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green

You’ve probably noticed this topic popping up a lot recently, and for a good reason. With all the consequences of global warming that we’re already experiencing, reducing our negative influence on nature is more important than ever before. Of course, there are many ways to do it – some simple, some a bit more demanding, but the best place to start is at your own home. With that in mind, here are a few ways to make your home more energy efficient.

Insulate your home

For starters, you want to make sure your home is well insulated. Otherwise, you’d be letting out a lot of heat through the walls and windows during winter, and it would take a lot more energy to keep it cool during summer. In other words, your utility bills would be much higher than necessary due to using more energy to keep your home’s temperature at a comfortable level. There are many different insulating techniques, some of which you can even do on your own, like putting up thicker curtains during winter. Also, if you have an attic and/or basement, don’t forget to insulate them as well, as a lot of warm and cool air can escape through the roof and floor.

Install quality windows and doors

window

A lot of heat and cool air can escape through windows and doors, especially if they are older types, as some of them are not very energy efficient. This is why you should invest in better quality ones. For example, you can find good double glazed windows, and be sure that no air, hot or cool, would escape through them. The same goes for doors. Even though wood is the most typical material for doors due to its price, convenience, and cozy appearance, it’s a very poor insulator. There are many better options on the market, so do your research before you choose. Finally, you can always do some weatherstripping and tinting of your windows as well.  

Choose better lighting

home lighting

Most of the typical light bulbs that you see are incandescent, which means that they emit light because they are hot. This also means that while using them, you are inevitably heating up your room, which is probably the last thing you want to do in summer. It’s one of the reasons why, even though they are fairly cheap, they actually cost you a lot more in the long run. With that in mind, you should consider switching to either LED lights of fluorescent lights. They cost a bit more initially, but they last a lot longer, and they don’t emit any heat, so it’s a small investment that would pay off in time.

Replace old appliances

If you want to make your home more energy efficient, you should also consider replacing your old kitchen appliances. Look for those with the Energy Star logo on them, as they are made to use a lot less energy than the standard appliances. Also, just like the above-mentioned lighting, these appliances do cost a bit more, but again, they would pay off in the long run through your utility bills. You can find lists of essential energy efficient products for your home online. 

Think about solar panels

solar panels

If you want to go the extra mile, you can harness the sun and create your own electricity by installing solar panels. It can greatly reduce your bills, and it can come in handy in case of a power outage. You can install them on your rooftop, or you can install the whole system in a sunny area of your backyard. They aren’t that difficult to maintain, but they do require regular maintenance if you want them to last longer. All in all, they aren’t for everybody, but if you’re determined in your preservation of nature, solar panels are something to consider.

Install a smart meter

Installing smart meters is a great way to track your energy usage. They are easy to install and use, and they can give you a good idea of how much energy you’re using and how you can cut on that use. Also, since a smart meter would send the readings directly to your energy supplier, there would be no need for any manual meter readings. Also, your supplier would know exactly how much you need to pay instead of sending you estimated bills. Finally, it would also be easier for you to change your energy supplier for whatever reason. All in all, it would allow you much more control over your energy usage.

If you care about the environment, you should do whatever you can to preserve it. One thing you definitely can do is make your home more sustainable. There are many ways to do so, both affordable and costly (but worth every penny). Therefore, think about the listed suggestions, opt for those that suit you the most, and you’re bound to feel much better about the difference that you’re making.

Guest post by Will Sandford.

Green home improvements have become one of the most popular remodelling projects on the design scene. Whether it comes to renovating the interior, installing new features or even decorating your space, it seems that green reigns supreme. There are actually more than a few excellent reasons why eco-friendly and sustainable improvements are the most sought-after on the market.

A positive impact on the environment

Let’s start with the most obvious benefit of green home improvements – preserving the environment. Making your home greener can actually contribute to environmental preservation in a variety of ways. You can help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by going green and installing a renewable energy system in your home. For instance, an Energy Star home produces 2000 kg of greenhouse gases less than a regular home. You can also relieve pressure on finite resources by reducing your water consumption and using recycled or salvaged materials for your home improvements. Consequently, implementing sustainably sourced natural materials and reused materials also contributes to reducing waste. All of these benefits can make a valuable contribution to environmental preservation, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.

