If you’re looking to make some improvements to your home, it’s very important to consider how these upgrades can help your space be more eco-friendly and more energy-efficient. Not only does using sustainable or recycled materials, or even swapping out old appliances for more efficient ones, help the world around you, they’ll also save you big money on your bills. Plus, many states offer rebates or tax credits for eco-friendly improvements, so be sure to check your local laws to see how you can benefit. Want to know more about what environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient options are available for your home? Listed below are 5 big and little improvements you definitely need to consider to make your home a “greener” place to live.
Energy Audit- When you start engaging in a remodeling project, one of the first things to check off the list is an energy audit. This helps you identify some of the most cost effective ways to make your home more sustainable, and those shifts can easily be incorporated into the changes throughout the rest of the renovation process. Studies show that 20% of carbon emissions come from existing housing stock. By incorporating energy audits into the renovation process, not only will you end up with economical savings, but you will also contribute to the larger home emissions issue. This will help make your home easier to maintain as well as reduce your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win situation for both you and the environment!
Flooring – If you are replacing floors, consider durable and natural surfaces such as tile, stone, cork, resilient flooring (linoleum, cork), harvested wood (certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forest Initiative), bamboo, or exposed stained concrete. Tile, stone, and exposed concrete are good retainers for coolness. Carpet has no thermal mass so the floor will be warmer in the summer. Depending on use and application, carpets can be a source of allergens and contribute to an unhealthy indoor environment.
Energy Star Appliances- Energy Star Appliances use anywhere between 10-50% less energy than standard appliances — not to mention that they also use less water, emit fewer greenhouse gasses, and have longer life spans as well. Although the initial cost of the appliance might be a bit more than you’d like to spend, you’ll save big bucks in the long run on your energy and electric bills. To top it off, each appliance comes with an energy guide, so you’ll know exactly how eco-friendly your new investment will be.
Windows – South-facing windows offer a great opportunity to absorb free energy (winter sunlight) while north-facing windows provide uniform lighting throughout the year. East- and west-facing windows are subjected to intense morning and afternoon sunlight causing significant summer heat gain. Consider installing low-e double pane windows for at least the east and west windows. Look for a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of 0.25 or less. As a least-cost alternative, consider exterior shading devices such as an overhang (at least 10 feet on east/west exposures), vertical/horizontal louvers, screen wall, trellis and/or vegetation ncluding trees
Eco-Friendly Deck Material- Replacing an old deck, or building a new one? While recycled or sustainable woods are decent eco-friendly options, another great idea is to use recycled plastic lumber, which is made from materials that would otherwise be sitting in landfills. Plastic lumber also won’t warp or rot like traditional wood, meaning you won’t have to spend more over the years to replace or refinish damaged boards. If your deck is high off the ground, look for plastic lumbers that are reinforced with steel or fiberglass to ensure that they’ll be strong enough to handle heavy wear and traffic.
Kitchen Cabinets- Sustainable kitchen cabinets are made from wood and wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to be produced using sustainable forest management practices. They feature formaldehyde-free glues and finishes with low volatile organic compounds that give off little or no toxic fumes. Check product literature closely to ensure the cabinets you choose meet these criteria.
When shopping for cabinets, ask if the cabinet boxes are built with wheat board or straw board. These products are made from agricultural waste, such as the chaff left over from farmers’ wheat crops. As a rule, they feature formaldehyde-free binders. They’re strong and rated to exceed the standards set by the American National Standards Institute for medium density particleboard—the material commonly used to make cabinet boxes.
For more information on how Pearl Remodeling can make your summer project more eco-friendly, call us at (800)742-3585 or email us at [email protected]