Green Ideas for Your Next Home Remodel

Home remodeling projects are major endeavors to take on. You have probably been saving funds and making plans to improve your home, and now you are ready to dive in. Before you do, consider how you can improve your home and its systems while also having a positive impact on the environment.

Install Energy Efficient Appliances

A great way to help the environment and lower your power bill at the same time is to install energy-efficient appliances. New, energy-efficient dishwashers save thousands of gallons less water than older models. Energy-efficient washing machines tend to use on average 40 to 50 percent less energy than their counterparts. Efficient refrigerators use both less energy and less water. Look for the Energy Star seal on appliances to be sure you are getting the most energy-efficient models. Installing energy-efficient appliances can also have a positive impact on your property value.

Replace Your Windows

Your current windows may not be sufficient to keep air from outside out of your home. Poor weatherstripping, wood that has worn over time, or rusted metal, are some of the reasons why your windows are not performing at their best. Older windows can also cause your home to heat up faster in the summer, and stay colder in the winter. With technology improvements over the last few years, windows can be incredibly energy efficient, without being an eyesore. Double-glazed windows with high-performing glass can improve your energy usage. Replacing your windows can save you hundreds of dollars on your energy bill. Even with new windows, you should use interior window treatments and coverings, like curtains, plantation shutters, or blinds. 

Improve Insulation

Another way to improve the energy efficiency of your home is to improve your insulation. You can improve your insulation in small ways, like sealing cracks or holes in your exterior walls, and weatherstripping your windows and doors. If you live in an older home, or your house is underinsulated, you may consider removing the drywall and redoing the insulation in portions of your home, or the entire house. One sign your home may be under insulated is if there are drastic changes in temperature from room to room.

Use Environmentally Friendly Materials

Before you go ahead and purchase the first materials you see at your local hardware store, consider the environmental impact of those materials. Many kitchen cabinets contain formaldehyde, which, although common in household items, is actually toxic. Look for cabinets that do not contain it. Paint is a common remodel material that can contain toxins. Using paint free of volatile organic compounds can keep your custom home green. Plastic products may be cheap, but these can often include dangerous chemicals like BPAs. For your bathroom remodel, natural ceramic and nontoxic cement are good options for sink basins. Search for products made from natural materials that are free of harmful chemicals.

Install Solar Panels

Solar panels are a great way to save money on energy by harnessing the power of the sun. Using solar power reduces both air pollution and water usage. By making your home less reliant on fossil fuels, you will make a dent in climate change. Installing solar panels has become easier than ever, and there are likely qualified installers in your area. They will be able to help you determine the number and size of panels you need, as well as where to place them on your roof to maximize their benefits. Your city or state may offer incentives for installing solar, and you may be eligible for a federal solar tax credit. 

Improve Water Usage in the Bathroom

It is estimated that close to a third of the water usage in your home comes from toilets alone. If you want to improve water use in your house, you may want to start in your bathroom. Your current sink and shower can be replaced by low-flow devices. You can save a lot of water in your toilet by installing dual flush or low-volume toilets. Shortening the amount of time you spend in the shower is an easy way to use less water.

Reuse or Repurpose

If you are planning on remodeling one or more rooms in your home, consider what items you already have that can be reused. Maybe there is a chair or couch that you can restrain the wood and or re-upholster the fabric. Consider stopping at a thrift or antique store and finding an older item you can repurpose. Your kitchen cabinets may not need to be completely replaced. Sanding them down and giving them a fresh coat of paint with new hardware can change the look of your kitchen by working with what you have. Furniture waste is a huge problem in this country, so try and make a dent in it by reusing and repurposing whenever you can. Buying pre-owned home items can also save you a lot of money.

Salvage and Recycle What You Can

If you are doing major renovations to rooms in your home like the kitchen or bathrooms, your impulse may be to demolish it all and throw it in the dumpster. Before you take a sledgehammer to your cabinets, consider whether any of the materials you are getting rid of can be salvaged and recycled. If your old bathtub and sink are in good condition, consider carefully removing them and donating them. Local organizations in your area may be able to install these pieces in homes of those that cannot afford new fixtures. This way you will be doing a good thing and saving materials from going to the landfill.

Your home remodeling projects do not need to be filled with waste or involve harsh toxins or chemicals. There are so many ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home while saving money at the same time. You will not have to sacrifice on quality either, as many energy-certified, or green and natural materials and products actually perform better in homes than traditional materials and products.

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