Home Gets Extreme Eco-Friendly Makeover

Steve Kaufman's and J.D. Doliner's house is green -- that's easy enough to see. But in this case, green is more than just a paint color.

Kaufman and Doliner spent 1½ years transforming their home into an environmentally-friendly structure to save energy and money.

"Because we're both environmentalists at heart, we knew that we had to go green," Kaufman said.

In perhaps 10 years, through energy savings alone, they expect to make up their project expenses. But going green can cost a lot up front, so they tried to do their home makeover as economically as possible.

"If you reuse a lot of the materials and you're very smart in how you plan the space, it doesn't necessarily have to cost more," Doliner said.

One cost-saving technique was to reuse materials from their old house -- and others.

"Every time they pull a piece of wood or anything out of the house, I say, look, can you reuse that?" Doliner said. "These butcher block countertops were on their way into a dumpster. Someone said, 'Hey guy, don't throw those away.' And sure enough, we saved a couple thousand dollars on countertops."

Recycled Materials

Another strategy was to buy recycled materials. Their roof looks like it's slate, but it's actually made from old rubber tires.

"They say that there's a 50-year guarantee on it," Kaufman said. "But the experts say, 'Fifty years? This is a forever roof.' "

Their floor also came from recycled material.

"It's the structural lumber from a tobacco factory in Tennessee," Kaufman said. "And you can even see the saw marks in it. There's a lot of history here."

Since the main goal of the home-makeover was to make the house energy efficient, Doliner and Kaufman insulated it with a material that's 50 percent soy. They call it their "sprayed-in tofu." They also installed several solar panels, which are helping to bring down their power bill as low as $7 a month.

Now, they feel pressure in their daily lives to be as environmentally friendly as their house. They use biodegradable diapers and make an effort to do laundry during the day, "because we're not really paying for anything to heat that water. It's the sun that's actually heating it," Kaufman said.

How to Make Your Home More Environmentally Friendly

When it's time to replace any appliance in your house, look for one that meets Energy Star standards. Energy Star refrigerators use half as much power as older refrigerators. Energy Star dishwashers use 25 percent less and also far less water than conventional dishwashers.

Replace windows with Energy Star-rated windows. They will keep your home warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer and protect your belongings from harmful sunlight. Plus, you can get up to a $200 tax credit for installing them.

If you are re-painting your home, look for less-toxic paint. Now, paint without the typical chemicals that can cause health problems for some people is available in a spectrum of colors, so you're not giving anything up style-wise.

ABC News' Elisabeth Leamy originally reported this story for "Good Morning America."