Planning an Eco-Minded Home Renovation
Eco-friendly home-building and remodeling trends show that more than half of builders predict about 60 percent of their house construction will be green by 2020, with more than a third of remodelers saying their projects will be green.
If you’re one of those homeowners who’s currently navigating the uncharted waters of green building renovations, keep in mind you don’t need to completely overhaul your home and replace everything to make it greener.
So if you’re ready to go green (at least partially) or go home, here a few tips on your path to sustainability:
Do an Energy Audit
If you have drafty windows and doors, outdated appliances, and an old air conditioning and heating system, you’ll want to look into upgrading in these areas, as it will save you money in the long run. Looking at ways to bring in more natural light, like installing a kitchen, bedroom or attic skylight, is another way to cut down on electricity.
The average American household pays about $2,150 on energy bills, but those bills can be reduced by 30-60 percent with items like sustainable appliances, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
You can hire a professional to do an audit for you to determine problems, where you are wasting energy, and offer solutions. As recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy, go to the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) directory.
“Every remodel should start with an energy audit — these are incredibly helpful in-home tutorials on how your house uses (and wastes) energy,” says HealthyGreenSavvy’s Susannah Shmurak. “Often they are heavily subsidized by energy companies and will give you free light bulbs, water savings devices, even programmable thermostats and install them for free.”
According to HomeAdvisor, a home energy audit can be as cheap as $100 up to $1,650. The average cost is $397, with most homeowners spending between $212 to $625.
Getting Energy Star appliances is one way to ensure your appliances are sustainable. Energy Staris an EPA-based, voluntary program that helps people save money through better energy use.
Choosing the Right Materials
If you’re concerned about where your building materials are coming from and want to offset your home’s carbon footprint, consider buying locally sourced products:
- Buying local supports your community’s businesses and keeps money in the local economy.
- The local professionals also know what types of materials will work best in your home depending on how where you live in the country, the climate, and what style of house you own.
- Plus, if your materials aren’t being trucked and shipped across the country you can feel good about the fact that far less energy and fuel is being used to get products to your doorstep.
Homeowners are choosing more natural materials in construction and remodeling, not only for environmental concerns and health, but because of durability. “A wool rug will outlive a synthetic rug by about 45 years,” according to article on Green Home Guide. “In the same manner, natural linoleum lasts twice as long as vinyl flooring. Granite is one of the most popular countertop materials since it can last for generations.”
Bamboo flooring is another eco-friendly optionbecause bamboo can grow in as little as 5 to 7 years, compared to the 30 years it takes hardwoods to grow. Bamboo is extremely durable, too. Generally, a strand-woven bamboo surface never needs to be refinished.
Look for materials that will not emit toxic fumes and chemicals into the air, because all sustainable products are not the same. Greenguard certified products, for example, are designed for indoor uses and meet strict chemical emissions limits.
Haul It Out
Even after the work is done, you want to stay true to your green mission throughout the clean-up process. Have you thought about what to do with your old materials? What is recyclable? What’s trash?
You may need to rent a roll-off container or a dumpsterand hire a company to take it away instead of driving a half dozen pickup truck loads of debris to the dump. Save yourself time and energy by researching your options.
Instead of buying those disposable black plastic contractor bags, you can actually buy reusable construction demo bags. Green construction companies use these bags because it’s better for the environment and they save money in the process. If you do hire a company to haul your garbage, be sure to ask what products they are using.
There are a lot of steps to take into account from beginning to end when doing a green remodel — everything from an energy audit to purchasing materials, products, and appliances to getting rid of the waste. Cost, durability, and energy consumption are all factors in the green home renovation process.