2015 Trends in... Sustainable Home Design

Sure, being "Green" is trendy, but it's a trend that will certainly save you money, and save you some serious karma points with Mother Nature. Below you'll find a variety of solutions for your home that can help you reduce your environmental impact. Making your home more energy efficient is also a great selling feature, since buyers will appreciate the cost savings on utilities that come with the home. 

1. Bamboozled 

Bamboo is a great flooring alternative because it comes from a highly renewable resource (Bamboo grows fast... REALLY fast!). Bamboo offers a unique look that doesn't fit every home's decor, so if you're interested in using this sustainable product in a different way, consider bamboo cabinets. You'll have much more flexibility with bamboo in your kitchen or bathroom because you can paint it any color to fit your design needs. Bamboo is naturally water-resistant and harder than many other wood options, which makes it extra suitable for high traffic areas and rooms that get wet. 

2. LED it be

This is perhaps the quickest and most affordable way to save on your energy bills - swap out your lights with CFL or LED bulbs. The bulbs themselves cost more than traditional light bulbs, but they last significantly longer and require much less wattage, which leads to a significant savings over the life of the light bulb. This is especially useful if you have high ceilings; you'll only need to climb the ladder on occasion to change out those stubborn bulbs! CFL lights are also made with "warm" light, which is the most flattering light - who doesn't want to look better?!? If you are rehabbing a home, definitely invest in installing LED bulbs into your ceiling can lights; you'll be ages ahead of your competitors in the market and a smart buyer will know the value of it. 

3. i've got sunshine

Homeowners have been installing solar panels on their roofs for years - while this is definitely a good way to be more sustainable, the aesthetic isn't great and depending on your energy use, the actual cost savings isn't always there. There's an easy way to use this trend in a more affordable (and more attractive!) way. Install solar-powered lights in your yard; they're surprisingly affordable and enable you to have lighting in your yard without any wiring. Be aware that this trend will only work if your yard gets significant sun throughout the day. If your yard is covered in shade, or you live in a place that's constantly cloudy, the lights won't have much use for you. 

4. Raise your glass

It's easy to recycle paper and cans because there's a bin outside your house for it, but glass usually ends up in the trash because there's not a curbside pickup (who really wants to lug around their glass bottles in order to find a drop-off location?). Not anymore! Momentum Recycling offers Curbside Glass pickup in and around Salt Lake City for a very minimal cost. $7 a month gets you a bin and a once monthly pickup. Momentum will even send you a text reminder before your bin pickup to ensure you never forget! This is such a simple way to reduce your waste and requires virtually no effort. 

5. Bright's not Always Better

A great way to enhance the atmosphere in your home is to install dimming switches on your lights. A quick weekend project can achieve this, and you'll not only create a better environment in your home, but save on energy, as well since a dimmed light uses less energy than a light at full brightness. This is also a feature that potential buyers will appreciate when you sell your home, as dimming lights are generally only available in high-end homes.

6. Appliance Swap  

If you're going to upgrade your appliances, make sure you invest in Energy Star rated appliances. Many power companies even offer you a rebate for switching to more energy efficient appliances. If you can't afford to swap out all the appliances in your home, go for the ones that will have the largest effect - the refrigerator, washer, or dryer. You use those the most and they generally use the most energy in your home, so they'll offer you the most significant savings overall. 

7. like watching paint dry

Nobody likes the smell that comes with a newly painted room, but what's worse than the smell is the harsh chemical output that is actually occurring when you paint a room. Make sure to pick paint with a low VOC (volatile organic compounds), which will cut down on the smell, but more importantly will reduce the harmful vapors. You don't have to sacrifice quality on this, either; many great paint companies now make low VOC paint, so you can enjoy your new walls and breathe easy.

8. Fan Fare

Even if you have air conditioning installed in your home, adding a fan to a room is a great way to cut down on your energy consumption. On those extra hot days you'll still be able to use your air conditioning, but a fan can provide a lot of circulation to a room when it's not extremely hot - that way you don't have to use the A/C at all times. Keeping a fan on while you're away from home is also a great way to save energy; you can put the A/C back on when you return home, but the fan will keep the home somewhat regulated while you're away without using a lot of energy. 

Hopefully these simple upgrades will inspire you to go a little more "green" with your home, and save you some "green" along the way!