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Green Gutters

Green Gutters

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For homeowners who've already taken the leap towards greener living by installing solar panels, geothermal pumps, radiant floor heating systems and/or spray foam insulation, why not make the small, additional step of installing green gutters too? An easy home improvement fix to make, green gutters not only utilize non-toxic, environmentally friendly materials, they can even make changes that will minimize natural waste and material consumption. Read on for more specifics!

Green Gutter Materials

The gutter material itself is often the first green-qualifier to be considered. Some of today's most popular choices include:

  • Aluminum gutters
  • Vinyl (PVC) gutters
  • Galvanized steel gutters
  • Copper gutters
  • Wood gutters

Obviously there are many variables to consider when choosing gutter materials, such as cost, durability, aesthetic appeal, eco-friendliness etc. Without a doubt, the material PVC is the least green of your gutter options. This plastic contains harmful carcinogens and synthetic chemicals that, when broken down or released, are hazardous to both the environment and to homeowners who are exposed. Top gutter material choices for green homeowners include copper, galvanized steel and aluminum. Wood isn't primarily used for modern homes.

Copper, although one of the most expensive gutter materials, is also one of the sturdiest and durable. Not only can copper gutters withstand years of wear and tear with very minimal damage, they are not prone to rusting or denting. Copper gutters can develop patina due to long-term oxidation, but this isn't generally considered a harmful or worrisome issue. Stainless or galvanized steel gutters are also on the costly side, but they are durable as well. One issue that steel gutter owners sometimes complain about is rusting over time—copper and aluminum gutters won't rust, but aluminum is a much weaker material than either steel or copper.

Gutter material quality and durability is of high importance because this will affect the reliability and the life of your gutter systems. If you get the cheapest gutter material available, you run the risk of enduring greater long-term expenses due to more frequent repairs and/or replacements. Generally speaking, the thicker the gutter material, the stronger your gutter system will be; so select the thickest gutters available, which are usually made of steel.

It's also wise to factor in the natural environment and weather patterns where you live when choosing a gutter material. For example, if you live in a forested area, or one prone to storms and natural disasters, you will likely want your gutters to be durable enough to withstand the stress of heavy debris, high winds, etc. By comparison, homeowners in milder climates may not require the most heavy-duty gutters available.

Green Gutter Costs

As briefly mentioned above, the cost of gutters is an important factor, and is affected mainly by the material choice and the size of the roof line. According to, the estimated average cost of gutter material by lineal foot is as follows:

  • Vinyl: $3-$5
  • Galvanized Steel: $4-$8
  • Aluminum: $4-$9
  • Wood: $12-$20
  • Copper: $15-$25

Additional gutter costs can include the installation of downspouts, gutter hoods, and individual gutter contractor service fees. During the gutter installation or repair, contractors can also install or attach other green gutter additions like rainwater recycling systems, rainwater collection barrels etc. These will add to total green gutter project costs.

Other Green Gutter Considerations

Rainwater harvesting, rainwater recycling and rain gardens are all ways you can better utilize your gutters to contribute to overall green living efforts. Stormwater runoff, and its inherent and accumulated contaminants can, over time, lead to the saturation of natural groundwater systems with chemicals and pesticides. By correctly diverting this water to appropriate sources, or reusing the water, you can help diminish local water contamination problems and alleviate related environmental damage.

One gutter device that can be installed in existing gutters, and greatly helps keep systems clear and clog-free is called the RainTube. A recycled plastic insert that can be placed in gutter systems of all sizes, RainTubes help eliminate the buildup of leaves, debris and other excess materials, while allowing water to flow through gutters uninhibited. The device earned the 2008 Sustainable Product Award from Green Building Pages, a Global Climate Change Award, and is reportedly low-cost and fairly simple to install.

Green Gutter Installation

No matter what type of green gutter materials and accessories you choose for your home, it's highly advised to hire a professional gutter contractor to perform any installations, replacements or gutter cleanings as needed. While you may be perfectly capable of pulling off a successful DIY gutter project, you are risking installation problems, possible damage to existing roof or gutter systems, and at worst, personal injury.

A licensed home remodeler and gutter specialist will be able to perform your green gutter project right the first time, and even make useful suggestions for choosing the ideal materials and fixtures to suit your home improvement needs. Enlisting professional gutter assistance is especially recommended if you're wanting to install attached systems for rainwater harvesting and recycling.

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