Archives For Green

There are many ways that consumers can save energy and spend less––adding insulation, buying a programmable thermostat, replacing single-pane windows, and installing a solar water heater, to name a few; however, many homeowners are considering energy efficient mortgages as an alternate way to go green at home.

Energy-efficient mortgages are a great way to maximize efficiency and finance the cost of improvements that will help you save energy. Fannie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Veterans Administration loan program all offer energy-efficient mortgages. Though you may make a higher monthly payment, lenders will not move forward with the project unless they believe your home will net cost savings.

In addition to the financial benefits, energy improvements will also help boost your home’s value. According to the Shelton Group, 81% of consumers say energy efficiency “somewhat-to-very-much” affects their home buying decision.

This post can be found in its original form on US News.

Photo: Inhabitat

Bigger does not always mean better in todays luxury home market as many high-end homeowners are skimping on size to make room for expensive amenities.

In the past, the luxury real estate has been defined by the size of homes, but today many are scaling down on the size. Real estate brokers say more and more clients are shaving off square footage to give priority to sustainability and smart design––including solar power and becoming LEED platinum certified.

For example, last year mortgage banker Heidi Brunet built a 2,085 square foot home in Dallas with extra additives like soy-based, energy-efficient insulation, stained concrete floors, and $48,000 LED lighting system.

Instead of splurging on space in the house, she chose to have a large yard with a 1,000 square foot deck, and a pool because she spends most of her time outside. To Brunet she “wanted the house to be everything I needed it to be and nothing more”.

Architects design  size-conscious homes by removing unnecessary space like formal living rooms, dining rooms, and large hallways. Some regions are also attempting to regulate home size with new ordinances; For example, city planners in Austin, Texas created the 2006 “McMansion ordinance’” which limits floor area to 40% of a lot size. Also, in 2010, Marin County, California required any plans to double homes size more than 3,000 square feet to undergo a design review.

The lesson? A home can still be a dream home no matter the size.

This article can be found in its original form on WSJ.

Photo: Wall Street Journal

It’s no secret that tiny homes have become one of the latest trends in housing and architecture. More frequently, people are finding that downsizing their space is not only more sustainable (and often cheaper), but it can also lead to a less-cluttered, easier existence.

But what do we sacrifice when we give up space? Will living in a tiny home leave us feeling constrained and claustrophobic? Last week, The New York Times featured a 704 square foot Oregon home that proves forfeiting space doesn’t have to feel small.

Lily Copenagle and Jamie Kennel of Portland, Oregon, had a few things in mind when imagining their perfect home: Kennel, who is 6″1, wanted to escape the low doorways and cramped rooms of the older houses they had previously occupied, and Copenagle dreamed of living in a home that wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to vacuum. Their strategy became, “own less, live more.”

$135,000 later (including materials and labor), the result is a one-room home with a wood stove for heating, a green roof, a 550-gallon rain barrel, a huge backyard, and industrial touches throughout.

This article can be found in its original form at The New York Times.

Photos: Aaron Leitz via The New York Times

A Tiny House on Wheels

Househappy —  January 22, 2014 — Leave a comment

At just 240 square feet, Alex Lisefski built this tiny house on an 8-by-20-flatbed trailer. Because he didn’t want to commit to a location or pay rent, he decided to construct his own home using cheap local materials and the help of his friends.

Lisefski, a web designer, has always had an interest in architecture and was very excited to take on the project. The home has all the amenities any other home has from hot water to lights and a stove. He documented some of the process on his website The Tiny Project and uses the site to educate the community about alternative, affordable and more sustainable ways of living.

“Inhabiting such a small space forces me to live in a simpler, more organized and efficient way,” Lisefski said. “I’m forced to spend more time outdoors, in nature and engaging with my community.” He currently shares the home with his girlfriend and their dog in Sebastopol, California.

Sources: HouzzThe Tiny Project

Did you ever think that having less stuff might actually make you happier? In his TED Talk “Less stuff, more happiness,” writer and designer Graham Hill demonstrates the benefits of leading an “edited” life.

