It's often said that charity should begin at home. What better way to do that than by opting for green interiors? Sustainable and eco-friendly interior design is climbing up the popularity charts, displaying increasing awareness and concern for the environment.

In fact, more and more residences are turning into smart homes, not just in terms of technology and energy-saving devices, but also in the overall use of energy conservation and affordable interior design options. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, new American constructions have become so energy efficient that they will not need new power plants to meet the energy demands of the upcoming 60 billion square feet of new buildings by 2030.

As per the latest builder survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), energy efficiency in a building or home tops the priority chart. More homeowners are looking for Energy Star appliances and windows, programmable thermostats, and even energy-efficient security systems to drive more value into their investments.

The potential cost savings promises significant financial advantages, and this combines with sustainable values like improved indoor air quality, livability, comfort and convenience.

This efficiency is a combination of the eco-friendly furniture, green interior designs and the high-tech "smart home" industry. Since we spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors — whether at home or work — sustainable interior design can have deep impacts on both our mind and body.

Sustainable designs include optimizing functional spaces and conserving energy at every point possible, along with using design elements that contribute to a greener environment. Use of sustainable furniture, fixtures and equipment leads to a toxin-free environment with good indoor air quality, which ultimately result in good health of occupants.

Leading green interior designs include:

Using low-VOC paints: Low-VOC paints are made from mineral pigments, clay or milk casein-based materials that may be a little more expensive than traditional paints but do not emit harmful gases into interiors.

Green window treatments: These can be made from reeds and grasses, paper, natural fabric or bamboo and work naturally to regulate light and temperature across the seasons, thus bringing utility costs down.

Green flooring: Carpets and rugs made from recycled material, floors that are made from ceramic and glass waste tiles, cork or bamboo and even recycled rubber can go a long way to save the environment since fewer trees are sacrificed for hardwood flooring.

Green accessories: Today, most home accessories can be made of organic green materials, contributing easily to making your home green. For example, cushions and pillows can have recycled fiberfill, throws and sheets can be made from organic cotton and have vegetable-based ink prints on them, vases and décor items can be made from renewable materials and yet look as chic and stylish as ever.

Typically, green interiors coincide with higher-quality construction as builders and architects are working in tandem with designers and homeowners to create a sustainable living space. In the end, they offer much better value than traditional homes and are slowly but steadily transforming the residential market.

More residents are opting for healthier air to breathe rather than for a cheaper home. In reality, the construction of a green home might be costlier, but in the long run these offer more saving for the homeowner in terms of lower energy bills, improved water efficiency and smarter appliance usage. Just by installing water-efficient faucets, U.S. homes can collectively save 60 billion gallons of water annually.