Getting Your Green On
Conducting a green home audit Ã�Â¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½ the ultimate eco-trip.
Words by Lisa-Ann Hurlston-McKenzie
Does your home get a passing grade when it comes to being 'green'? A green home audit can help determine the eco-friendliness of your living environment by assessing your home's environmental performance based on the lifestyle of its inhabitants. Audits provide a guide to saving money and creating healthy living spaces by identifying opportunities for greater energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction and use of local products or services. Still relatively new across the Caribbean, the number of companies offering energy audits continues to grow. So, while do-it-yourself green home checklists are readily available, results tend to be more comprehensive when conducted by a professional trained in industry accepted standards.
Beyond the ‘feel good’ factor of living a greener lifestyle and channelling your inner eco-consumer, an audit can reap a wealth of rewards over and above saving you that vital chunk of change on utility bills. Proven to enhance the wellbeing of occupants, lower healthcare costs and increase productivity, improving indoor environmental quality offers benefits to both businesses and families seeking to ensure safe, healthy environments. What is more, undertaking an audit can boost the durability and green marketability of your house as in the US, where green homes that are professionally certified to ensure against ‘greenwashing,’ often attract higher asking prices.
So what is involved in a green home audit? A survey of your basic utility information, lifestyle choices and current practices is followed by an interior and exterior walk-through to examine opportunities to improve energy and water efficiency, air quality and natural resource use. Professional assessments can be quite involved and use sophisticated testing and monitoring equipment.
Finally, the auditor’s report will contain recommended improvements along with calculated return on investment (ROI) or payback for measures. Some audits may estimate your home’s carbon footprint and offer ways to become ‘carbon neutral.’ Prioritise the implementation of recommendations based on your audit goals (i.e. lower utility bills or healthier home). Change need not be made all at once; rather, start with simple lifestyle choices or select budget-friendly options with one to three year paybacks. Once you start seeing monthly savings, the extra funds can go toward further green home improvements or big-ticket items. Any way you look at it, getting audited never felt so good.
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