As more people are becoming concerned about their environmental impact, there is a rising interest in sustainable practices. Nowadays, more people are contributing to higher energy and water use, greater congestion and access to other resources. Sustainable practices are necessary to maintain a high quality of life. Here are four improvements you can make to the outside of your home for making personal changes in sustainable practices.
Check Your Seal
Air leakage is a major contributing factor to energy waste. As hot air enters your home, cooled air exits. Interior home improvements involve caulking, sealing, HVAC work and window coverings. Exterior improvements might be overlooked. A well-maintained roof protects your home from sun and heat, as well as rough weather.
Residential roofing specialists can perform a roof audit, checking for seals and weather damage. They also ensure that chimney flues are safely closed and that attached garage roofs or porch roofs aren’t contributing to energy loss.
Xeriscaping is standard in some areas. In desert climates, gardeners and landscapers have created distinctive yards and gardens that make use of natural flora such as cacti and desert grasses. These drought-resistant plants are natural water conservers. Homeowners can sustain their landscape and the region’s water resources by harvesting rainwater. Even in desert climates, rainwater harvesting can make a difference.
Even one-half inch of rain can yield 400 gallons of water. Funnel this water off residential roofs by creating washes in your landscape that prevent water loss by recirculating it to your plants.
The entire exterior of your home will never remain cool, but certain areas will be more livable during certain times of day. North-facing properties bear the brunt of long summer days while west-facing areas remain cool. Make the most of these naturally occurring conditions by incorporating porches that act as a heat buffer on north-facing home areas.
Other microclimates and cool corridors can be created using adobe and rammed earth. These materials do not contribute to the urban heat island effect. Because they do not release heat at night, these are excellent features for patio areas.
Plant a Tree, or Two
The 10,000 tree project aims to grow 10,000 or more trees in the Tucson area in Phoenix. Implementing projects like this in your area can help replenish trees being cut down in other areas. Trees improve air quality, provide shade and improve home value. Even if you live in a desert you can still do your part. Desert trees include fig, several varieties of mesquite, Chinese elm, desert willow and more.
Once you make these improvements outside of your home, you might find yourself spending less time indoors running the air conditioning and decreasing your carbon footprint.
- Emma Sturgis, the author, is a freelance writer from Boston, MA.