Common wisdom over the past few years seems to be if it’s good for you or good for the environment, it’s going to cost you. Organic foods are more expensive, energy-efficient bulbs and appliances are going to come with an eye-popping markup over their less-green counterparts.
That doesn’t always have to be the case, though, especially when it comes to your home. Green living is often smart living, for the environment and your wallet. If you’re looking for a new home in Asheville, be on the lookout for green features that are already there or places where you can easily renovate once you move in. Knowing how much you’ll save on utilities can help put your mortgage payment into perspective.
Save on Utilities with Green Appliances
An infographic from Esurance shows the average American household spends over $7,000 annually on utilities and household operations. They say you can cut $1,000 off that bill with some easy green improvements. Of course, the high-dollar solution is to invest in solar panels and geothermal heating. That may be difficult, especially if you are buying an older home with strict preservation or HOA guidelines, or if you’re just on a tight budget.
- Energy Efficient Kitchens: The kitchen eats up energy like a hog at a trough thanks to appliances that use electricity andwater to function. Of course, there’s also the refrigerator, an always-on appliance that is pulling from the grid whether you’re at home or not. A low-flow faucet aerator attachment can save 3,500 gallons of water and 410 kilowatt-hours every year. Look into replacing appliances with Energy Star models, which typically use less energy and mean big savings each month on your electric bill.
- Bathroom Fixes:The bathroom has some of the same problems as the kitchen: high-resource use, and a daily necessity to their use. Esurance recommends a tankless water heater and low-flow toilets to cut down on those costs while also reducing wasteful water usage. The reservoirs will thank you!
- All around the house:Those are the big ones, but the bedrooms and living area can also be a serious issue. Energy Star ceiling fans, LED lights, and a smart thermostat are easy fixes that can be added to any home with a low upfront cost and serious savings over the life of your home.
Insulation Helps You and the World
Insulation is an essential for any home in Western North Carolina. Insulation improves your home’s resistance to heat flow, which will help with your heating and cooling costs all year round. It also makes your house much more comfortable to live in.
Many homes have fiberglass insulation, which is effective at insulating a home, but isn’t the greenest or safest alternative. Fiberglass insulation production requires ten times the energy as other alternatives like cellulose insulation. Fiberglass insulation also has some troubling links to skin and respiratory irritation. If you’re building a new home, green insulation isn’t much more expensive than fiberglass. If you’re undergoing a serious home renovation, it’s not a bad time to look into green solutions either.
Of course, you don’t need to rip down the walls to improve insulation. You can upgrade your windows to energy-efficient models, even in historic homes. You don’t need to rip out the whole window, either—contractors can often replace old glass panes with energy-efficient ones while still maintaining the original frames.
You can also keep your costs down with blackout curtains. These will keep rooms with prolonged sun exposure from overheating. These rooms will require less energy to keep cool in the summer months and be more pleasant for you to sit in.
Choosing the Right Materials
Green building materials are often more affordable and more visually appealing than their not-so-green counterparts. It is definitely worth asking questions about building materials, especially if sustainability and efficiency matter to you. Of course, if you’re going into a fixer upper or working with a contractor you can be choosy and pick all the latest in green building tech.
Love hardwood floors? How about bamboo? Bamboo floors look incredible, are easy to maintain, and are cheaper than hardwood. These trees grow faster than other trees used in lumber production, making them the more sustainable option as well.
If you want to have an even smaller ecofootprint, look for reclaimed wood and brick. Many companies salvage materials from tear-downs for sale. You might even get lucky and find a contractor who will give you materials at a reduced price (you’ll probably have to pick them up from the site yourself, though). Reclaimed materials are the greenest option around, saving perfectly fine material from a landfill while creating an absolutely gorgeous talking point. Who wouldn’t want to brag to their friends that their living room is finished with authentic barn wood from the 1800s?
Buying and Building Green in Asheville
As you’re probably already aware, Asheville is known as a town that is in touch with nature. Many people who live here strive for a more harmonious relationship with nature, whether it’s through weekends spent camping or a neighborhood composting project. That means there are a lot of green homes on the market, green contractors ready to build, and fixer uppers that are a solar panel and a rain barrel away from being the greenest house on the block.
Whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s a move-in-ready new construction, a classic bungalow in need of some love, or some property where you can build your dream home, the Keller Williams Asheville team is here and ready to help.
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