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home>>family>>home & decor 3>>green from the foundation up

Green From The Foundation Up


(ARA) - Environmental consciousness among our government, businesses, communities and even children is at an all time high. In fact, there's a new word at the center of this growing awareness: sustainability.

Sustainability deals with our present needs while protecting natural resources and the quality of life for future generations. All across the country, sustainability practices -- such as local recycling and carpool programs -- are being developed and implemented so that our neighborhoods and open spaces remain clean and pollution-free.

But did you know there are a multitude of things the average consumer can do, from the foundation up, to make their own home more sustainable? With technology increasing at a record pace, there's no better time than the present to take advantage of the increased options available to make your home more "green."

If you're in the market for a new home and want to fully embrace the green lifestyle, then the Glidehouse might be just what you're looking for. The Glidehouse is a prefabricated home that offers a multitude of eco-friendly materials and options, such as solar and wind power, in addition to your standard electrical hookup.

"The Glidehouse was designed to be an affordable, low-maintenance option for those who desire an energy efficient home," says the architect who designed the home, Michelle Kaufmann of Michelle Kaufmann Designs. "Building a Glidehouse results in very little waste. It also uses renewable and recyclable materials, such as bamboo flooring, combined with efficient fixtures such as a tank less hot water heater and low-energy fluorescent lighting. This truly is a viable housing alternative that helps the environment."

For those not quite ready for such a major change, there are still some positive steps one can take to make their home more green.

Simply change your light bulbs. When you use energy-efficient light bulbs, you're saving yourself energy, money and time. Replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescents, or CFLs, is an easy way to conserve energy and you also save yourself the hassle of having to buy and change your light bulbs more often than necessary. If every American home replaced the five lights they use most with CFLs, they would save enough energy to light more than 34 million homes for an entire year.

The Energy Star rated 13-watt Daylight Extra Mini Twist from Sylvania can be used almost anywhere in the home where you have a standard incandescent bulb. It can last up to 8,000 hours with normal use, which is nearly eight times longer than a typical bulb. Daylight Extra CFLs also produce a whiter, brighter, more natural light.

Don't flush too much water -- and money -- down the toilet. Believe it or not, your bathroom can use nearly 75 percent of the water consumed in your home. Since 1992 when changes were made to water usage laws, toilets have steadily decreased how much water is flushed away to only 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF). As a result, it's estimated that Americans collectively now save $11.3 million everyday on their water bills due to the 1.6 GPF standard. Many cities and local governments have also instituted free low-flow toilet replacement or rebate programs. Contact your local city council or department of public works to find out about upcoming replacement events.

Sterling, a brand of Kohler Co., recently introduced its new Rockton toilet with what it calls Dual Force flushing technology. Combining water savings with efficient flush performance, Dual Force allows consumers the option of selecting two different water levels each time the toilet is flushed: 1.6 gallons, the federal standard, or 0.8 gallons. If used routinely to remove light or liquid waste, the 0.8 GPF option can save a household of four up to 6,000 gallons of water per year over today's 1.6 GPF toilets. It's also very easy to select which option you want to use by simply pressing down on the two-button lever integrated into the tank lid.

The average family of four does seven loads of laundry a week. This translates into a lot of water and energy being used. One of the easiest things to look for when buying a new washer and dryer is the Energy Star label, which means that the appliance meets the strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy.

Bosch, a company also known for their energy efficient dishwashers, currently manufactures the Nexxt Laundry System featuring a front-loading washer that can clean a full load using as little as 10.6 gallons of water. This is three times less than conventional top loaders and can result in savings of approximately 12,000 gallons of water a year. The key to this performance is the horizontal drum which lifts and drops clothing into the water, instead of rubbing clothes around a central agitator. In addition, an intelligent sensor system constantly monitors and adjusts the water level, wash time and energy consumed according to load size. Overall, this had led to the Bosch system earning the highest efficiency ratings from environmental watchdog, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency.

Whether you choose to buy a Glidehouse or make the above changes, you can make your home and lifestyle more environmentally sustainable today and for the future.

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Courtesy of ARA Content
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