There are so many things to consider when planning home renovations, and a green-friendly approach to home improvements is an important option for reducing your family’s impact on the environment.
Eco-friendly home renovations help your family enjoy a cleaner and safer home, and they also reduce your utility bills and create value for your home when you decide to sell. There are endless ways you can “go green” with your next renovation project.
Replacing Small and Large Appliances
Each year, manufacturers dream up new ways to save energy and resources with the operation of common appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, toilets, and air conditioners. In fact, advancements with air conditioning units have come so far in the past decade that today’s machines are markedly more efficient that those installed in the early 2000s.
For any medium to large renovation project, you’ll want to think about replacing everything you can with ENERGY STAR rated products. Each year, the Environmental Protection Agency puts out a list of the most efficient appliances. You’ll want to head to the Energy Star website to see what appliances will help reduce your home’s energy consumption.
The EPA also says:
“…energy efficiency will save you money, allowing you to invest in other green technologies to make your home more healthy, comfortable and sustainable.”
Tip: Don’t forget to recycle your old appliances! The metal is usually worth something at the recycler, and it’s important that these machines don’t end up in a landfill somewhere.
Trendy Accents with Vintage Flair
While new appliances often offer the best opportunity to save money on your utilities, the other features of your home might be most green friendly when they’re purchased through a salvage or antique opportunity.
For example, you might think about a vintage sink used with a new, water-efficient faucet in a matching vintage style. You won’t use any materials to create your “new” sink, and your faucet will reduce your water consumption.
“Don’t forget a dose of the unexpected! Metal street signs are a fun way to spice up an interior, but consider displaying them in an unconventional way. Rather than mounting them neatly on the wall, try incorporating them as part of the wall. Don’t be afraid to group and overlap, as the result is interesting, and subtle, yet powerful.”
Choosing Safe Materials for Renovation
Another way to create an earth friendly home is to consider the materials used for your renovation. Using recycled or reclaimed materials is terrific, as is installing eco-friendly appliances.
However, it’s also important to think about materials like the flooring and paint used in your home. For example, some paints have a label that says “low-VOC” or “no-VOC.” These “volatile organic compounds” reduce air quality in your home when used in large quantities.
Make sure your renovator is using paint that doesn’t have high levels of VOCs. In addition, be aware of the materials used for features like carpeting and flooring in your home.
Better Homes & Gardens shares a variety of items in your home that can be made from renewable and recyclable materials:
“Linoleum and natural-fiber carpets come from renewable resources and are durable. The cork used in linoleum is harvested from the cork tree without damaging it. Carpet-type flooring made from grasses and reeds is available. Hardwood, bamboo, stone, and ceramic tile are other choices.”
Help Another Family: Donate
Hopefully, you’ve chosen new features and appliances for your home that have a low impact on the environment as far as their construction and energy use are concerned. You should also take a look at what you’re replacing and whether those items can also be reused.
Perhaps you have some fixtures in your bathroom that would look terrific in a vintage restoration, but which no longer fit with your home’s overall theme. There are a variety of organizations to which you can donate these extra items, particularly if they’re in good condition.
Freshome suggests investigating options like Habitat for Humanity.
“Not only do they welcome all unwanted materials, but they sell all donations, and 100% of the proceeds from these materials are used to build new homes for the underprivileged.”
Unless you have to undertake asbestos abatement or other particularly destructive renovations, there’s a good chance the old pieces from your home can find a new life somewhere else.
Looking for Advice on Eco-Friendly Home Renovations?
If you’d like to get started on an eco-friendly home renovation plan, you’ll want to download our FREE eBook: Seven Questions to Ask When Choosing a Remodeler in the Indianapolis Area.