Bergen Co. man makes historical home self-sustainable

A Bergen County man has spent the last six years turning his home into what some are calling the most self-sustainable historical home in New Jersey.

The Victorian-era colonial farm house was built back in the 1760s. Homeowner Ed Schwartz has been converting all parts of the home to reduce his carbon footprint.

"We have appliances, lighting, heating and cooling systems that are ultra-efficient," Schwartz says. "The insulation, the air sealing, the thermal envelope of the house is critically important because an older house like this, it was like a sieve."

Schwartz says he also made sure to get rid of all the asbestos, lead pipes and lead paint from the home, to make sure his family was safe.

Outside the home, solar panels have been installed on the roof and have reduced the energy bill by as much as 90 percent.

Barrels have been placed outside to collect rainwater, which feeds directly into the garden to water the plants.

"We use compost for our gardens, as fertilizer and nutrients instead of bringing in chemicals," Schwartz says.

He has even replaced most of his lawn with butterfly- and hummingbird-friendly plants to attract wildlife.

There is a plan to rip up part of the driveway and replace it with a permeable surface that should reduce rainwater runoff.

"We have one planet," says Schwartz. "People really need to be more aware of the things they can do to take care of it."

He hopes his home is an inspiration for others to make changes to their houses.

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