As the twenty-first century progresses, homes are becoming more high-tech and automated. While we haven’t quite reached Star Trek levels of technology in our homes yet, we at Home Improvement Leads think one of the best things about advancing technology in the home is the rapid development of products and materials that help save the environment. Eco-friendly residential design features like solar panels, energy efficient windows and appliances, and sustainable building materials help homeowners do their part to reduce carbon emissions while saving them money at the same time. Here are just a few of the latest eco-friendly home design features you may find in homes like yours in 2017.
Building integrated photovoltaics
Every year, more Americans are taking the leap into solar power for their homes. Renewable energy is important for several reasons, including the reduction of carbon emissions given off by traditionally designed buildings and our energy-heavy lifestyles. The latest technology in residential solar power includes photovoltaic panels that are built into the roof itself, making them less conspicuous and offering a more fluid design. Energy powerhouse Elon Musk of Tesla has just introduced a range of solar roofing tiles that will soon make its way into the product catalogs of solar providers throughout the country, changing the face of solar as we know it.
Another advantage of using renewable energy in the home is the ability to store any extra power collected by solar panels to be used later. In addition to producing an innovative solution for solar panels, Tesla has also introduced a second version of its Powerwall—a solar battery for the home—in order to help make homes self sufficient. Solar batteries like these store unused solar energy and can be used to power the home for an extended period of time, making them perfect for off-grid living and eco-friendly homes.
New homes in particular have seen an upswing in the ultra-sustainable form of building design and construction known as net-zero energy. The goal with net-zero energy buildings is to produce as much energy as is consumed and to have no outstanding carbon emissions. This is accomplished through a variety of environmentally friendly and low energy use practices, including passive solar design (taking into consideration factors such as house direction in relation to the sun and natural shade), sustainable building practices and materials, and the regular use of a renewable energy source.
Sustainable building materials
Now more than ever, homeowners are choosing locally sourced, sustainable building materials for home renovation projects and new homes. These considerations not only lower the carbon footprint of a building project but also help the local economy at the same time. As noted above, choosing sustainable products and materials is one of the first and most essential steps in the net-zero energy building process and will instantly increase your home’s eco-friendly status.
Eco-friendly roofing materials
While thinking about the energy efficiency of materials used to construct your home seems straightforward, homeowners often forget to take into consideration the type of roofing their home has and its impact on the environment. Metallic and tile-based roofing materials and light colors can keep your home cooler in the summer by reflecting the sun’s rays, while heavier materials such as asphalt and fiber cement can withstand colder temperatures and give an insulating layer to your roof in the winter. Homeowners who really want to embrace an environmentally friendly lifestyle may opt for a living roof—which is covered in vegetation—to reduce their carbon footprint, blend in with their natural surroundings, and regulate the temperature in their home.