green home

Beyond Solar: Make your house greener with these five new technologies

Wish you could make your home more environmentally friendly and save money?

Before you start looking for solutions, do an energy audit of your home, recommends Jim Rill, an architect in the Washington, D.C. area who has designed green homes.

You’ll probably find places where your home is leaking energy and money. In fact, a typical U.S. home uses 37 percent more energy today than it would have in 1980, according to a report on the future of energy-saving home technology by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Ready to go green?

We searched for the best new green home technologies that are just now hitting the market that will help you reduce your carbon footprint and cut your utility bills. Check out our top five reccomendations below:



1. Cool roof.

If you’re in the market for a new roof, why not make it a cool roof?

Cool roofs, which make use of special coatings or granules to reflect the sun’s heat away from the building, are one of hottest green home technologies, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In fact, cool roofs can reduce air conditioning costs and extend the life of the roof.

Over the last few years, PPG Industries, a company that supplies cool roof technology, has been working with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop coatings that use near-infrared fluorescence and reflectance to increase energy savings even more. And there’s a bonus: if you install an Energy Star-certified cool roof, you may be able to get a tax credit of up to $500.


2. High-tech dryer.

Most clothes dryers use old, inefficient technology, according to BuildingGreen, a publishing company devoted to green building. But heat pump technology can dry your clothes up to 60 percent more efficiently, according to the report. In fact, BuildingGreen named the Whirlpool HybridCare ventless heat pump dryer, which has an “eco-mode” setting that can use 40 percent less energy than standard dryers, one of the top new products of 2016. General Electric also is working on a heat pump dryer.



3. A home battery.

This year, you’ll be able to buy a home battery that will store energy to power your home. In 2016, Tesla’s Powerwall, which takes the company’s electric car battery technology and translates it to the home, is slated to become commercially available for about $3,000.

The battery, which must be installed on a wall by an electrician, can store enough energy during the day to power an average home at night, according to Tesla. This is especially good for homeowners who have solar panels and want to save some of the day’s energy for use at night, according to Mark Sudak, owner of SuperGreen Solutions of Oceanside, CA, which sells green products for the home, including solar panels.

“When the sun goes down, you’ve still got a house to operate — you’ve got to cook dinner, watch TV,” Sundak said.

But even homeowners who lack solar panels could use this battery to store power at off-peak times, when it’s less expensive, to run the home during peak times, he says. The battery also can serve as backup in a power outage.


4. Smart windows.

Heat loss from windows can make up as much as a quarter of your heating bill, according to the Department of Energy. When it’s hot out, heat coming in through the windows means your A/C has to work harder. But a new kind of window made of thermochromic glass automatically adjusts to block heat and glare in summer and let in maximum light and warmth in during winter.

The patent-pending technology operates in a similar way to electrochromic window technology, but doesn’t require programming or an electricity sources, according to the manufacturer, RavenWindow. They claim the windows can save up to 30 percent on heating and cooling all year long. More smart window options may be available soon. Pella Windows, with a grant from the Department of Energy, is working to develop windows that use sensors and microprocessors to maximize energy savings.



5. A better hot water heater.

Hot water heaters typically make up about 17 percent of a home’s energy use, which is more than any other appliance, according to the Department of Energy. Hot water heaters that use heat pump technology can be twice or three times as energy efficient as conventional hot water heaters.

One new heat pump hot water heater, the Sanden Heat Pump Water Heater, snagged a spot in BuildingGreen’s list of top products of 2016. It uses a CO2 refrigerant that, in contrast to the more commonly used hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, doesn’t deplete the ozone layer and has a minimal impact on global warming, according to Sanden.

The heater absorbs heat from the air and transfers it to the water, using almost 80 percent less energy than electric hot water heaters, according to Sanden.

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