Think green when shopping for a home

Purchasing a home involves making many decisions. How many bedrooms do you need? What neighbourhood do you want to live in? Should it be previously owned, brand new or custom-built?

Here’s one more thing to consider: is the home a “green” home? That is, does it have features that will save energy and water, reduce maintenance costs and waste, offer a healthy indoor environment and have a reduced impact on the earth?

With growing awareness around being green and making the right choices for the environment, it’s not surprising that more and more builders are constructing green homes.

In addition, homeowners are investing in upgrading their homes with green features to make them more energy efficient, comfortable as well as to increase the sales value.

All of this is good news for buyers who are looking for a home with a particular shade of green. Whether you’re looking at a home that is previously owned or one that is new, here are some things to consider:

Insulation: Next to a mortgage, energy costs can be one of the most significant household expenditures. An energy-efficient home conserves energy by reducing heat loss during the winter and heat gains during the summer.

One of the best ways to reduce heat loss and gain is to ensure ceilings, walls and foundations are well-insulated and draft-free. Energy Star windows and doors will also help keep your heating and cooling costs down while improving comfort.

Heating systems: A home with an older model heating system that operates at 65 to 75 per cent efficiency can realize significant cost savings by converting to a new energy efficient model that operates at 85 to 98 per cent efficiency.

Look for heating systems that use high efficiency motors as well to reduce electricity costs.

Water-efficiency: Water is a precious resource. Newer front loading clothes washers can use far less water than older top loaders.

They can save on water heating and clothes drying costs too. Also, ask if the home has low-or dual-flush toilets and low-flow shower and faucet fixtures.

Water use can be further reduced by limiting the amount of water required to maintain lawns and gardens through the use of hardy, indigenous plants, capturing rain water for irrigation and limiting lawn area.

Light fixtures: Energy-efficient lighting is an easy way to reduce your electrical consumption. Look for compact fluorescent lamps, which last up to 10 times longer than regular bulbs and use one-third of the energy.

Durable building materials: When a building material requires frequent repair or replacing, it becomes both an environmental and economic burden.

Durable materials don’t need to be replaced or repaired as frequently and this reduces repair costs as well as the amount of resources consumed to supply the materials and the amount of material taken to landfills.

Look for things like exterior siding that doesn’t need frequent painting, roofing materials built to last for 20 years or more, and moisture-resistant finishes in bathrooms and kitchens.

Indoor Air Quality: Choose materials and finishes that have low odour and low pollutant emissions. A ventilation system that provides fresh outdoor air and deals with moisture and odours can also help maintain a healthy indoor environment.

One way to check the nearby destinations in any neighbourhood you’re considering on your green home hunt, is to visit www.walkscore.comand enter the address of the house you’re looking at.

This tool calculates a walkability score for that address based on its proximity to transit, grocery stores, schools and other amenities.

This is one element of sustainability that can be compared to other neighbourhoods.

 

Click here to view this article.  By Trevor Gloyn, Postmedia News – The Vancouver Sun.

Where to recycle common household items

It’s easy enough to recycle your newspapers, paper, cardboard, bottles, cans and plastics into your household recycling bins, but what about some common household items that you don’t want to throw in the garbage?  I was trying to find places to recycle my used batteries, light bulbs and plastic bags.

Recycling rechargeable batteries and cellphones have been established for quite some time now. However, just this past June, the provincial goverment set up a program to recycle alkaline and single use batteries. I don’t know why it took so long, but at least we have it now! You can drop them off at several locations, the most common places are: Home Depot, Rona, Future Shop, Best Buy and London Drugs. For more info check out www.call2recycle.ca.

 

It was a bit harder to find places that would take used light bulbs. Many places will take fluorescent tubes such as Home Depot and Rona but I just want to recycle the plain light bulbs! Edmonds Recycling will accept all types of light bulbs and batteries Their locations are in Langley, Surrey and Burnaby, open on weekdays during business hours – www.edmondsrecycling.com.

I wasn’t able to find a specific recycling program that accepts used plastic bags but some grocery stores have a bin in front of their stores to recycle bags such as Wal Mart and Superstore.

The Surrey Urban Farmers Market has a battery and printer cartridge recycle station. This market takes place every Wednesday from 1-6pm until September 29, 2010. They are located at the North Surrey Recreation Centre near the Surrey Central Skytrain. Their website is www.surreymarket.org.

The general recycling depot that accepts all kinds of electronics, batteries, computers and more can be found at 120-13065 84 Avenue in Surrey, open on weekdays. This is for all of Greater Vancouver. Their website contains the items they recycle at www.electronics-recycling.com. The Recycling Council of BC has a plethora of information as well. There is a drop down menu on the right hand side of their website where you can select the items you want to recycle and where you can find a place to recycle them. That’s very useful. The website is www.rcbc.bc.ca.

 

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca

How to Move the Green Way

If you are planning on moving and you would like to be more “green” or environmentally conscious, here are some ways to make that happen.

Ask your friends and family if they have any cardboard boxes you can use. Or maybe you have some already that are hidden in your storage locker or garage. Check with your local grocery store, liquor store, hardware store and the like for boxes. They may be in different sizes but that doesn’t matter, sometimes that works better for dishes or books etc.

At the office, photocopier/printer paper boxes are great boxes to use. They are not too big and are fairly strong too. Great boxes for stacking.

If you don’t want to use cardboard boxes, another option is renting moving crates. These are reusable plastic crates that are typically crushproof and stackable. There’s a cost to them, but usually the company rents them to you a couple of weeks before your move so you have them for about a month. They deliver them and then pick them up. No mess and no waste. Also check with your moving company, some of them provide this service as well.

 

What do you do about protecting your dishes, glassware or other breakables? You can use newspaper, used padded envelopes (from work) and old blankets and towels. (The latter may be a bit bulky whereas newspaper ink might get on your dishes).

Decreasing the amount of “stuff” that you have can help make your move easier on you. Hold a garage sale or put up items on Craigslist. Now, just remember not to accumulate too much stuff once you make your move! And the less stuff that you have, the smaller and lighter the moving vehicle will be and thus less gas that is burning.

Use environmentally friendly cleaning products. I like Method and Attitude products (which you can get at Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs and Superstore).

If you do use cardboard boxes for moving, think of recycling them or reusing to a friend or coworker that will be moving in the future.

Good luck with your move!

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Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at holmesteam.ca