As an ASHI Certified Home Inspector, our focus is always on items which are not functioning in the way they were intended. To most people that means simply not working or broken. The truth of the matter is that a house may be performing poorly and have numerous, health related issues and energy wasters, while not falling into a category of having non-functional components. Two primary focuses that I want to highlight are:
1. The components of a home or building must all work together in order to provide a safe, healthy and comfortable environment. If one component is not functioning properly then others cannot. This is known as Building Science.
2. There are many improvements or repairs that can be made to almost any home or building that will improve indoor air quality, energy efficiency and durability that by definition may fall outside the scope of a routine Visual Home Inspection.
One of the main functions of my Inspection is to document not only the condition of the home and installed components, but just what those components are and how old they are. By looking at these components with a “green eye”, I am in the position to point out where improvements can be made and potentially what benefit can be gained, whether it is saving money, improving indoor air quality or even reducing the home’s environmental impact. Home Inspections have always been an opportunity to educate people. We now have the opportunity to take that one step further and educate them in a “Green” manner.
Do something good for your family, your pocketbook, and the environment. Make your home a little greener. A few changes in your house can go a long way to combat both high energy bills and global warming. To be green, you’ve got to be efficient.
1. Solar hot water heating: get up to 70% of your hot water needs from the sun, through fitting a solar panel to your roof.
2. If your windows need replacing, ENERGY STAR qualified windows can cut heat loss through the windows by 50%.
3. A dripping hot water faucet can waste enough water to fill a bath in one day alone. Make sure faucets are properly turned off or replace washers if necessary.
4. Save water by putting a flush saver, in your toilet tank. Please note: you will need to ensure the toilet is not already a low capacity type as problems could arise with the drainage system.
5. Don’t leave the faucet running when brushing teeth – this wastes 2.64 gals of water each time.
6. Have a shower instead of a bath and you will only use only two-fifths of the water.
7. Turn the thermostat down on your radiators if you are too warm and up if you’re too cool. Changing it 1°C can save you up to 10% of your annual heating bill.
8. Remember to turn off your PC and monitor when they are not being used. Leaving your PC on can waste huge amounts of energy. Here is a link to howstuffworks that discusses it. howstuffworks
9. Pot plants in your home can help to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals your PC or printer release into the air. Some of the recommended air-cleaning indoor varieties are: peace lilly, dracina, mother-in-law’s tongue, English ivy, Chinese fern, parlour palms. If you have more light then choose spider plants or flowering plants (eg. chrysanthemums, azaleas).
10. Avoid leaving appliances such as televisions, videos, computers and even cordless phones on “stand by” or “charging” when not necessary. A TV left on standby is still using 80% of its power.
11. Try using energy-saving light bulbs or CFLs, they last over 10 years and use up to 75% less energy. LED’s are now even better. They cost a bit more but the price is coming down. Consider these bulbs a fixture of the house as they last much longer.
12. Always turn off lights when you leave the room.
13. When painting, use a Low or No VOC paint. This paint is low in volatile organic compounds and has lower odor. This improves indoor and outdoor air quality and allows you to reoccupy a room sooner.
14. If replacing a water heater consider a tankless model which eliminates waste by only heating water on demand. And because it heats on demand, you’ll never run out of hot water again.
15. Air leaks around a house accounts for 20% of the energy used to heat & cool a home. Seal gaps and leaks.
16. Replace your thermostat with an ENERGY STAR qualified one if it is not already. This can reduce greenhouse gases and your energy costs.
Below are listed a few links for additional information about Living Green
Green Verified Homes – Green Verified Home for Sale Nationwide as well as information about Green Building
The U.S. Green Building Council – USGBC