Have you heard? Green is the new black when it comes to home building and remodeling. The many benefits of green homes to homeowners, communities, and the environment make going green an even more popular choice. But for many, it’s a choice rife with confusion. There are so many green products and technologies on the market now that it can be hard to know which ones to include in your green building project. How do you even start?
It helps to consider that going green is, at its heart, less about technology than about mindset. In particular, it’s about switching from a short-term to a long-term outlook about three important aspects: your finances, your health, and your power to have a positive impact on our environment. As you plan your new home or make improvements to your existing home, keep in mind how your decisions affect these three aspects.
Here are some suggestions that will help you determine how best to make the switchover to a greener home:
Know your priorities: Ask yourself what it is about going green that attracts you. Be honest, because your answers here will help you create a strategy that you’ll be happy with. For instance, if long-term financial stability is the most important thing for you, pay close attention to financial payback on the green investments you make. On the other hand, if your primary reason for going green is to have a healthy home, you may be less concerned about payback.
Write down your goals: Make them as specific as possible. For example: “I want to cut my energy bills by at least 50 percent,” or “I want a home that will allow me to breathe freely and not trigger my asthma,” or “I want to know that as many parts of my home as possible can be safely recycled or composted when the time comes to replace them.” Prioritize your goals, numbering them from most to least important. Your priorities list will make it easier to communicate with contractors and to choose which materials and technologies to include in your green home.
Prioritize your belongings: Our “supersized” modern lifestyle doesn’t always make us happy. Keep in mind that less is often more when it comes to green. Many homeowners find that paring down to a smaller home and/or less stuff doesn’t just result in a smaller environmental impact—it can also free space and time to enjoy what really matters to you.
Think long-term: It helps to remember the difference between value and cost. When possible, go for long-term value. This means choosing highly durable materials and components that won’t have to be replaced for a long time. You will also want to consider the long-term savings of investments that pay back over time. For instance, installing a solar PV system will contribute to a worry-free retirement as well as keeping tons of carbon out of the atmosphere for decades to come.
Once you get the hang of it, switching to a greener mentality becomes second nature. You’ll likely be surprised how easy it is, and once you start enjoying the benefits of your new green home, chances are you’ll find yourself making greener, healthier, and more financially responsible choices in all areas of your life.
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