When the time comes to update your homestead, you have a tremendous opportunity. Here’s your chance to be the change you want to see in the world by making the most sustainable choices you can for your renovation. The right eco-friendly tips benefit the planet while providing impressive perks for its human inhabitants.
You might not have the time or budget to do everything you want all at once. However, you can take the measures possible within your power while making smart choices that pave the way for future sustainability improvements. What should you consider? Here’s how to renovate responsibly with these eight tips for eco-friendly home improvement.
Why Eco-Friendly Home Improvement?
One reason an environmentally friendly home renovation matters is that there is no planet B. So, protecting your home and keeping it safe and healthy only makes sense. Construction contributes to 39% of carbon dioxide emissions and 36% of final energy use. Every effort to decrease these concerns is a win for the Earth’s health.
On an individual level, eco-friendly practices can save you money. While certain upgrades might cost more for the initial installation, they help you save over time. Reduce your bills with sustainable energy alternatives, or better insulate your home to make heating and cooling more efficient.
If you’re renovating your home to sell in the near future, eco-friendly swaps also give you an edge over the competition. With 48% of people prioritizing energy efficiency in their home searches, you can sell quicker and see an increase in your home’s value with environmentally conscious upgrades, as well.
8 Tips for Eco-Friendly Renovations
You’re sold on the benefits of renovating responsibly and ready to plan your build. Here are eight tips to consider in your design to keep your plans eco-friendly throughout the construction process and make your home more sustainable overall.
1. Go Reclaimed
Raw materials take energy to harvest and process. They also deplete resources. Reclaimed materials make use of existing objects, putting them together in new ways.
Know that purchasing reclaimed isn’t necessarily less expensive. That’s because of the cost of removing them intact and treating them for damage. However, some materials are easier to reuse than others — for example, steel, brick and stone. Additionally, finding a property where you can do the work keeps money in your wallet while letting you preserve that gorgeous historic mantlepiece. One simple example is restoring your kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them.
2. Utilize Recycled Materials
Recycled materials are also more sustainable because they reduce the harvesting of resources. Although the final product you purchase may contain a blend of raw and recycled matter, substances like glass and porcelain can be recycled a fair amount, creating a stylish look that uses less energy to produce and protects the environment now and over time.
Think creatively. For example, today’s rubber floors hardly resemble a gym interior. Although manufacturers may use recycled tires, the finished product looks as sleek as tile while providing a far more comfortable standing surface as you cook, making them ideal for kitchen remodels or smaller spaces like laundry rooms and mudrooms.
3. Choose Sustainable Materials
Although lumber is renewable, trees take a long time to grow. Additionally, the Earth currently needs to save as many trees as possible to mitigate climate change. Whenever possible, choose more sustainable materials that don’t take as long to replace and tread more lightly on the planet, such as:
- Bamboo: Some species of this plant grow up to three feet per day.
- Cork: This material comes from the tree bark, and harvesting it does not kill the parent tree.
- Hemp: Although a bit tough to find at the moment, the 2018 Farm Bill passage paved the way for increased production of this sustainable building material.
Your home uses less energy when you don’t waste it. Even simple measures such as adding weather stripping to doors and windows to stop drafts can slash your energy bill while treading more lightly on the planet. For more in-depth renovations, swap out old, drafty windows with low-emissivity options.
It’s also important to choose the right insulating materials. Some, such as blown-in polystyrene, create environmental harm. Other, more sustainable insulation choices include:
- Low-density wood fiber
- Mineral wool
5. Be Passive
How can you take advantage of the sun’s energy if you can’t currently afford to upgrade to panels? Use passive solar principles in your responsible renovation to add light and heat to your home in an eco-friendly way.
It all begins with window treatments, especially on your south and west sides. In the winter, you want the light and heat to stream through, so pull back or remove heavy curtains, replacing them with sheer gauze or a one-way film. In summer, you want to block the heat. Film does a great job of this while preserving your view, but you can also use curtains or shutters to block the brightest rays.
Eco-friendly home improvements don’t stop at your front door. They extend to your lawn. Leaf blowers require fossil fuels, produce emissions and make one heck of an annoying racket. They’re also utterly unnecessary. Leaves supply valuable minerals back into the soil and provide habitats for multiple critters — leave them be.
While you’re at it, kick your lawnmower to the curb. Instead, take back your weekend while helping the planet by xeriscaping — using native plants with stones to beautify your landscape. You might need to weed two or three times during the growing season. That’s it. Then, your time is yours to use as you wish.
7. Consider Green Energy
If it’s time for a roof replacement anyway, consider switching to solar. Doing so is one of the best ways to green your carbon footprint, and the recently extended tax credits let you recoup much of the value — a deal you won’t get with a traditional replacement.
Plus, going solar keeps your family powered if the grid goes down when done right. While full-grid systems power down during outages to avoid sending electricity back over damaged wires, hybrid systems function on batteries in an emergency.
8. Be Smart
Finally, smart home upgrades can save you considerable money and energy, making them eco-friendly. For example, a 1-degree adjustment in your thermostat saves 2% to 3% on your utility bills.
Did you forget to adjust that dial before leaving for vacation? Do it from your smartphone. You can also dim the lights and check that your coffee pot isn’t percolating in your absence.
Eco-Friendly Home Improvements and Renovations
Renovations provide a welcome opportunity for you to showcase your commitment to sustainability. Making the right eco-friendly choices makes you healthier, saves you money and protects the home all people share — planet Earth.
Renovate responsibly by implementing these eco-friendly tips. You’ll feel better about your finished home and can use your expertise to help others upgrade their properties sustainably.