8 Eco-Friendly Ways to Renovate Your Home
Whether home is a sprawling Victorian or a cozy ranch, there’s room to boost its eco-friendliness and energy efficiency. From small touches to major renovations, you can start making changes to your home that are good for the environment and your pocketbook.
There are opportunities in each room and level of renovation for you to incorporate eco-friendly concepts.
Here are a few general things to keep in mind as you plan.
Every homeowner knows that you’ll get the biggest “bang for your buck” when you remodel the kitchen. This is because kitchen remodels tend to increase the home’s value by a significant amount. If you add eco-friendly and energy efficient touches, you stand to keep more of your money in your own pocket (or pass the savings on to the new homeowner in the case of a sale).
Here are a few tips for keeping your kitchen remodel green:
- Install a water filter – This will eliminate the need to rely on disposable plastic water bottles, which will save you money and benefit the environment.
- Place windows where the most natural light shines through – When you can take advantage of natural light, you’ll rely less on electricity and can benefit from the natural warmth.
- Keep your refrigerator in a cool spot – Ideally, plan to place your refrigerator away from windows, the oven or any other heat source. This will help keep the energy bill down.
When remodeling your bathroom, you may have more eco-friendly choice than you realize. For example, you have great opportunity to cut down on water waste in the bathrooms of your home. If you’re planning a bathroom renovation, consider these green ideas:
- Replace toilets with low-flowing ones
- Add flow governors to the shower and sinks
- Use recycled tiles and other materials
Because you’re essentially starting from scratch, there are many opportunities to make a new addition environmentally friendly. Here are just a few ideas:
- Keep the square footage small – It’s tempting to add more than you may need, but keeping it small will help you use less energy.
- Install ceiling fans – Not only can they cool the air in the summer, but they can help push hot air downward in the winter.
- Pay attention to the sun – Take advantage of natural heating from the sun to help keep your energy usage down.
Even if you aren’t planning a full kitchen or bath remodel, you can still boost the eco-friendliness of your home with some smaller projects. Here are 8 ideas to make your home more eco-friendly:
- Install solar panels – Solar panels work by transferring the energy from the sun’s rays into usable solar energy that can provide heat, light, hot water, electricity and cooling for your home. If you’re worried about appearances, know that you’ll be in good company with a solar panel installation. You’ll find them on some of the world’s most famous buildings; even the White House has solar panels!
- Replace old appliances – Choose appliances with a high Energy Star rating. They are likely to use much less energy than your old appliances, and you can often find reasonably-priced models. You may even qualify for a rebate or federal tax credit.
- Resurface instead of replacing cabinets – If you have solid wood cabinets already installed in your kitchen, you can save money on the remodeling project by resurfacing instead of replacing. If you feel you want or need all new cabinets, consider formaldehyde-free cabinetry to avoid any potential environmental toxins. If possible, choose wood certified as sustainably harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
- Add insulation to your home – Many older homes aren’t as well-insulated as homes that are being built today, so you may see a significant reduction in your energy usage by adding insulation to your home. In addition to any savings, this renovation may also qualify you for a tax credit.
- Energy Star Qualified Windows – With Energy Star Qualified windows, you can use less energy to heat and cool your home, which also reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. With this renovation, you may also qualify for a federal tax credit.
- Install eco-friendly countertops – If all you want is to give your kitchen a design lift with minimal impact on the environment, consider replacing the kitchen countertop with an eco-friendly material. There are some stunning alternatives to granite available today, including recycled countertops that use glass, paper and cork. The result will refresh your old, damaged counters with a cool new eco-conscious look.
- Reclaimed wood or bamboo flooring – When it’s time to update things like hardwood flooring, your choices are important. Since you care about the environment, you’ll want to opt for reclaimed wood or a sustainable option like bamboo. There’s enough wood in circulation that we don’t need to cut down trees for a simple flooring makeover.
- Cool roofing – If you live in an urban area, you’re probably intimately familiar with how hot it can get on a roof. Those rooftop pools are refreshing, but you’ll want to spend most of your time in the water. But the fact of the matter is that some roofing options are cooler than others. And since we all have to replace our roofing every 10 years or so, maybe it’s time to start using a cooler alternative. Materials such as metal and ceramic have more of a cooling effect on the home than asphalt tiles. Also, the color of your roof matters. Just like you feel hotter when you wear black clothes in the summer, your roof is also hotter with black tiles. To keep your home as cool as possible, install a white roof.
There are many things to consider when planning home renovations, and environmental friendliness is one of them. Not only will eco-friendly choices have an impact on the planet, but they will often help you save on energy costs and may even afford you a tax credit or two. Sometimes, doing the right thing does pay off.