According to the National Audubon Society's energy guide, properly insulating your home can save up to $135 in energy costs per year. With concerns about indoor air quality (IAQ) and energy efficiency on the rise, some manufacturers heed the call with eco- and health-friendly options at prices often comparable to conventional insulations.
• BioBased Systems' BioBased 501 spray-in insulation (a soy-based polyurethane foam) expands to fill cracks and crevices, creating an airtight seal with high thermal resistance ( biobased.net).
• Made almost entirely from postindustrial cotton and denim fibers, Bonded Logic Inc.'s UltraTouch batting contains no chemical irritants ( bondedlogic.com).
• CertainTeed's GreenGuard-certified InsulSafe SP blow-in insulation is odor- and formaldehyde-free ( certainteed.com).
• Johns Manville's Spider fiberglass insulation resists mold and is formaldehyde-free ( jm.com).
When it comes to roofing, durable, eco-friendly alternatives such as slate, metal, and composite- or recycled-material tiles deliver looks and performance.
• EcoStar's Majestic Slate Traditional tiles are a resource-friendly alternative to slate. Made from recycled plastic and rubber, the durable tiles have superior fire- and impact-resistance ratings; available in nine colors ( ecostar.carlisle.com).
• Re-New Wood Eco-Shake shingles (made from 100 percent recycled vinyl and cellulose fiber) resist fading, are fire-retardant, and can withstand extreme weather conditions ( renewwood.com).
• Made from 98 percent post-consumer recycled metals, Rustic Shingles mimic the look of wood shake shingles, but will never warp, crack, or mold ( classicmetalroofingsystems.com).
WINDOWS & DOORS
If you're in the market for new windows and doors, look for models with a low U-Factor (the measurement of a window's heat flow). On average, U-Factor values range from 0.25 to 1.25. Even better, save energy and dollars by sealing air leaks around existing windows and doors with caulk.
• Andersen's 400 Series windows feature dual-pane glass with an argon chamber for added insulation. High-performance low-E4 glass, according to the company, makes the windows up to 41 percent more energy-efficient than standard ( andersenwindows.com).
• JELD-WEN's moisture-resistant AuraLast wood windows and doors are manufactured using a water-based treatment that vastly decreases volatile organic compounds ( jeld-wen.com).
• Pella's Designer Series patio doors and windows have double- or triple-pane glass to cut heating/cooling costs and to keep between-the-glass shades safe and dust-free ( pella.com).
Green up your kitchen or bathroom with eco-friendly cabinetry, available in a variety of styles and finishes.
• Made from plywood that is LEED-certified, Greenway Cabinetry Inc.'s Breathe Easy kitchen and bathroom cabinets are formaldehyde-free, and use only water-based glues and low- to no-VOC finishes ( breatheeasycabinetry.com).
• Neil Kelly Cabinets' Naturals Collection includes clean-lined cabinets made from recycled and Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood; they're available in low-VOC paint finishes such as Buttermilk, Gingham, Pale Lavender, or in natural oil or wax ( neilkellycabinets.com).
For unique and resource-conscious drawer and cabinet pulls, try one of the following:
• Aurora Glass pulls, hand-made from 100 percent recycled glass ( auroraglass.org).
• Schaub & Company's Michigan Naturals knobs, made from Great Lakes stones and 100 percent recycled brass ( schaubandcompany.com).
KITCHEN & LAUNDRY APPLIANCES
• Bosch's 800 Series Evolution dishwasher is equipped with a condensation drying system that eliminates the need for an active drying agent ( boschappliances.com).
• For small kitchens, consider space-saving options such as Fisher & Paykel's Double DishDrawer. You can run one drawer at a time to accommodate smaller loads and minimize energy, water, and detergent usage ( fisherpaykel.com).
• Maytag's Epic high-efficiency front-loading washer is Energy Star-certified and features automatic water-level sensor and temperature control ( maytag.com).
• Fisher & Paykel's top-loading AquaSmart washer and AeroSmart dryer are energy- and water-efficient ( fisherpaykel.com).
Energy-efficient fireplaces can supply heat to a room without the electrical costs.
• Lennox Hearth Product's Country Collection stoves (formerly Country Stoves) are EPA Phase II-certified for clean, efficient burning, and are available in wood- and pellet-burning models ( lennoxhearthproducts.com).
• Miles Industries' fireplaces do not require an electrical hook-up to provide energy-efficient radiant heat; remote control and programmable options are also available ( milesfireplaces.com).