Going green is becoming increasingly popular, and many Americans are leading the way in their housing choices. One area recently reported that its real estate market was stagnant except for a huge rush of newly built homes coming up for sale. They were powered by solar heating and were extremely energy conscious to run.

Solar heating is a smart option in a sunny area. You will always have hot water at hand and solar energy can be transformed into other energy and stored for when you want to run different appliances.

It may be that many of these buyers are trying to help the environment, but a nice side effect of going green is that running costs will be lower once you’ve set up to run an energy-conscious home. Heating and cooling systems can account for up to half of your total energy bill in a non-green home.

One place to read about saving energy in your home is Energy Star, the government’s online site. Numerous tips from him point out what energy is being wasted and where and how to avoid it. The online site offers free tips and brochures to submit, and provides dozens of tips on living green and building green.

One of the Energy Star sites gives you top ten tips for finding a good contractor in your area, whether you want to build a ‘green’ home or have a radical makeover.

Of course, there are other little ways you can save energy and money in your pocket. One of his recommendations is to stop buying the old light bulbs and start buying the new compact fluorescent bulbs.

These are expensive to buy up front, but with the cost of one bulb, you can save up to $30 over the life of a bulb. If you live in a warm climate, you’ll be pleased to know that they put out less heat, so they’ll also keep your air conditioning costs down. This is a very small change to make, but it saves money and protects the environment.

Local governments and/or the federal government offer a choice of rebates to try to encourage people to become more energy conscious in their homes.

These grants, or one-time rebates, can cover several different areas of green living. For example, if your own state doesn’t offer incentives for you to buy an efficient wood stove or oven, you may be able to get one from the federal government.

The grant amount does not cover the cost of purchasing a new stove, however it may save you several hundred dollars off the price.

If you plan to buy a home and have it built for you, remember that many builders will add their requirements last, so it’s often easy to ask for preferred green options on a newly built home.

There is also a scheme that is executed through the Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM). Under this scheme, you can use eco-friendly building materials and designs and qualify for a green mortgage. You can even get mortgage help from these folks if you’re just planning to renovate, as long as you use eco-friendly techniques and ideas.

For more ideas on how to incorporate environmental considerations into your design, check out the National Association of Home Builders (NAH) Green Site. Her site also includes tips as simple as planting trees that bring light into the home in the winter and provide shade in the hot summers, as well as water conservation tips and other reminders.

Some of the luxuries of a home that are not so ‘sustainable’ are gradually being changed. For example, granite countertops are still all the rage, but buyers often choose ones that look like they’re made of engineered stone. These are lighter and have not consumed large amounts of gasoline that are being mapped across the country.

Similar ‘exchanges’ are made with hardwood floors and kitchen cabinets. Bamboo is widely used today in homes by people who prefer to use sustainable resources. Bamboo hardwood flooring looks just like oak hardwood flooring, but it grows in one-tenth the time it takes an oak tree!

Another popular flooring is cork, which feels warmer and smoother than ceramic tile and is also a sustainable source. A bathroom with cork walls and a cork floor always feels warmer due to the slight ‘insulating’ properties of cork.

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