The ad that flashed across my Facebook page brought an immense smile of joy to my face. It has been almost five years since I’ve attended a Parade of Homes. And finally, there it was! A home tour featuring locations not only in Chicago proper, but ones in the older established suburbs of Oak Park, Evanston, Downers Grove and Lisle.

I quickly put in a call to a good friend who loves to look at homes. I didn’t have to tempt her much to get her to agree to go at the last minute. Based on the information in the ad and the name, “Green Home Tour,” I knew this particular home show was going to be slightly different from the prior home shows we’d seen. 

How so? Well the majority of these homes were not just new homes but remodeled ones as well. Even more interesting was the fact that several of the homes were not finished. This allowed the builders to highlight the green manner in which their homes were being constructed. Also, because of the owner-occupied status of the houses, we weren’t as free to wander the homes on our own. Rather, we got a guided tour. That was interesting as one got to see how a house looks when people were actually living in it as opposed to being staged.

Two of the first houses we visited were in Oak Park. The first was a modular home. The “green” factor was that it was built in a factory and then put together on site. The advantages of a modular home is that it cut the construction time in half. Neither the exterior or interior gave any indication that the house was anything other than one built from scratch at the site. 

The other house was a condominium. Once we were inside, it didn’t feel like an apartment because of the outdoor backyard. Yes, in the heart of downtown Oak Park, there is an apartment with grass growing. The developer not only had done “green” in terms of building, he added real green too! Cutting the grass is going to be an interesting proposition. But according to what we were told, there is an agreement to have it mowed at least seven times a year. That home truly made me rethink apartment living!

“Triple-paned windows” was one of the two new common denominators among all the houses. Thicker and heavier than regular windows, they successfully blocked the noise from street traffic for houses situated on busy roadways. The other feature is an air exchange, which keeps taking in the fresh and sending out the stale air. During the process, in winter for example, the heat from the stale air is exchanged for the coolness of the fresh air.

Most people are not aware that they can get a free basic energy assessment for their home. And let me clarify why it’s free: Every month on your People’s Gas and ComEd bill, you’re paying for it! An energy auditor will come to your home to perform the personalized assessment and install free energy-saving products such as a thermostat, power strips, shower heads, pipe insulation, LED light bulbs, or a faucet aerator.

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