eroding the soil and picking up pollution on its way to local waterways is to install a rain garden. This is a shallow depression in your yard filled with flowers and shrubs native to your region. Native plants provide ecological value by catching water runoff to reduce street flooding and promote cleaner waterways.

Efficient appliances:

Your washing machine, dishwasher and water heater are largely responsible for your water and water heating bills. When an appliance reaches the end of its lifespan, choose the most efficient replacement possible. You’ll enjoy high-end features, better performance and lower water consumption for a greener home.

 The more of these trendy ideas you can implement, the more eco-friendly your home will become.

 Author Bio: Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, one of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest residential solar energy companies.