modular home

Numerous opportunities for increased savings

A great number of homeowners opt for green improvements because they can help them increase their savings in the long run. For instance, energy efficiency is one of the most important aspects of a green home that can help you reduce your energy bill. You can boost your home’s energy efficiency by installing a solar system, introducing Energy Star-certified appliances, installing energy-efficient windows, or switching to energy-saving lighting, such as LEDs. You can reduce your electricity bill substantially or even completely if you break off from the regular electrical grid.
Furthermore, you can also save money on your water bill by installing water-saving features. From low-flow toilets and faucets to water-saving outdoor irrigation systems, there are plenty of ways to conserve water in your home.
Finally, green homes are also more durable due to the use of high-quality materials, appliances, and other features. This reduced the need for frequent repairs or replacements, which provides you with another opportunity to increase your savings.

home improvements

A higher return on investment

Many would argue that green improvements are more expensive than regular ones. Although this is generally true, they are actually an investment worth making and they will pay for themselves. Green improvements offer a high return on investment, enabling homeowners to recoup their initial costs. In addition, there are numerous grants and incentives for homeowners who decide to go green, especially on a larger scale. For instance, when it comes to solar panel finance, you can find a program that will provide you with 100 percent financing without any down payments. Furthermore, some states and utility companies may even pay you or provide you with some discounts in terms of your bills for the excess energy you generate and return to the grid. Thus, you can easily find a financing option that will help you pay for your green home.

business meeting

A healthier and more comfortable home

Improving your home through green remodelling projects will also prove you with a healthier and more comfortable space. Sustainable materials and green solutions aren’t treated with toxic chemicals, which means that they can’t pollute your indoor air through the process of off-gassing. For instance, you can use VOC-free paint and products to give your interior a fresh, healthy look. Furthermore, eco-friendly homes feature a lot of greenery, including potted plants, green walls and roofs, vertical gardens, and outdoor green surfaces. Since plants act as natural air purifiers, they can help you increase your indoor air quality.
Green homes are also thermally more comfortable because of their high-quality insulation. Homeowners pay special attention to the insulation of their homes to prevent air leakage and energy wastage. This provides them with air-tighter homes and a more stable indoor temperature, which creates a cosier, more comfortable home environment.

home improvements

Increased home value

Owing to the range of benefits that green home improvements offer, they are typically the most profitable ones on the market. Green homes are among the most popular types of property in real estate and a great number of buyers would rather pay more for them. Thus, going green will not only provide you with the aforementioned benefits, but it will also increase the value of your home on the market. If you ever decide to sell your home, you’ll be able to recoup your initial investment.

house with solar panels

Thus, when remodelling your home, you should go with some of the most profitable eco-friendly improvements. For instance, replacing your old windows with new, energy-efficient ones will provide you with up to 70 percent ROI. Proper insulation is another profitable green improvement that you should consider. Installing a smart thermostat or an eco-friendly water heater will also attract prospective buyers. Finally, if you decide to go solar, you may increase the value of your home by even $18,000.

Green improvements will provide you with numerous benefits, including a healthier and more comfortable home, increased property value, and numerous savings opportunities. On top of all that, they will also help you make a valuable contribution to environmental preservation.

Keeping in touch with nature is in essence of our being. However, sometimes it can be quite hard or even impossible thing to achieve while living in concrete building apartments and urban areas that most of us call home. Here are some tips and interesting solutions on how to reconnect yourself with nature by redesigning your interior.

Plants


Embrace the nature in your home by surrounding yourself with plants. Bringing in as many plants as possible is a great start, they will instantly make your home atmosphere feel more natural. You can group them to make the place feel like a garden or even let them hang from the ceiling to give a more natural flow to your space.

Sunlight and air


Throw away your curtains. The quickest and cheapest way to feel immediate nature in your home is to let the sunlight and fresh air in. Sunlight and fresh air are good for our well-being, as they bring the balance between serotonin and melatonin levels in our body. Increased oxygen level will keep you well energized during the day as well.

Wood


Even though plastic, metal, rubber or some other fabricated materials can sometimes be cheaper or more practical solutions, tend to own wooden things, from wooden beams and hardwood floors to furniture and kitchen utensils, you can even mask you air conditioning system with wood.

Stone

Installing a stone wall in your living room can make a big difference when it comes to the overall feeling of natural atmosphere and biophilic mindset of your space. It’s astonishing how something so hard and cold can translate into such a warm and inviting interior feature made of a natural element.

