By Dan Roberts
Investing in your own home is one of the biggest investments you can make in your lifetime -- the most important part of the American Dream.
However, planning on getting your own home can be a short-sighted investment. You may get a poorly-made, inefficient, expensive, and worst of all, an unhealthy home for your family.
Long-term planning in getting your own home involves researching construction materials, their efficiency in terms of energy use, and their overall effect on your family’s health.
This kind of planning has its foundations on sustainable living – a lifestyle that enables people to lead healthy lives and to reduce their negative impact on Earth.
Carbon footprint, green living, recycling, reduction, and reuse of materials are all involved with sustainable living.
Some people prefer log cabins over steel-framed houses, preferring the natural look of timber on their houses' proud facades.
Houses made of timber may even be cheaper, since steel frames are more expensive to produce.
Certainly, green materials from new technologies are more expensive compared to standard building materials that most contractors are familiar with.
These high-tech green materials and features, such as solar panels, radiant heat barriers, modern HVAC systems, double-paned windows, geothermal heaters, Energy Star-certified appliances, and other energy-saving devices are not exactly cheap, yet the savings they make during their operational lifetime exceeds their initial costs.
The government has instituted loan programs to help those who are interested in making their homes energy-efficient but lack the financial means to purchase a home with energy-efficiency features or to upgrade their existing home into an energy-efficient home.
The Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM), more popularly known as green mortgages, enable buyers to avail of higher loans for energy-efficient homes.
The U.S. Department of Energy cites several advantages of an energy-efficient home:
Although having an EEM will mean bigger monthly mortgages, the savings made from energy-efficient appliances and reduced utility bills are used to pay the mortgage.
Green mortgages enable borrowers to purchase bigger, newer homes with energy-efficient features, providing borrowers with healthy shelters for their families.
Applying for a green mortgage not only empowers you as a homeowner, but it also helps you to pursue a sustainable existence.