Environmental awareness is at an all-time high as more people are concerned with sustainability and finding eco-friendly options for all sorts of things. If you’re in the market for some home upgrades, you probably want the best eco-friendly windows, among other sustainable building materials. The good news is that there are more sustainable choices available than ever before. Homeowners today have many options for ecological glass, framing materials and other features when choosing sustainable windows. This guide covers everything you need to know about finding ecological windows for your new build or remodeling project.
What Does It Mean to Be Sustainable?
Sustainability is more than just a buzzword — it’s a way of life that many people hope to attain. Most people are familiar with the term “eco-friendly,” and the idea of sustainability is closely tied to this. Being sustainable means using renewable resources and resources with an endless supply or consuming non-renewable resources in a way that helps them last for a long time. Our earth contains a finite amount of many resources, and we must use them wisely for life to continue on the planet. Additionally, climate change is making many practices less sustainable, so it’s essential to make good choices that support better sustainability.
So, what does this mean for our homes? Being mindful of the environment can involve every facet of our lives and every purchasing decision. What we eat, the clothes we wear and the materials we use to build our homes can all affect the environment. Being sustainable at home means making the best possible choices that limit our environmental footprint as much as possible. It can involve saving electricity and water, limiting non-renewable resources consumed and choosing items for our homes that promote sustainability, such as more eco-friendly and efficient appliances and building materials.
The Trend in Eco-Friendly Homes
As the idea of sustainability gains traction, more eco-friendly homes are on the rise along with it. As more homeowners become aware of sustainability issues, they want environmentally friendly updates in their homes. Eco-friendly homes can include several unique, sustainable options that decrease their environmental footprints. Some of the many benefits of having an eco-friendly home include:
- Helping the environment: Of course, one of the top benefits of an eco-friendly home is that you get the peace of mind that you’re protecting our world for future generations. Better efficiency means your home uses less water and electricity, reducing your overall environmental impact.
- Better health: Choosing to use better materials for your living spaces means less exposure to harmful chemicals for you and your family. Many types of conventional building materials contain substances that can harm your health in the long term and cause irritation in the short term. Reducing indoor air pollution and other chemical exposure can improve your health and even add years to your life.
- Cost-saving measures: It’s a common misconception that eco-friendly options are more expensive. Prices are generally comparable to more conventional choices. However, you should also look at the big picture and consider the long-term financial savings from installing eco-friendly options in your home. Most eco-friendly choices improve a home’s energy efficiency and can you save significantly on utility bills. The savings over time make most eco-friendly home upgrades more than worth it in the long run. Eco-friendly windows can also improve your property value and attract buyers when it’s time to sell.
- Less maintenance: Part of sustainability is reducing waste, so many sustainable home options are higher quality and built to last. Home materials meant for the long term are more durable and often require less maintenance, adding to the overall cost savings.
For all of these reasons and more, many homeowners today are opting for more eco-friendly choices in their homes, including appliances, doors, windows, flooring, paint and furnishings. There are many ways to make your home more sustainable!
Choosing From Sustainable Window Options
If you want a more eco-friendly home, choosing more sustainable windows is a great place to start. Windows are an often overlooked aspect of home building and design. However, from the materials used to the energy efficiency they provide, windows can have a significant effect on the overall sustainability of a home.
So, what makes a window more sustainable? The materials used to construct them are a top concern. You’ll want to use window materials that have the least environmental impact possible. This can mean using renewable materials, recycled products, responsibly harvested wood and other eco-friendly materials. Additionally, windows are more sustainable when they promote better energy efficiency — which is better for the environment and can save you money. The most efficient windows will keep your heated or cooled air where you want it and not let drafts in. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best window materials and the benefits of each:
- Fiberglass and information about Ultrex Fiberglass: Composite windows are made of 2 or more different materials. Vinyl composites are more susceptible to warping, twisting and seal failure. Homespire uses unique materials made from a blend of glass strands and resin. This composite material is incredibly durable and energy-efficient and have excellent insulating abilities. Composite windows, such as the ones offered by Homespire, last a long time and require very little maintenance. You won’t need to stain, paint or refinish window frames. Fiberglass and information about Ultrex Fiberglass are considered an eco-friendly option because of its high efficiency ratings.