Hill explains how less stuff and less space equals a smaller footprint, more money saved, and more happiness. Overall, he believes having less stuff makes you feel more at ease and less stressed. Here are Hill’s three rules for editing your life:

  1. Edit ruthlessly. People need think about whether or not that item will make them happy before they buy it. We need to clear out the things we don’t use anymore and leave the stuff that makes us happy.
  2. Think small. Think about space efficiency and finding items that nest and stack. Digitize what you can to create more space.
  3. Multifunctional spaces and housewares. Buy a small table that can fold out to seat ten, or a toilet that doubles as a sink. Multifunctional spaces

To further the conversation on the benefits of an edited life, Hill founded a website called LifeEdited to show how people can live large in small spaces. LifeEdited sprouted from his desire to transform his 420 square foot New York City apartment into 1,000 square feet of functionality. Hill wanted to be able to hold dinner parties for 12, sleep 2 overnight guests, and have a home office and home theater. With his background in sustainability, he also wanted his apartment to be built in an environmentally responsible manner.

To make his dream a reality, Hill enlisted the help from crowd-sourcing platform Jovoto and marketing firm Mutopo and together they launched a contest to design his space. Over 300 entries were submitted and the winning design came from two Romanian architecture students who helped transform his edited space into a functional, multi-purpose apartment.

Check out photos of his NYC apartment below, or visit LifeEdited to view the complete gallery.

Photos: Matthew Williams for LifeEdited

Sources: LifeEdited, TED

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Considering going green in 2014? Here are 8 cost saving changes you can make to have a greener home.

Check Craigslist and local vintage shops before buying new. Instead of buying all new things, look around at local vintage shops and online to help save money on used items. Keep a wish list of items that you want so you can get into the habit of searching for them every so often, since finding the perfect vintage piece takes time.

Swap one thing from disposable to reusable. Paper towels may be convenient, but not very good for the environment. Replacing them with reusable cloth towels will save you money and space in the landfill. Just buy cheap ones buy the dozen and make sure to put a small laundry basket in the kitchen.

Switch to a deliciously fragrant natural cleaner. There is no need to spray your counters with harsh chemicals when there are many natural all-purpose cleaners out there. Also if you choose one with essential oils, it will make your kitchen smell fresh and not like chemicals. Plus natural cleaners are safe to use around kids and pets.

Leave shoes at the door. The bottoms of our shoes are breeding grounds for nasty stuff, so make it a house rule that everyone takes their shoes off when they enter. This will help keep your floors cleaner longer so you can spend less time vacuuming and mopping.

Rely on natural light during the day. Get in the habit of leaving the lights off during the day to enjoy the natural light. This is an easy change to make and can help you save energy.

Stop using plastic water bottles. If you are in the habit of buying plastic water bottles, it is time to give them the boot. Purchase a water filter and use glass containers to store fresh clean water. This will help cut down on plastic waste and save you money.

Plant a garden. Whether it is a planting box of lettuce, a pot of peppers or a window box of herbs – gardening doesn’t have to take up a lot of your space or time. Start small and enjoy the benefits of eating fresh food straight from your own backyard!

Learn to reuse and upcycle. Before you toss something, think about whether there might be another use for it. Maybe you could use a torn blanket and turn it into a pillow cover or store things in those old glass jars. Use your creativity to see what you can do with something before you toss it.

This article can be found in its original form on Houzz.

Photo: Real Simple

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Described as a “sustainable tiny house kit,” this home is easier to assemble than furniture, believe it or not. The Nomad Micro Home was created by Vancouver architect Ian Kent, and was designed to be so small and lightweight that a buyer can ship it anywhere in the world then put it together using basic carpentry skills.

The base Nomad Micro house kit measures only 10×10 feet and includes a living room, kitchen, upstairs sleeping loft, and costs $25,000. To save space, many of the home’s amenities function with dual purpose; for example, the kitchen shelves also act as stairs to the loft and the entire bathroom serves as the shower stall. Though it is designed as a dwelling for only 1-2 residents, several kits can be assembled together to make a larger home. For an additional cost, buyers can upgrade their home with eco-friendly add-ons like solar energy panels, rainwater collection and grey water treatment systems, and a compost toilet.

Check out the slideshow below for additional photos of the Nomad Micro:

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Sources: Jetson Green and Huffington Post