Building a new home can be a very challenging, expensive, and time taking process. Not only do you have to hire people to help locate, plan and build it, but the sheer difficulty of sourcing the right suppliers for material is what makes it daunting. One would think that building an eco friendly house would be even more challenging, but in reality, it’s easier than we think. Here are 7 simple tips on how to build an eco friendly house without burning a hole in your wallet.
Choose a location with a balance of shade and sunlight
The reason why I’ve not opted for a complete shade is that it would rule out the use of solar panels. One of the best ways to make your house more environmentally friendly is to install solar panels, but since they are pretty expensive, having a location that wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a future installation is the next big thing; setting up the right foundation before planning for the future (Check out my article on things to consider before installing solar panels).
That being said, too much sunlight is also bad for the house, since that would mean your house would be at a constant boiling temperature without the thermostat on full all the time. Having a shade would help reduce the amount of heat entering your home, keep your home cooler, and therefore reduce the amount of time the thermostat needs to consume full power.
Choose a greener location
One of the key tips on how to build an eco friendly house is to choose a location that generally has more greenery surrounding it. There are several benefits to having a greener location than living somewhere with little or no grass around. Firstly, the greenery would allow for cleaner, fresher air to circulate around the house (which, quite frankly, is very rare to find these days!).
Secondly, it would provide the shade you require for your house to remain cooler. Trees on the sides or the back of the house can offer shade at certain times of the day, allowing your home to remain cooler. Lastly, having greenery around your new house would help aid serenity thereby reducing stress, as increased greenery has been directly related to reducing stress, increasing productivity, and improving quality of life by the Wageningen research institute in the Netherlands.
Protect the vegetation around you while building
Just because you’ve chosen a greener location for your new home doesn’t mean you start to cut it all down to make way for your new home. Every bit of vegetation is important, not just for your new home but also for the planet overall.
Most trees are also home to various species of animals, birds, and insects essential to a balanced ecosystem. Unnecessarily cutting them down would lead to the disruption of the ecosystem and sure displacement of several beings who relied on those trees for food and shelter.
Therefore, it is best to plan to build your new eco friendly house by keeping in mind minimal damage to the vegetation around, as it will help both you and the animals residing nearby.
Use eco friendly alternatives to new PVC
PVC is a very common material used while building houses, often as either insulation, or pipes, or both. However, PVC is also one of the most dangerous plastics around, as it contains heaps of phthalates, lead, and cadmium. When under heat (such as a small fire), the PVC can release these toxins into the air in huge amounts. Breathe these fumes for a couple of minutes and you’ll be fighting for your life in the Hospital a few moments later. PVC is a type 3 plastic, meaning it is also not recyclable (Although some recycling plants do practice recycling PVC, it is very expensive and has a high risk of releasing toxins into the atmosphere, therefore it is rarely practiced).
A more sustainable alternative to PVC is PLA. PLA is a material made from corn, and with lower CO2 emissions along with the lack of oil used during manufacture, PLA has gained immense popularity among the general public as a favorable alternative to plastic. Pipes and insulation made from PLA are surely more sustainable than their dangerous counterparts.
Properly ventilate the Upper portion
Whether your home has a flat roof or a gable, the upper portion of your house is certainly going to be considerably hotter than the ground floor, simply because it’s going to be exposed to most of the sunlight. Therefore, if you want to build an eco friendly house, you should make sure to have proper ventilation for the upper portion of your house.
Ventilation can be as simple as adding additional vents to release the trapped heat or can be a more comprehensive ventilation system for better performance. Either way, depending on your budget, you should always look to reduce the amount of heat trapped in the upper floors of your house. Doing so will help keep your house cooler and reduce the need for constant air conditioning, thereby saving electricity that can be utilized elsewhere.
Use LEDs for lighting your house
This is a definite no-brainer. Regardless if you want to build a more environmentally friendly house or any building for that matter, you should always look to buy LED bulbs instead of fluorescent bulbs or (god forbid) incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs consume a mere fraction of incandescent bulbs without compromising on luminescence.
Unlike Incandescent Bulbs, the soft light of the LEDs allows for a more serene look to your home, and with the increased mass production of LEDs over the past several years, they are pretty cheap to buy too. LEDs also last much longer than filament bulbs, so that means fewer trips to the hardware store, as well as the reduction of broken bulbs being thrown away in the landfills.
Install sanitaryware that doesn’t waste water
Faucets and toilets in the bathroom are used several times a day. Water leaking from the faucets and the toilets can be a problem, and having them fixed by a plumber can be an expensive job. Even if your bathroom doesn’t leak, every time you flush the toilet it sends gallons of water down the drain even when it only needed a fraction of it.
Investing in higher quality sanitaryware can be a good way to ensure that your bathroom (and hence, your home) is eco friendly. Not only are they guaranteed to last longer, but also waste less water than your ordinary sanitary fittings.
For example, a dual flush toilet can be a great choice to save water, which can give you the freedom to choose the amount of water you want to flush with. Less water wasted means saving a precious resource and a lower water bill; it’s a win-win!
Building an eco friendly house is not any more expensive than… well, building a regular house! You don’t have to go berserk and spend a ton of extra money, in fact, simple things such as choosing the right location, proper ventilation, and using the right energy-saving bulbs are probably the best ways to build an eco friendly home. Not only do they help save the environment, but also save you long-term costs so you can invest in ways to become more environmentally friendly at your new home.