Water fountain

Having a water fountain producing a smoothing and relaxing sound will have a strong impact on your daily activities and will make a great and interesting décor for your living room as well. Owning a Zen fountain will give your space an immediate organic and natural look.

Other natural elements

Placing seashells and pinecones is a great way to fill up empty spaces on shelves, coffee tables or even window sills. Use leather and cotton items as much as possible, seagrass will serve the purpose as well. These small and cheap details serve as excellent and easy on the eyes décor while embracing the presence of natural environment and coziness in your space.

Colors


A great alternative to surrounding your space with natural elements is using colors that will evoke a natural mindset. You can achieve that by using dark green or gold brown for a forest look or deep blue mixed with beige for a relaxing and calming ocean-and-sand-beach view. It’s well known that colors have great influence on our psychological state and these will have a satisfying and relaxing impact on you and your home atmosphere.

Art


Reduce the anxiety and stress level by hanging nature-inspired pictures on the walls. Looking at landscapes, animals, mountains, ocean or some other natural scenery and forms will give a strong feeling of tranquility and peacefulness to your home.

Natural shapes

Straight lines and right angles are not usually found in a natural environment, so try to avoid them as much as possible. Fuzzy rugs, cushions and pillows can soften up your space and bring more curvy and round look to your home.

Wallpapers


Yes, it’s fake but choosing a nature-inspired wallpaper will definitely do the job. Bring your walls to life by covering them with bamboo, ocean, landscape, tree or mountain wallpapers.
Biophilic design can reduce stress and anxiety, enhance creativity and bring tranquility and peacefulness to your home. As the world continues to urbanize, these qualities are becoming more and more important and are essential for our well-being. Introducing some of these small changes will embrace the nature in your home and it will have a strong psychological impact on you and your space.

As an increasing number of people are starting to incorporate eco-friendly, planet-conscious notions into their everyday lives, the demand for environmentally friendly products and eco services is constantly growing. It’s not hard to do your bit for the planet, and with a little bit of thought and working with the right business, you can quickly achieve a well-decorated, eco-conscious home too. Looking for some inspiration? Look no further.

The healthiest and the best way to relax after a hard-working day is in your own garden. You don’t have to pack your stuff and travel afterwards, like you would when you go to the beach, for example. Just come home, take a shower and simply collapse onto your cozy furniture in your garden.

There are many ways you can arrange your garden. What kind of plants and flowers, furniture, fountain, lake and trees you will use, it is all up to the individual desires. If you can imagine it, you can make it. Here are some of the trends you should have in mind when creating your very own peaceful oasis.

Image source: www.flickr.com
Image source: www.flickr.com

 

Monochromatic Gardens

When it comes to colors, trends in garden are shifting from colorful flowers and complementary color combos to more corresponding or even a single-color schemes. So, instead of combining yellow and red flowers, choose ones in different shades of orange. Also, the colors used in furnishing and fabrics should be sophisticated and subdued – earthy tones such as gray, forest green and taupe would be a perfect choice.

Image source: www.flickr.com
Image source: www.flickr.com

 

Green walls

This is not a novelty anymore, and it gains on popularity each day. It may seem very complicated to build at the first glance, but once you get into it, you realize it is not that hard at all. You can find instructions on how to build one anywhere online.

You can choose where to put your green wall, outdoors or even indoors. The best place for it is somewhere you spend the most of your time, so you can fully enjoy it. You can insert plants of any kind, your favorites, as long as they can sustain in your climate. It does not only look beautiful and exotic, but you will also gain many benefits from it, like fresh air, energy saving and even noise reduction.

Image source: tuverde.com
Image source: tuverde.com

 

Echo-chic

As you can guess, it is eco-friendly trend. Even though any garden is eco-friendly, this one takes a step further. It is not only about having plants, but plants and flowers most preferred by birds for their nests, and bees for pollination. Also planting vegetables, and using containers that require less watering. The furniture should be made out of wood and eco-friendly materials. Try to use home-made fertilizers, soil mixes and pest-control products. Simply tend to make everything develop naturally.

Image source: www.flickr.com
Image source: www.flickr.com

 

Fairy gardening

Fairy gardening is still popular as it was before, if not even more. These are simply adorable, miniature, terrarium-sized gardens. They are filled with miniature plants, statues and rocks, even miniature fountains and lakes in some cases. You can really play around with these and there are numerous things you can buy online related to fairy gardens. It is also up to you where you want to install it. Whether you want it to be the shining star of your outdoor garden, or you want it inside the house, to refresh the air and please everyone’s eyes all the time.

