Eco-friendly home is today a buzz word. There are developers offering eco-friendly homes; then there are accommodations who call themselves eco-friendly and also a huge range of home furnishings, appliances, etc. that promise you a greener home.
So whether you are planning to build a vacation home or wanting to make your existing vacation rental an eco-friendly one here are some tips you can use:
1. If you are building a new vacation house, try to construct a pyramid or round top. This will help conserve heat, which will keep your house cool, naturally.
2. When you are buying building materials, be sure to buy those that are locally produced, natural and non-toxic. Local materials and building techniques don’t necessarily translate into boring spaces. The same goes for furnishing. Ingenious furnishing and interior décor practices can introduce a sense of style and panache to even the most drab houses.
3. Improve the air quality inside your house by choosing paint and wood material that allow your house to breathe. Opt for wooden flooring. It is natural and keeps the temperature in check. Bamboo is another good option, since it is environmentally friendly and looks good too.
4. Have more or larger windows to let in more natural light and air. It cannot be any ultra-green than to be reading a book in your bedroom in natural light rather than under a reading lamp.
5. Conserving water is also an important aspect of constructing an environmentally friendly house. Invest in a rain water tank so you can reuse this water to do your laundry, water the plants or even flush the toilet.
6. Use a combination of green and white, for painting the outer walls of your home. It not only looks good, but also helps your house maintain more or less an optimum temperature since both colors exclude coolness. Also use organic pains for your house as the regular ones contain toxic metals and volatile organic compound (VOC) among other chemicals that can adversely affect your health in the long run.
7. If you have a lawn, grow as much grass as you can. Choose from the many variants that grow easily and are maintenance-free. Grass helps in keeping the surface cool, thus bringing down the temperature. The same goes for planting trees. Plant trees around the house strategically, shading the air-conditioning units of your home if possible to save electricity on cooling and heating.
8. For owners of vacation homes who want to make their properties greener or eco-friendly buy eco-friendly appliances/ products. This will go a long way in cleaning up the environment at your home. Refrigerators, microwaves, air conditioners, heaters, dishwashers are the appliances that eat up more than several hundreds of dollars as electricity bills. However, you can do your part to help the planet and also save up to 30 percent of the electricity bill by using energy efficient products that have the ENERGY STAR symbol.
9. Leave instructions besides appliances for guests to make maximum use of the appliances. Request them not to use the washing machine to wash just one pair of jeans. The same goes for the dishwasher.
10. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). These use 75 percent less electricity and last 10 times longer than standard bulbs. Since CFLs use less power and have longer life, they can your first step towards a green home.
11. If you are about to buy a barbecue grill, go for the gas barbecue grill instead of the usual charcoal barbecue grill. For the amount of fuel needed to run a barbecue for an hour, a gas grill emits 5.6 pounds of carbon, while a grill using charcoal pumps 11 pounds of carbon into the air.
12. For outdoor lighting use solar lights. There are not only available in a wide range of contemporary styles, they are easy to install and are highly maintenance free.
13. To power your holiday home faucets with hot running water, opt for solar water heaters. Although these heaters cost a little more than the usual electric water heaters, they are just one-time investment and you can reap the benefits for many years to come.
14. Keep eco-friendly cleaning products at your holiday home and encourage both your housekeeping staff and guests to use them too. An easy way to reduce damage to the environment is to use cleaning products that are biodegradable and have low toxicity levels. These products could also make your home safer, as the lower toxicity might reduce the chance of accidental poisonings. So buy solvent free or bio-based products such as those made with citrus or pine. Make use and encourage using natural cleaning products like vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice to clean your home.
15. Reuse and recycle things that can be done. Don’t throw away old magazines. Place them in nooks and corners for guests to read. I just visited a holiday home where the owner had kept old magazines in good condition in several places – some of them even from the early nineties. Even flipping the glossy pages and to see favorite stars so much younger is a good way to keep guests engaged.