Home Improvement: The Truth About Going Green
When it comes to green home improvements, a lot of people are stuck in black-and-white thinking. Either you install solar panels or you might as well continue to gobble fossil fuel. Either you use sustainable materials or you destroy old-growth forests. The reality, of course, lies someplace in between. That's why it's worth taking a closer look at some widely held assumptions about green improvements. The truth may surprise you.
Green Assumption No. 1: Sunlight Is the Answer
Green Assumption No. 2: Renewable Materials Are Always Green
Take the example of bamboo. Bamboo is considered a "green" building material because its insanely fast growth rate means it is quickly replenished. But the energy consumption associated with transporting it from far-off Asian countries can wipe out any renewable benefits. A better solution may be to use locally sourced timber from a tree farm that follows sustainable practices, or imported timber stamped with the Forest Stewardship Council logo, which certifies that the wood has been harvested from an environmentally responsible source. (Find highly rated carpenters in your area.)
Green Assumption No. 3: Green Is Incompatible With Luxury
Unfortunately, offsetting choices will only get us so far. It's also necessary to change some ingrained habits. Cable boxes and satellite systems, for example, can use nearly half the power of energy-efficient refrigerators, even when you're not watching TV. Leaving these so-called "energy vampires" plugged in adds convenience, but at a cost to your utility bills and to the environment. (Find highly rated professionals in your area who specialize in energy efficiency projects.)
Green Assumption No. 4: Incandescent Lightbulbs are Dead
With all these options, you may want to vary your lighting schemes. For example, use high-efficiency incandescent bulbs for the bedroom, dining room and living room, where you want the warm quality of incandescent light. But in basements, garages, and other areas where light quality is not that critical, go with the extra energy economy of compact fluorescent bulbs.