9179436631_b9e4f21d28_o
Image source: www.flickr.com

 

Well-lit gardens

The time of gardens without the light has passed, and now people tend to build them well-lit. There are, of course, both, up and down sides of this. If you build it well-lit, it allows you to spend even more quality time there, reading at night for example, or simply enjoying various colors of your plants, but also if you want to work on your garden when the sun goes down. The biggest, and probably the only, down side is that the light attracts insects of all kinds.

Image source: homemydesign.com
Image source: homemydesign.com

 

Gardens in small spaces

This is one of the biggest problems nowadays- too many people live in big cities, in apartments, without proper space for building a garden. If you really want it, there is always a way to make it happen. It can be built in any small space, even small as balcony. All you have to do is to well manage the space you have. You can use all the space for furniture, for example, and find a way to hang your plants and flowers all around you. Green walls, hanging flowerpots and even fairy gardens really come in handy here. It offers an amazing feeling of comfort when you are sitting in a small space surrounded by red gerbers and roses, yellow tulips, purple iris or any of your favorite flowers.

There is a solution for any problem you encounter, all you have to do is put your imagination to work and find it. It does take a lot of patience and time, but once you finish your garden, you can enjoy every detail of it for the rest of your life. You can just add, improve or change things later on.

 

The concept of sustainable building primarily involves the harmonious relationship between ecology and economy in order to preserve the natural wealth for future generations. In real life, sustainable construction is based on many principles of which are the most important: reducing the negative impact of the construction site, the integration of renewable energy sources in the design phase, the use of secondary materials in the construction process in order to preserve natural resources, reducing CO2 emissions, reducing energy consumption and generate their own energy.

GT Tower East

http://www.contemporist.com/

One of the most interesting sustainable building is the GT Tower East in Seoul. This skyscraper with its elegant building facade brings a significant change in a very sharp and orthogonal architecture of Seoul. The tower is 130 meters high, and what makes it specific is its pure organic form. Wavy effect exterior creates an optical illusion when viewed from the side of the building. Designers have integrated many sustainability measures such as solar panels to collect energy, a good ventilation system, well insulated facade and lots of natural light to reduce energy consumption and to make pleasant working environment.

The Hearst Tower

http://inhabitat.com/

Another interesting and sustainable building, the Hearst Tower in New York. This 46 stores high tower is the first commercial building that has won LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council. Building meets the highest level of the sustainable construction requirements. It is made from 90% recycled steel, with fascinating ventilation system, heating that can be adjusted on each floor. There are light and humidity as well as the VOC and CO2 sensors installed. Next to these fascinating features, the building has a rainwater-collection tank and the water is mostly used for the air conditioning system and watering plants

Pixel building

http://futuresparks.org.au/

There is another example of architectural environmental solutions in Australia known as Pixel building. The building is a fantastic example of sustainability since it generates all its energy with the help of roof wind turbines and solar panels. It is equipped with a so-called smart window that opens automatically during the night to get enough air ventilated without excessive cooling of the building. In addition, building has its own rainwater harvesting system. The building is made of a special type of concrete, which is called Pixelcrete, which contains half as much carbon than conventional concrete. Pixel is known to be visually attractive because of  the colourful sun shades that are not there just for decoration. They are set to allow maximum utilization of daylight while helping preventing overheating of the room.

TMB building

http://inhabitat.com/

The capital city of Turkey, Ankara is home to Turkish Contractor’s Association headquarters. The outer part of the façade of this building is composed of two layers. The first layer consists of frameless glass to glass and glass to metal panels, while the second layer is made of stainless steel wire mesh. This type of construction gives a sense of connection between the building and its surrounding, while on the other hand limits sun exposure which reduces the temperature during warm days. Many local natural materials were used during construction which decreases ecological footprint. TMB building is also equipped with solar panels and rainwater tanks.

What most distinguishes this building from all the above mentioned is specific air-conditioning system in the form of underground labyrinth cooling system. During the night when the temperature drops, cooled air is stored in labyrinth cells, and is distributed afterwards through the building. On the other hand, during the winter, heat from the soil is used for passive heating of day-time air.