This week, we’re focusing on livable green home design. Decorating the inside of your home with cool, stylish, eco-friendly products is a smart step for everyone, no matter whether they’re in an urban apartment or a rural rancher. But if you’re about to build your own home, giving a little thought to green design takes the beauty of green to a whole new level.
Building a sustainable home isn’t just about more insulation and better windows. A truly green home takes in the whole picture. You can make any house more energy efficient, and you can decorate any home in sustainable style, but if you’re dreaming of building from scratch, why not dream in green? Starting with sustainable materials and green home design are key elements of course. But there are a few elemental choices that should be considered as well; some of these hints can even help green-up an existing structure. Take a look!
No matter what your location, there are parts of your building site that gets more sunshine than others. Be smart about the way you orient your home – in cooler climates, face windows toward the sunny side to gather more energy and warmth to contribute to winter heating (and natural light). Consider how you’ll arrange living spaces to take advantage of that light as well. This is also a great time to think about solar panels.
In warmer climates or summer time, those same sunny windows can be a liability that makes your air conditioner work harder than it needs to. Using insulated and reflective windows will help, but take it a step farther with smart shading. In winter, the sun’s angle is lower, while in summer, the higher angle allows overhangs, awnings to block the harshest sun. Add deciduous trees and you’ll have warm sun in winter and cool shade in summer. Now that’s smart!
Wind chill doesn’t just affect humans, it hits houses, too. Windows and doors are the biggest culprits, so place them away from winter winds. The windiest side is a great place to locate utility rooms, garages, closets and other places where windows and natural light aren’t important. Another trick is to create a wind block with an earth berm and a thick stand of evergreen landscaping to help reduce how much wind hits the house.
The tiny house trend is big for a reason. Smaller houses use less energy. Done right, a smaller home can actually be more livable than a larger one. Most big houses are full of underutilized space. Think about your daily life and exactly how you use your space and design your home to meet those needs. Are there spaces in your current home that you rarely use but are heating and cooling anyway? Design for the life you live.