Environmentally Friendly Housing Options

Reader Contribution by Devin Morrissey

House hunting can be a challenge for anyone looking to purchase a new home. This is doubly true for those looking for an eco-friendly home. Should you look for a new apartment? Smart home? Tiny home?

Below we highlight some of the more eco-friendly options out there so you can make an informed decision on which might be best for yourself, your family, and Mother Nature.

Apartments

While cabin living might be idyllic and seem like the greenest way to go, studies actually indicate that high-rise apartments in cities are far better for the environment.

Research performed by the United States Energy Information Administration indicates that apartment living might be much more eco-friendly than living in a single unit home. In 2009, 19 million people lived in apartment buildings with five or more units, but only accounted for 9 percent of home energy use during that time. That explains why New York City has the lowest per capita energy use in North America.

But not all high-density units are equally good for the environment. If you’re looking to lessen your carbon footprint with apartment living, it’s best to move into a newer unit with updated, energy-efficient appliances, new windows, good insulation, and other amenities that help to lessen energy use.

Tiny Homes

The tiny house movement has created a lot of hype for the past few years. Thousands of people across America have taken advantage of the perks of tiny homes, including a lower mortgage payment, mobile capabilities, and eco-friendly benefits, to become a part of the tiny house community.

Over the course of the past 20 years, neighborhoods have sprouted in Washington D.C., Austin, Sonoma, Olympia, Portland, San Francisco, and more. It looks like the trend is here to stay — but is it good for the environment?

Overall, yes. Tiny houses reduce environmental impact by a significant margin. Why is this?

The average tiny house size is 400 square feet or less, though there are ways to make that space larger depending on the build you choose. The size of the house alone reduces waste in a number of ways.

First, the use of fewer building materials, meaning trees are being saved, fuel is being saved for the transport of these materials, and fewer building resources are used overall. Since the houses are smaller, many of the building materials can be upcycled.

The size also allows owners to use more expensive, environmentally friendly materials in the construction of the home, such as bamboo, cork, palm, natural linoleum, natural paints, etc. Many also choose to make their homes solar powered. Since the roof size is significantly smaller than that of the average house, solar power is much more financially feasible.

Smart Homes

Smart homes have been notoriously touted for the ease of comfort they add to their homeowners’ lives. It’s that same ease of comfort that actually makes them more environmentally friendly.

Smart homes reduce the burden of the resources they require by using them as efficiently as possible. Smart homes have energy-efficient appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment systems, security, and surveillance systems that are interconnected and capable of communicating with each other based on a timed schedule. In essence, you can control any aspect of your house from any room in the house or from anywhere in the world where you have an internet or phone connection.

Naturally, these functions beget energy savings that not only save you money as a homeowner, but they also help save the planet.

Trying to find a place to live that lessens your footprint on the environment is no easy task. With new technology and an increased effort on sustainable housing, more options become available each and every day.

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