My Kind of Green, Dream Home

By Joanne Loos Posted in: ImproveThe Fix is In

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Every now and then, the scrapbooking bug bites me. Sometimes I scrapbook to save memories, but I also like to clip and save ideas for the future. There’s something incredibly indulgent about dreaming and planning. A magazine hoarder at heart, I often clip and save articles and pictures for future holiday, wedding and baby shower presents, outfits, meals and, of course, my dream home.

My dream home isn’t without its indulgences: his-and-her bathrooms and closets, furniture I’ll probably never afford and a spacious, drool-worthy kitchen. But it’s not without its practical points, too: handwritten recipes featured as art, salvaged-wood tables and energy-saving features. Yes, my wish list includes a home that doesn’t tote a huge electric bill and that also doesn’t hurt the environment. Green home upgrades extend beyond photo-voltaics (which use the sun to create electricity) and can be found in every area of the home.

In the kitchen

ENERGY STAR® appliances are a must, but an induction cook top doesn’t hurt, either. Unlike traditional cook tops, induction varieties heat only the pot or pan. This means there is no heat transfer from the cook top to the pot, which also means the air around the pot remains cool. This cuts down not only on potential burn injuries but also on cooling costs.

In the bathroom

On-demand water heaters can cut down on both water and electricity use. A traditional water heater heats a large supply of water, holds a reserve (and uses electricity to maintain its temperature) and then releases the water to faucets around the home. An on-demand heater on the other hand, is installed under the sink. It heats water only when needed, eliminating the need for maintaining water temperature in between use. Plus, because it’s installed beneath the sink, there is no need to run the water before it gets hot.

In the bedroom

Ceiling fans work wonders. They’re more efficient at cooling a room than a standing fan, and they use drastically less electricity than A/C. If A/C is a must, opt for ENERGY STAR® units.

In the living room

Skylights brighten up any space. Natural light costs nothing and can enhance physical wellbeing. Have a second story above your living room? No problem. Tubular lighting uses reflectors and a tube to carry natural light into rooms without direct roof access.

Green upgrades will not only save on precious resources, they can also bank some tax credits. In fact, the American Taxpayer Relief Act was just extended through 2013. Check out www.energytaxincentives.org for more.