There is no limit to the actionable steps you can take to make your home ecologically friendly. Making sustainable decisions—from flooring to windows—can save you money in the long run, provide a healthier indoor environment and use less of the planet’s natural resources. Here are nine eco-friendly home improvements that are gaining in popularity.
If your home still has an older rotary thermostat, it may be time to replace it with a programmable one.
A standard thermostat can only be controlled via a simple temperature setting, keeping a consistent temperature inside your home whether you are home or away.
Standard thermostats can also stress and wear down your HVAC system by overworking your cooling and heating units.
Older thermostats also contain mercury that is a hassle to dispose of properly. A programmable thermostat can be tailored to your schedule, leading to lower energy costs without sacrificing comfort. By installing a programmable thermostat, it can be set to produce less air conditioning or heat when your home is unoccupied or while you are sleeping, ultimately using less energy. You’ll also reduce your home’s reliance on fossil fuels, lessening your impact on the environment.
Many energy companies throughout the country offer rebates or discounts for customers that replace a traditional thermostat for a programmable one.
When it comes to replacing your flooring, there are countless options. However, if you want to use sustainable materials, there are many options from which to choose.
Green bamboo flooring has a very similar look and feel when compared to wood. Bamboo is a renewable resource as it proliferates every three to five years.
Cork is another renewable natural resource that is eco-friendly, durable, and has superb acoustic and thermal characteristics when used as flooring.
Specific hardwoods including Brazilian Cherry grow in South America and are considered a sustainable resource as they are harvested in replanted forests. It’s an engineered wood that is free of formaldehyde adhesives, is resilient and harder than oak.
Buy Reclaimed Wood
Using reclaimed or salvaged lumber during your green remodel is an environmentally-friendly choice for flooring, countertops, walls, and more.
Reclaimed wood is a renewable resource that is exceptionally durable, helps curb deforestation, reduces landfill waste and reduces the impact of manufacturing new products. There are many companies throughout the country that specialize in obtaining building materials, including wood, from homes that will be dismantled or torn down entirely.
Install a Tankless Water Heater
Swapping out your traditional water heater for a tankless one saves energy, reduces carbon emissions, and can ultimately conserve water as they only run on-demand.
They can also last longer as well as take up less space in a landfill. Tankless water heaters are available in both gas or electric versions and many can be installed either inside or outside of your home. Electric models typically cost less however gas is usually more cost-effective than electricity.
Focus on the Bathroom
It’s been reported that approximately 27% of household water is used in toilets.
There are tons of eco-friendly home improvements you can do that have to do with your bathroom. To reduce the amount of water your household uses on a daily basis, contemplate installing low-volume and dual-flush mechanism toilets. You may also want to think about swapping out your shower and sink faucets with low-flow devices in an effort to save even more water.
A cost-effective way to update a room is to paint the walls and ceiling with a new, fresh coat of paint.
But not all paint is created equal.
Many conventional oil-based paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can emit toxins for years, possibly causing respiratory issues as well as contributing to air pollution. Using low or zero VOC paint that is water-based is healthier for inhabitants, does not contribute to indoor air contamination, and do not give off gases that are harmful to the environment. It’s important to note that unused paint should never be poured down a sink drain as doing so can contaminate local streams and pollute ponds. To properly dispose of paint in an eco-friendly manner, leave the can open until the paint becomes solid waste.
Another option is to mix the unused paint with a hardening agent such as kitty litter.
When shopping for new appliances, including a refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, and ceiling fan, look for those that are the most energy efficient.
Products of this type are marked with an Energy Star sticker, usually on the front of the appliance. Since 1992, Energy Star has served as a voluntary labeling program backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that allows consumers to identify energy-efficient appliances.
It has been estimated that the increase purchasing of Energy Star appliances has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 billion tons.
Upgrade Your Windows
It’s estimated that nearly 30% of heating and cooling energy is lost through closed windows and doors.
Replacing your current windows with ones that are dual-paned offers insulation against the elements and improved soundproofing qualities.
Dual-paned windows are available in several types including air-filled, gas-filled and silver-coated with each resulting in better thermal performance, helping keep heat inside during the colder months and outside in the summer.
Refresh Instead of Replace
Refurbishing materials rather than replacing them is an important component of making eco-friendly home improvements.
If you have interior or exterior masonry that has become outdated, or you’re simply tired of the brick color, you may want to have it stained instead of replacing it.
BrickImaging is a leader in brick, block, stone, and mortar recoloring and have been updating the appearance of masonry for more than 45 years. The company’s exclusive Stayntech® masonry stains come in a variety of colors, providing a refreshed and consistent finish that is permanent and will never chip, blister or peel like paint.