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Earth-Friendly Abode: Four Ways to Build a Greener Home

Whether it’s used to describe an action — such as swapping plastic bags for reusable ones when you shop — or a product that’s been mindfully harvested or created, the term “green” is everywhere these days. One place that might not get the green seal of approval, though, is your home. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to turn that around. Below are four ways to build a greener home, whether you’re doing so from the ground-up or transforming an older dwelling into an earth-friendly one.

1. Swap Paint for Powder Coating

Perhaps you’ve got an old deck that needs refinishing or you’re deciding which way to finish the one that extends from your new home. Rather than rely on paint for the job, try an eco-friendly powder coating. This formula is typically used to coat structural steel and other materials meant to last, and for good reason: it’s chip, fade and scratch-resistant. More importantly, powder coating doesn’t release the harmful vapors into the air that paint does. It creates no wastewater, thus protecting the water supply; overspray can even be recycled, making it just as efficient as it is earth-friendly.

You’re probably thinking that it’s too good to be true, but luckily there’s no catch. In fact, its price is even comparable to the cost of a traditional paint treatment, which simply cannot boast the staying power of a powder coating. You’ll end up saving money in the long run.

2.  Replace Old Plumbing With Low-Flow Models

Some people refer to their toilet as “the throne,” but that doesn’t mean that yours has to be old school. In fact, replacing your home’s old toilets – or outfitting your new home with modern ones – can save you and the environment big. Consider this: old toilets can require up to 3.5 gallons per flush. That’s more than double the amount that newer models require, which is typically around 1.6 gallons. And, while the environment enjoys its water supply being spent more conscientiously, you’ll enjoy a lower water bill. It’s a win-win for everyone.

3. Sub Hemp Into Your Construction Plans

This tip might be best for those in the midst of constructing a new home or gutting an old one. Surprisingly, you can swap hemp-based products for several other building materials in order to make your home greener. Unlike the wood so often used to build the bones of homes, hemp grows quickly and its stock is easier to replenish. This makes its harvest much easier on the earth.

Hemp is also an energy efficient choice, as it provides cozy insulation that you’ll value when winter rolls around. Unlike other chemically based insulators, you won’t feel guilty using hemp;  it won’t leak any harmful vapors or toxins into the air, keeping you and your family safe.

Clearly, hemp is a worthwhile addition to your renovation plans, but how can it be utilized? It turns out that this natural product has seemingly countless uses. Hemp can be used for everything from a foundation for your house – it’s called “hempcrete” – to roof shingles and a decorative, plaster-like cover on your interior walls. While the cost might be higher than some other options, this chemical-free product boasts benefits that manmade, not-green competitors simply cannot guarantee.

4. Landscape Mindfully

This tip is more than just an aesthetic one: a thoughtful landscaping plan can make your home greener. The EPA supports this idea, suggesting that homeowners plant trees that lose their leaves on the southern and western sides of their homes. That way, the trees will provide shade in the summer and help you keep your home cool. In the winter, when the leaves are gone, the bare trees will let sunlight through so that your home feels warmer and well-insulated.

You can improve upon this or any other landscape plan that you have in mind by filling your yard with plants that are native to the area in which you live. While exotic plants might be more eye-catching, they require specific soil and watering conditions that often cost more to provide. Native plants will know how to grow in your area – they’re natives, after all – and can save you on maintenance costs. No matter what you choose, though, you’ll certainly have a house that’s greener both inside and out.