Building a green home doesn’t have to mean giving up anything luxurious. If you’ve always dreamed of a luxury bathroom, you can still easily have it and also reduce your overall water consumption. The same is true of comfort—a green HVAC system won’t leave you feeling chilly or too hot at any time of the year, but it will reduce your utility costs. Taking advantage of everything that green building has to offer while still having the luxurious home you want often comes down to finding the right contractor. Let’s take a look at how you can have an amazingly luxurious bathroom and an efficient HVAC system without losing any energy efficiency.
Your Luxury Bathroom
What does luxury mean to you? For many, a luxury bathroom has a large soaking tub, a shower with plenty of room to move around, and an amazingly comfortable look and feel to it. In a traditional home, this luxury could run up your water bill, especially if you use your bathtub a lot. Fortunately, you can have this amazing style without using a ton of water thanks to new green technologies.
First, it’s important to know where water usage in most households really occurs. Did you know that as much as a third of all of your water usage comes from flushing the toilet? Toilets don’t need to be luxurious—most of them look about the same! By installing a low-flow toilet, you’re saving a ton of water. Shower heads come in second on the list with 17% of all water usage going to them. Some people are hesitant to install low-use shower heads because they’re concerned that it will make their showers less effective. However, these shower heads are designed to actually use water more efficiently, making sure you still get the shower you love while still using less water.
When it comes to the look of the bathroom, you can still have that luxurious style with green building materials. Recycled tile looks amazing and saves materials. Making use of polished concrete made from fly-ash is another excellent option. This type of concrete uses waste from power plants (it’s perfectly safe for home use!) and is actually stronger than traditional concrete.
There are a couple of other areas where you can make your luxury bathroom more eco-friendly. The first is with ventilation. By venting the bathroom using a heat recovery ventilator, you’ll not only prevent mold and mildew, but you’ll also stay nice and warm while in the bath. That’s because these ventilators actually heat the air they pull into the room. The second technology you can add to your bathroom is a smart power strip. These devices actually turn off outlets when you’re not using the appliance plugged into it or when that appliance has gone into power-saving mode.
Having an efficient HVAC system installed is also a must-have for any green home. New HVAC systems use much less energy, and many can make use of solar panels for some or even all of the power they need. With tax credits, it can be very affordable to install these panels and have them connected to your HVAC.
Dual-fuel heat pumps are another green HVAC technology. During the winter, traditional heat pumps aren’t very effective. With a dual-fuel system, you can lower your utility costs without sacrificing comfort. The system changes between fuel sources depending on which one is currently more efficient, so there’s nothing you have to do.
Finding the Right Contractor
Now that you see how you can have a green home without losing any comfort or luxury, you may be ready to find yourself a contractor and start drawing up housing plans. However, before you do that, you want to make sure that the contractor you’re working with is the right partner for your project. Here are a few questions you should ask contractors to help determine if you’ve found the right one.
Ask About Materials. It’s important to know which materials your builder is going to be using and why those materials are classified as green. They should also note any materials that could contain harmful materials and how they will minimize their use. They should go over everything from the beams used in the home’s frame to the windows and insulation. Also ask if their subcontractors and other partners use green materials and practices.
Learn About their Experience. Some builders are just beginning to build green homes, while others have been using green materials and technology for years. Learning who has experience and who doesn’t is essential, especially if you want your home to incorporate as many green practices as possible.
Ask About their Green Planning Method. Some builders decide to drop green changes into their plans here and there, which can be fine, but doesn’t always look at the home as a whole. A more holistic approach offers a more comprehensive plan for making a house eco-friendly and can avoid problems later.
In addition to asking these important questions, also make sure to ask about how you’ll save money and how green the company itself is. With these answers, you’ll be able to determine the best contractor to help you build a green home that includes all of the luxuries you want.