A Wish-List of Sustainable Home Features

We’d all like to transform our homes with additional features and changes. Many of us have a wish list of changes we’d make if the time and money were available. My wish list includes features that would help create a comfortable, efficient and eco-friendly home. Today let’s review sustainable features for our homes.

I. Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat is a Wi-Fi enabled device that automatically adjusts heating and cooling temperature settings in your home for optimal performance. Smart thermostats that earn the ENERGY STAR label have been independently certified, based on actual field data, to deliver energy savings. While system designs may vary, common smart thermostat features include:

  • Wi-Fi Capability
  • Smart Setback
  • Energy Reports
  • Indoor Air Quality Control
  • Zoning Systems
  • Automatic Software Updates

A smart thermostat can truly reduce heating and cooling costs in a home, especially if you’re attentive to teaching it and using settings that are eco-friendly. They offer monthly or quarterly usage updates and previous-year comparisons that help you gauge your usage and savings. For reviews of smart thermostats, check out Tech Gear Lab’s, The 4 Best Thermostats of 2023.

II. Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters are the perfect way to reduce water and energy consumption. Since hot water is available on demand, there is no need to keep a tank of water heated 24-hours a day. Tankless water heaters also boast a greater lifespan than traditional tank heaters, and take up far less space. The main drawback to a tankless water heater is the upfront costs. Tankless heater’s needed capacity is determined by the number of people in the home. Buying the cheapest models may prove inefficient at providing hot water needed for several functions at the same time. Cost for tankless usually runs more than a tank heater. Also most homes cannot meet the electrical demand of tankless water heaters without electrical upgrades. This home feature is toward the top of my wish list.

III. Upcycle & Reuse Vintage Furnishings

As a sustainable practice, it’s always better to upcycle a piece of furniture with new upholstery, hardware or paint than to throw it out and buy new. Choosing fabric with some recycled content and paint or stain with low volatile organic compounds — VOCs that off-gas — is ideal. When new furnishings are needed, consider how you can re-use current possessions. If you don’t have anything that works, check out vintage items available in your area in online markets such as Facebook’s Marketplace. I recently bought this pretty side table from a lady close to me on Marketplace for $20.

A new front door and sidelight is another dream item for me. I really want a wooden door and the wooden sidelight would be safer than the old glass one I have.

IV. Use Native Plants

Last week I wrote about using native plants to attract birds to your garden. Using native plants and selecting the right plant for the right spot may have the farthest-reaching impact in you yard. It’s no secret that traditional landscapes with lawns of grass are maintenance-heavy. By selecting plants that are suitable for the site, you are reducing the need for future inputs into the landscape. This includes planning for the mature size of the species, matching the plant’s water needs to the site’s conditions and thinking about sun and shade conditions both now and as the landscape matures. The American “ideal” of a lawn comes from the British isles, but many environments across the US do not naturally grow grass. The amount of care and water needed in Florida to grow the poorest excuse for grass is too high. If you wish to try an alternative for your lawn, check out the ideas in Low Maintenance Yards.

Photo:   Aniston Grace / Unsplash

V. Energy Star Rated Appliances

Homes with high-efficiency appliances offer enhanced performance with reduced energy usage. Not only do Energy Star-rated appliances lower homeowners’ carbon footprint, but they also look good and reduce utility costs. At the beginning of year, I replaced my old washer and dryer with modern design and efficiency. Most environments need a well-designed HVAC system. Several years ago I replaced my central air conditioner/heater with an efficient new model and lowered my electric bill.

Find all the information you need to choose Energy Star certified products, including rebates, and retailers near you. Products that earn the Energy Star label meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the U.S. EPA, helping you save energy and money while protecting our climate by making choices that count for a clean energy future

VI. Seal & Insulate Your Home

Sealing air leaks around your home and adding insulation can help your home be more comfortable and energy efficient and provide up to a 10% savings on your annual energy bills. Simple fixes include installing weather stripping on doors and caulking around windows, while bigger jobs might include sealing leaks and adding insulation in your attic. First, review your home to choose and prioritize your air sealing and insulation projects. Find out which projects will fix your specific home problems, such as cold floors and drafts. Second, use the how-to instructions to do it yourself, or hire qualified professionals to do the job. To help you plan your projects, check out the US Dept. of Energy’s printable checklists for home improvement. All you have to do to ensure your home is improved to the quality and performance standards leading experts would insist for their own homes is to add the ‘Contractor Checklist’ included with this fact sheet as part of the official work agreement with your preferred contractor. This is vital to ensuring you get the outcome you paid for and expect with your home improvement investment.

I hope you are inspired to consider ways to make your home more energy efficient and eco friendly. Wishing you a warm and cozy home with features to save you money and help the planet.

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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

12 thoughts to “A Wish-List of Sustainable Home Features”

  1. Great ideas there Carol.Some achievable and realistic tips for everyone. My own energy saving device is to throw the TV in the garbage to save electricity and to get my news and views from the Internet.

  2. Great tips Carol. I’ve had to a lot of the things on your list this year. These are great things to do when winterizing our homes as well. Thanks for sharing at #aclwcc. Pinned.

  3. Lots of great ideas and suggestions Carol. As you know I am always up for trying small changes to be that little bit more sustainable. Lovely little table find! #MMBC

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