Throughout the United States, we’re starting to see how climate change is creating more extreme weather. There are two strategies that are important in home construction to combat climate change.
The first strategy is to build your home to withstand instances of extreme weather. However, construction can be an incredibly wasteful industry, so we should also implement a secondary strategy. This strategy is to make these changes using eco-friendly materials and practices.
The United States is a large country with diverse climate types, so it’s important to consider your personal needs. Let’s discuss some easy ways that you can build a climate-resistant home in four different climate types and then talk about how you can choose more ethical construction practices.
Tips for Arid Climates
Arid climates are dry areas, such as deserts, that get very little rain. Deserts, in particular, are known to have temperatures that change a lot throughout the day. Nights are very cold while days are very hot.
As global temperatures rise, so will temperatures in arid climates. So, it’s important to think about features that are UV-resistant and help passively cool your home.
You’ve probably noticed how popular adobe is for home construction in hot climates.
Adobe is a mixed construction material that uses clay, sand, or gravel and is dried in the sun. It’s very durable and creates an effective seal around your home, protecting it from water or dust damage. It’s a solid building choice for your climate-minded home.
Consider painting your home a light shade, which won’t absorb as much sunlight and keeps the temperature down in your home. You should also opt for Vinyl windows, which provide a more effective seal and help protect you from strong UV rays.
Consider building some shaded outdoor areas so that you and your family can get outside, even if temperatures soar. Take advantage of the sunny climate with some solar panels, which will lower your energy bills and offer tax benefits.
Tips for Rainy Climates
Rainy days bring ambient lighting and some free white noise, but your home needs to be protected against water damage, which impacts your health and safety.
Climate change is going to increase the severity of rainstorms and flooding. People who live in rainy climates, like the Pacific Northwest or hurricane-prone areas should build with the climate in mind because humidity can do a lot of damage over time.
You need to consider your climate’s high humidity levels for all your construction materials. Moisture-resistant paints, asphalt roofing, and spray insulation are all materials that help protect your home against increased instances of rain and flooding.
Proper awnings, underground downspouts, and vinyl siding are all features that protect your home from water damage as well, making sure that your home stays mold-free and dry.
Especially if flooding is an issue, make sure to invest in a good water vacuum and a sump pump. Sump pumps keep your home from flooding when the water table rises and can save you thousands of dollars in flood damage.
Water vacuums are vital for removing smaller amounts of water, especially if you lose power and, therefore, your sump pump doesn’t work properly.
Tips for Cold Climates
We always associate rising temperatures with climate change. While the global average temperature is rising, weather patterns are getting more extreme. This means that cold climates are also going to experience more extreme cold weather.
Many people forget that water expands when it’s frozen. This is why it’s so important to make sure that water can’t get into your home in colder climates. Frozen water can cause cracks in your walls, window insulation, and even your home’s foundation.
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Homeowners in cold climates might want to consider heating tapes for their pipes. We all know that burst pipes are a nightmare to fix and clean up. The heated tape keeps your pipes warm enough so that the water doesn’t freeze and cause all that damage.
There are also heating fixtures for your gutters that will prevent ice dams and icicles. These issues can cause moisture issues in your home and heated gutters are a relatively easy solution.
Internal fixes, such as carpeting, and external features, such as multi-pane windows, all help insulate your home. Better insulation reduces your heating costs while keeping you warm. You should also consider safety features like railings around your exteriors to prevent falls.
You can also install heated pathways and a heated driveway if ice is a common risk with your home.
Tips for Windy Climates
In windy climates, you need to prepare your home so that winds can’t lift away features. Everything should also be sturdy enough to survive impacts from any projectiles.
A common issue with high wind areas, especially if tornadoes are a concern, is roof lifting. Ventilation slots allow enough wind to pass through your roof to prevent this.
Make sure that you're able to tie or bolt down all outdoor furniture. Even if your furniture is light enough to carry inside, you might not have a lot of warning before high winds arrive, and removing the furniture becomes unsafe.
Stick to impact-resistant windows and sturdy siding material, such as fiber cement. This minimizes the risk of broken glass and damage to your home’s exterior.
How Can I Make a Difference with my Home Construction?
It’s never a bad idea to invest in some safety features for your home. But how can you make sure that your construction doesn’t contribute to climate change?
Talk to your contractor about using alternative materials and about reusing as much material as possible. The Environmental Protection Agency has a material assessment tool that helps you decide which materials you can salvage to donate, reuse, or sell.
Working renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and windmills, adds value to your home and can offer you some energy independence.
Don’t discount simple eco-friendly choices like low flow toilets and low energy lighting, which reduces your resource use over time.
Check out the graphic below for more facts about the construction industry and tips on how you can make your home construction more sustainable.
Claire Silverberg is a writer for Hippo, a home insurance company. She loves exploring all sorts of topics in her work, such as wellness, business, and lifestyle. On her off days, you can find her honing her skills in the kitchen or reading on her patio
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