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Carbon dioxide levels, global temperature, ocean temperature, and sea level are all on the rise, which means now is the time to start a greener routine. The environment is becoming more and more relevant when it comes to home improvement.
Between home building, renovations, or just updating home appliances, there are plenty of ways to upgrade your home while keeping the environment in mind.
If you are looking to build a new home, consider researching the best eco-friendly products on the market. Consult with your architect and builders to come up with a realistic plan to incorporate your new eco-friendly features. If possible, work with professionals who have experience in green building, as they will have valuable insight into the process.
The first way is to build smarter, not bigger. Larger homes require more materials, cost more to maintain, and use more energy in everyday life. By building a smaller, more efficient home, you can maximize the space to fit your needs without adding unnecessary extras. You don’t need to confine yourself to a tiny space, just a reminder that bigger isn’t always better.
Another important factor in building a house is insulation. Poorly insulated homes often waste energy when it comes to heating and cooling your space. Blue jean insulation is a great example of an eco-friendly option. This insulation is made from recycled post-consumer denim and cotton waste and has an R-Value of 13-19. It also won’t irritate the skin, nose, or throat and is formaldehyde-free. How well does it insulate? Similar to the warmth of cotton clothing, blue jean insulation holds more heat than traditional insulation and absorbs more sound. The insulation is treated with boric acid, which makes it flame retardant, and insect, pest, and mildew resistant. By selecting higher-quality insulation during the home building process, you can rest assured that you won’t be overpaying or overusing energy in your new home.
Take this opportunity to invest in green energy. Solar architecture is the process of designing structures based on harnessing solar power. Building a new home is the perfect time to incorporate green energy into the building design. Solar panels are a great and effective way to reduce your carbon footprint while also lowering your energy bills. If designed in the right way, solar panels can blend nicely into the building design, rather than adding them to an existing structure.
Landscape or green roofs are another great option for cutting costs and thinking green. Green roofs not only save money on building energy costs, but they’re beneficial when it comes to stormwater management and roof longevity. These living roofs are made up of plants that capture the rainwater and reduce the amount of water running directly into the storm sewers. Green roofs also are known to help better insulate your home, in addition to strengthening ecosystems for pollinators and native plants.
Overall, there are many ways to build a new house while placing an emphasis on the environment. Just make sure to do extensive research and involve the right people in order to make the home exactly how you want it.
Already settled in your house but looking to change things up? There are many ways to renovate your home in a more sustainable way. It’s best to have a plan before you start, so here are a few different eco-friendly remodel options.
Choose a more sustainable flooring option. While wood is a renewable resource, deforestation is a major concern in today’s current climate. This, however, does not mean that hardwood flooring is off the table. Find a wood supplier that follows sustainable planting practices. These planting practices allow for the best quality of wood to be created, without compromising the creation of new trees for new generations. Do your research to find if your supplier promotes reforestation and replants what they cut down.
Still not sure? Feel more confident by choosing oak hardwood flooring. U.S. forest management programs protect oak trees by ensuring they are planted regularly. This makes oak a more sustainable option since the trees are routinely replanted.
Not into hardwoods? Another sustainable flooring option is linoleum. Linoleum is also made from renewable materials such as limestone, wood flour, or jute. It’s fully recyclable and has a long product life expectancy. Not to mention there are many different styles and colors to choose from, so it can fit any home aesthetic.
Carpet lovers, there are still eco-friendly carpet options for you too. A majority of carpets are made from manmade, synthetic fibers such as polyester or nylon. While those carpets aren’t particularly sustainable, there are carpet alternatives made out of 100% recycled materials. These carpets are not only giving a function and purpose to post-consumer waste but also providing a sturdy and sustainable flooring option to those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
If you are looking to renovate your kitchen, there are eco-friendly updates to be made all around. Cabinets made from particleboard often contain formaldehyde, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds to be a major source of indoor air pollution. Avoid this by searching for formaldehyde-free wood and cabinet options to better your materials and air quality.
Update your kitchen with eco-friendly countertops. There are so many countertop options on the market, so look into the most sustainable ones. For a rustic or natural look, consider bamboo or reclaimed wood counters. These are natural, renewable options that provide function while also giving a kitchen character.
For a more polished aesthetic, look into sintered stone. It has a similar feel to quartz, however, it has many superior qualities. Sintered stone is made of minerals that are fused together in high heat to form a solid, scratch-resistant countertop. It cannot be burned, stained, or chipped, as the surface is virtually impenetrable. This gives the product an immeasurable life span, and it will not need to be replaced as often as other options on the market.
Upgrade the lighting in your home to a more sustainable option. First, do not overdo the number of lightbulbs. Be conscientious and intentional with the placement of lighting around your home, and utilize natural light from windows or skylights wherever possible. Energy-efficient light bulbs reduce the energy needed to light your home and cut your energy bill costs. Look into CFL and LED lighting benefits to light your home in a more eco-friendly way.
Take a look at the appliances in your home. Are they energy efficient, and serviced regularly to ensure high performance? If not, or if your appliances are at the end of their life span, look into new energy-efficient and eco-friendly replacements.
Before investing in new appliances, make sure they’re protected with the right home warranty policy. By purchasing a home warranty, you may be eligible for coverage on anything from your furnace to your garbage disposal. Give yourself a little peace of mind knowing that your home appliances and home systems are protected and covered. Especially if you plan on updating to new appliances, make sure you plan ahead in case repairs or replacements are needed down the road.
Large appliances like washers and dryers have great sustainable options on the market to choose from. Look for energy-efficient models that require less to operate. Also, make note that larger washers and dryers likely require more energy and water. This is another reminder that bigger isn’t always better, especially if a standard or compact size will work for you.
Dishwashers are another opportunity to reduce water waste. If you have an older dishwasher, it likely uses more water than needed per cycle. Current dishwashers on the market use up to five times less water than older models. Check out the available eco-friendly dishwasher options, some using less than two gallons of water per cycle.
Keep in mind that replacing appliances does not mean the old ones need to be thrown away. Reduce waste by donating or selling your old appliances to others in need. This is a great way to continue the product's life span and keep it out of landfills.
Building, renovating, and updating your home gives you a great opportunity to focus on a greener future. With the tips above, you can live in your dream home while also reducing your carbon footprint.