Keen to renovate your home? A green renovation is more friendly on your bank account and the planet. By using more energy-efficient, low-tox, biodegradable and recycled materials in your next renovation project, you’ll lessen your impact on the environment. Here are some green building ideas that are as economical as they are environmental.
1. Passive design
Some see their homes as a means of blocking the environment from their lives. They want a distinct separation from home and the outside world. However, the natural environment can help make your home greener. Use passive design to make your home more efficient. Passive design refers to the use of the sun’s natural rays for the heating and cooling of your home. Naturally, it takes the climate into consideration. According to the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme, integrating passive design into home renovations increases the home’s efficiency without raising costs.
Here’s how you can make the most of passive design:
- If you live in colder winter climates, place more windows on the north side to absorb heat from the sun and naturally warm those rooms.
- Install eaves over north-facing windows to shade them from the summer sun and help keep these rooms cooler.
- If you live in a warmer area, relocate more living spaces to the south side where temperatures will naturally be cooler
- Insulation also preserves the internal temperature of your home without the outside temperatures causing dramatic changes and increasing energy use.
2. Planet-friendly flooring
The floor covering in your home can add or detract from your home’s efficiency. Consider natural materials that draw heat in. Concrete and brick absorb heat during the day, cooling warm rooms in the summer. It’s best to install these thermal masses in sunny locations, where they can draw the most heat from the room. During the winter, these same dense materials protect a room from getting too cold from outside temperatures.
If you’d prefer a softer flooring option, consider sustainable materials. Bamboo grows quickly enough that even when cut down for flooring, the forests restore themselves. Reclaimed hardwood is another choice if you prefer a more traditional design. This choice does not require cutting down new trees. It’s a recycled wood that helps cut down on landfill space while giving your home the wood flooring you desire.
Related Post: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Green Home
3. Green roofs
What you put on top of your home is just as important to energy savings as the materials inside. A greener roof option is one that will last the lifetime of your home and can accommodate solar panels. Cool metal roofing has a reflective surface. This keeps heat from going into your home. The result is a 20 percent reduction in your energy costs. These steel roofs are also 100 percent recyclable, unlike traditional asphalt shingles.
To make an even greener use of your roof, consider installing solar panels. Though home solar systems require an initial investment, you could cut your energy costs drastically. Some solar panel users even eliminate their electricity bills entirely by going off-grid or producing more energy than the home consumes. You’ll also lower your carbon footprint with solar while saving money over time. As with any major exterior renovation, check with your local laws to see if you need special permits to install solar panels on your home’s rooftop.
4. Sustainable kitchen
Kitchen counters need to be durable, but the popular stone materials may not be as eco-friendly as you think if you consider resource extraction and transportation. For the lowest environmental impact, opt for a kitchen made from recycled materials or items from demolition sites. There are companies that create recycled glass counters made with between 85 and 100 percent recycled glass. Though this is a pricey option, at around $50 per square foot, it offers a way to use recycled glass in your home and you’ll have a talking point with guests.
Paper countertops do exist, but they are not what you think. Recycled paper gets bound together with a hard resin that’s durable. Additionally, the installation costs for this type of counter are much lower than others, and it costs less than recycled glass. The downside to this material is its relative newness, which makes it difficult to find stockists who supply this sustainable material.
5. Go low VOCs to no VOCs
VOCs, volatile organic compounds, pollute the air in your home. These potentially carcinogenic compounds may be twice as high inside your home as outside. Being around VOCs can cause eye and lung irritation, nausea and headaches. To avoid creating an environmental health hazard in your home, choose low or no VOC paints. You and your home will be healthier.
VOCs are not just in paints, though. Flooring, varnishes and other building materials may contain VOCs. Educate yourself on the contents of all products you put into your home. During remodeling, keep your home well-ventilated to encourage VOCs to dissipate.
5. Weather any conditions by weatherizing
Insulation contributes to a more comfortable, energy-efficient home. Insulation is not just installed in your walls and roof. Light fixtures, outlets and switches all need insulation, too. Check with an electrical store for specialty insulated boxes for these. Doing so will protect it from air leaks while reducing fire hazards. If you have heating in your foundation slab, insulate the edges to prevent heat loss, but add a termite barrier outside the insulation.
Weathering your home goes beyond adding insulation. You’ll need to seal any cracks around windows or doors to help maintain the interior temperature of your home when you don’t want to open windows and doors for ventilation. Sealing air leaks around the home and installing adequate insulation in the attic and walls can cut heating and cooling costs by an average of 15 percent.
6. Keep termites away – naturally
Termites are the bane of any homeowner, but you don’t necessarily have to resort to chemical insecticides. Some, such as organochlorines in Australia, have proven so dangerous they’ve been banned from use. Though more environmentally friendly options exist, it’s best to not need them in the first place.
Your home’s design can naturally keep termites out. Consider this during your next home renovation. Don’t allow soil near your home’s foundation, and be mindful of placing trees and plants too close to your home. You don’t want to encourage anything that provides pathways for termites to reach your home, where they can begin to damage the structure. Instead, have a layer of crushed rock or mesh around your home to block the termites and keep all trees and plants pruned and tidy to make it easier to see termite trails.
Remodeling a green home will help you reduce your home’s energy costs and raise its resale value, while making it more comfortable to live in. Try these ideas on for size, or if you’ve got some good ones, feel free to share in the comment section below.