A Greener Spring

By Chelle Cordero

January 2, 2009 5 min read

A GREENER SPRING

There are plenty of ways to make your house eco-friendly

Chelle Cordero

Creators News Service

"Green matters. Boy does it ever -- indeed, forever. In fact, if we don't take green matters into our hearts and mind and hands, the consequences for our planet are a considerable shade darker," wrote Martin Melaver, the CEO of Melaver, Inc., in his introduction to "Green Matters: The Residential Builders, Visionaries, Communities & Lifestyles Shaping Atlanta's Landscape" ($16, Michael Eastman and Jill Elizabeth Westfall).

A "greener" home will substantially reduce the waste of natural resources, save the homeowner money on utility bills and help to protect the future.

This goes beyond simple recommended maintenance such as detecting and repairing leaks. Homeowners have begun to use inexpensive low-flow aerators, taken steps to lower overall water pressure and are installing water displacement devices.

Many manufacturers have responded to the demand for water and energy savings. Green fixtures for the bath and kitchen include water-saving faucets, toilets, energy-efficient dishwashers, low-energy lighting, and environmentally conscious kitchen and bath accessories.

"Green is a set of habits, an outlook on life, a qualitative paradigm change in one's consumption practices, a political ideology, an ethical philosophy, a spiritual reorientation," Melaver wrote.

STOP WASTING RESOURCES -- AND MONEY

"In most homes, toilets consume the most water -- usually between 25 percent and 33 percent," Robert Zimmerman, a senior staff engineer for water conservation initiatives at Kohler, said. "That's the reason toilets were mandated to go from 3.0 or more gallons per flush to 1.6 gallons per flush in the Energy Policy act of 1992."

In order to meet federal guidelines and still meet customer expectations for comfort and utility, Zimmerman explained that their design department must constantly work to refine flow, or flushability, trapways and overall contours. One of the innovative technologies that Kohler offers is dual-flush toilets, which offer a light flush (0.8 gallons) or full flush (1.6 gallons) depending on immediate need.

Shower heads with low-flow aerators can save as much as one-third of your shower water usage. Inexpensive aerators, which can cost as little as $2, or elegantly designed units are relatively easy fixes. A good showerhead will feel like it delivers the same cleansing water force that even an unmodified unit offers.

Low flow aerators can also be installed in bathroom and kitchen sink faucets. Combined with good common sense, homeowners will be able to see immediate savings in their water bills as proof of efficiency. Making sure that your home's overall water pressure is reduced will also help to reduce water usage as well as maintenance of water pipes and control valves.

Another way to go green is to replace traditional bulbs with new energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs in your kitchen and bath lighting fixtures. These bulbs use an average of 75 to 90 percent less energy and create less heat.

When it comes time to replace your older and less serviceable appliances, be sure to look for high-performance and energy saving appliances and fixtures. Look for appliances, faucets and lighting fixtures that are labeled with Energy Star or WaterSense labels to know that they meet federal regulations for conservation.

Even newer homes are going green. New home construction has to meet minimally accepted standards and many developers are improving on these home principles. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System helps to signify high performance "Green Buildings."

STEPS TO GREENER LIVING

"Small steps can deliver big savings," said Tom Kraeutler, host of the nationally syndicated The Money Pit home improvement radio show. "The cool thing about improving your efficiency is that you can do it in small steps. Unlike a project like, say, installing a new kitchen, it doesn't have to overwhelm your life. There are dozens of small projects that you can do to make your home more energy efficient."

One thing is for sure: Green isn't going away. "It's not a fad; it's a game-changer," Kraeutler said. "Almost every major company today is looking for ways to improve sustainability. Resource management makes good economic sense, and it's good for the environment. So I believe it is here to stay. What will change are the labels. We'll stop calling energy efficient homes 'green' because in 10 years they won't be special. Green will just be the norm."

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