- Wood: Timber products can be harvested sustainably if forests are managed as a renewable resource. Look for certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, an organization dedicated to responsible forestry management and ensuring consumers know the wood products they buy are sustainable. Any leftover or scrap wood from the manufacturing process is easily biodegradable. Wooden window frames also take very little energy to produce compared to other types and do not have harmful by-products or pollution related to their manufacture. Wood frames also make very efficient windows, stand up well to extreme temperatures and provide a beautiful, natural look for your home. Rot may be a concern with wood windows, though.
- Vinyl: While you may not think of vinyl as an eco-friendly building material, vinyl windows have many benefits that can contribute to the overall sustainability of a home. The manufacturing process for vinyl isn’t the most planet-friendly, but vinyl is still considered an eco-friendly option because of its recyclability. Vinyl windows require little maintenance and never need to be painted, stained or refinished, but vinyl windows are prone to warping when heated by the sun and eventually the seal can fail.
- Glass: The glass used in your windows is a very eco-friendly material. Glass is made from sand — a natural, renewable resource — and is endlessly recyclable. Glass can be melted down and made into new glass products again and again. For an even more sustainable glass choice, look for windows made from recycled glass. Much of a home’s heat transfer happens through the glass of the windows, so you choose an eco-friendly, well-insulated glass that is more energy-efficient and will protect your home climate better, such as glazed or double-paned.
Other Ways to Make Your Home More Sustainable
If you want to make your whole home more sustainable, you can do many different things, from simple changes in your routine to large-scale renovations. Choose the actions that fit in with your lifestyle and budget, and reap the benefits of a more eco-friendly home! Reduce your impact with these tips:
- Insulate: Adding insulation to your walls, ceilings and floors can greatly improve your home’s energy efficiency, decreasing your heating and cooling needs and reducing utility costs.
- Choose non-toxic materials: So many things in our homes, including building materials and cleaning supplies, can contain harmful chemicals. Go non-toxic whenever possible to reduce your impact on the environment and improve your home’s indoor air quality.
- Minimize waste: Do what you can to reduce the amount of garbage your household throws out. Re-use what you can, and recycle other materials whenever possible. If you have the space, consider composting kitchen and yard waste. When you make purchases, buy products that have little to no waste. This goes for home renovation projects, too — many of your used building materials can be reused — just find the right avenues for donation.
- Plant native landscaping: Outdoors, use native plants in your landscaping since they generally require less water, are easier to maintain and often don’t need any fertilizer or pesticides. Native plants are better suited to prevent erosion as well.
- Swap out lightbulbs: If you still use a lot of incandescent lightbulbs around your house, consider switching to LED bulbs. These lights may be a little more expensive up front, but they are last a lot longer and are much more energy-efficient, which can save you tons on the power bill.
- Install energy-efficient appliances: Your home appliances can consume large amounts of energy, and new models can help you save on energy consumption and costs. Replacing older, less-efficient models with newer, quality ones will lower your energy usage and save you money in the long run. Consider replacing kitchen appliances, washers and dryers, HVAC systems and home electronics.
- Use eco-friendly paints: Conventional paints and stains are often full of toxic chemicals that get into the air in your home. Make the switch to better paints that are lower in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxic substances for a healthier home environment, as well as a lower ecological footprint.
- Find renewable energy solutions: Check with your energy provider to see if they offer any options for investing in renewable energy sources like solar or wind. You may even want to consider adding your own solar panels to your home.
- Add more plants: Houseplants can help with indoor air quality and improve the ambiance. Add in a few plants all over your home and enjoy the cleaner air.
- Install a programmable thermostat: Your HVAC system uses up a lot of energy, but having more control over the daily temperature can net you some big savings. A programmable thermostat makes this easy, and you can set up a daily program for different temperatures for different activities — such as when the family is more active, away from the home or sleeping.