sustainable homes

7 Commons Myths About Making a Sustainable Home Debunked

Sustainable home

Image by sl-f via iStock by Getty Images

If you’re considering building a sustainable home, or renovating your current home for greater energy efficiency, you might wonder if it’s worth it. After all, maybe you’ve read about green building or heard stories countering its benefits and complaining about the costs.

Crafting a sustainable home should still account for design and aesthetics, but reap the rewards of savings, comfortability and functionality.

With so many misconceptions about sustainable homes ringing in your ear, it might make your decision seem like a difficult one. This list debunks seven common myths about creating a sustainable home.

1. Sustainability Is Too Expensive

Many homeowners believe sustainability costs too much — a common misunderstanding about eco-friendly living. Developing an adequate construction budget to cover the outlays for green materials and sustainable labor practices often seems out of reach.

Of course, certain aspects of green building are more expensive, requiring extensive planning and a few sacrifices to stay within budget. However, constructing a sustainable home doesn’t have to impact costs or take away from your design wish list.

In fact, green construction may require fewer materials or cost-effective alternatives in some builds. Green homes with energy-efficient appliances, materials and technology also tend to have a higher home resale value while promising ample savings in utility bills.

For instance, homes meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) residential green building codes qualify homeowners to save nearly 20% in energy costs. Meanwhile, a recent Freddie Mac study illustrated how energy-efficient homes sold for 2.7% more than conventional homes.

Additionally, a March 2021 report by the National Association of Home Builders uncovered the following essential and desirable preferences for eco-conscious shoppers:

  • Windows: ENERGY STAR-rated windows accounted for a total of 83% of prospective homebuyers.
  • Appliances: ENERGY STAR-rated appliances accounted for a total of 81% of prospective homebuyers.
  • Lighting: ENERGY STAR-rated lighting accounted for a total of 80% of prospective homebuyers.

Even if you’re not building a green home from scratch, simple renovations and upgrades for new appliances or windows could boost your market price. It can also save you money.

2. Green Homes Are Unattractive

It’s essential for a house to feel like home, whether or not it contains all the sustainable bells and whistles. Green materials don’t necessarily correlate with an unattractive home design and homeowners rarely have to compromise comfort and aesthetics for eco-friendliness.

Green homes can possess the same function and tasteful style as a conventional build, but with greater energy efficiency.

Regardless of your design preferences, sustainable home construction could lean toward traditional, modern, unique or luxury designs. The choice is up to you.

3. Solar Power Means Living Off-grid

People tend to associate a sustainable home with solar power and off-grid living. Indeed, solar power helps reduce your carbon footprint and utility bills — however, it doesn’t mean you’ll be without power in the evenings or when the weather turns ugly.

Most solar panel systems in America are grid-tied, meaning they still generate electricity from sunlight while inverters export excess power to the grid. Homeowners can then receive credits toward their electricity bills, earning them even more savings or eliminating the cost to run electricity entirely.

Because grid-tied systems don’t require a battery to store energy, they’re usually less expensive and easier to install. When grid-tied panels no longer run on solar power, the system pulls electricity from the grid. 

4. There’s Not Enough Airflow

Older U.S. homes are not exactly energy efficient. Many lose heat and cool air due to cracks and poor insulation. Anywhere cold drafts work their way into a house can result in 50% heat loss and poor indoor air quality. As a result, locked-in moisture can turn into mold.

According to the EPA, indoor pollutants and toxic concentrations of mold, carbon monoxide, smoke or volatile organic compounds could lead to harmful exposures and various health implications.

Green homes are built to be airtight, but do not prevent proper ventilation. Sustainable residential construction must simultaneously account for airflow and energy efficiency while improving insulation.

5. Sustainable Building Is a Fad

Home design is constantly shifting according to the season, buyers’ preferences and changes to functionality needs. While staying ahead of the latest trends and keeping your property value up is difficult, sustainability is an exception.

Green construction is certainly evolving upward. The notion it might disappear someday is a myth. According to the National Association of Realtors, current home buyers eagerly embrace a greener housing market to help sustain their new eco-friendly lifestyles.

From energy-efficient apartments close to single-family homes with solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations, reducing one’s environmental impact is a top priority. The 50% of today’s construction projects dubbed “green builds” further highlights how this is becoming more of a focus in new buildings.

Sustainable construction materials aren’t the only consideration. Green building also comprises water, materials and land conservation.

In Massachusetts, prospective home buyers cannot build on land surrounding water without seeking approval from the state’s conservation board or the town. Regulations like these are aligned with federal standards to uphold water quality, reduce pollution and protect endangered species during residential or commercial construction.

Regardless of age, more people are growing environmentally conscious as they learn about sustainability and green homes.

6. Energy Efficiency Is Too Hard

Renewable energy may confuse some people without environmental backgrounds, but efficiency doesn’t have to be complex or overwhelming. There are many ways you can improve your home’s sustainability with straightforward upgrades.

Swapping out old appliances for ENERGY STAR-rated smart innovations — dishwashers, refrigerators, laundry machines, HVAC systems, light bulbs, toilets — doesn’t require significant remodeling.

Many new appliance models also come with unique features allowing you to adopt greener habits. For instance, smart thermostats can turn your heat or air conditioner on or off depending on whether someone is occupying a room. Likewise, smart refrigerators use advanced technology to help prevent food waste by using enhanced organization features.

Investing in new windows with good weatherization or upgrading to a cool roof are other, easy ways to make your home greener for the future.

7. Sustainable Living Is for Tree Huggers

While older generations may negatively view Millennials and Gen Z as tree huggers, sustainable homes have little to do with age or political party. They’re more focused on reducing energy use, protecting the earth, saving money and improving health.

According to a study by Pew Research Center, 64% of Americans want to prioritize climate change effects in creating a more sustainable planet for future generations.

Sustainability entails the “triple bottom line” — a business model companies adopt to assert responsibility for their social, economic and environmental impacts. It’s also commonly described as measuring people, profit and the planet.

There are no requirements for wanting to purchase or build a sustainable home, such as an age cutoff, being a hippie or having an environmental science degree. In fact, two-thirds of Americans would spend more on sustainable products with the opportunity to do so.

Building Respect for the Environment

After debunking seven common myths about making a sustainable home, there isn’t much of an excuse not to consider it. Whether you’re making simple upgrades for energy efficiency, adopting sustainable lifestyle habits or constructing an eco-friendly home from the ground up, a green home builds respect for the environment.

1 Comment

  • Olivia

    Thank you for sharing this! That’s something that we need to know. But the truth about sustainable living requires being patient. Some sustainable features like solar panels and energy-efficient windows are expensive but take time to show the result and pay off. Although, energy-efficient windows work for you from the moment they were installed, preventing your house from heat loss in winter and hot air penetration in summer, making your heating and cooling systems the most efficient and reducing your utility bills.

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