With all the environmentally conscious options being made available in today’s society, one of the latest favorites includes “green” renovations. A “green” renovation includes using healthy, environmentally supportive materials and products instead of the regular versions. Turning your home into a nature-friendly domain is still fairly new, and as a consequence, can cost more than conventional renovations. Still, starting small is an affordable option, can help you save money, increase the value your home and benefit your own personal health! Here are some ways you can start:
Get energy efficient appliances. Look for the Energy Star logo on various appliances which is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. These products are designed to cut back on energy usage in conjunction with being highly efficient. They range from refrigerators to washer/dryers, heating/cooling systems to coffee makers.
Lighten things up. Simply changing the light bulbs in your home makes a huge impact on both energy costs and greenhouse emissions. Compact fluorescent bulbs are available in many standard grocery stores, use up to 4 times less energy and last up to 10 times longer than regular bulbs. Light dimmers help bulbs last longer and also cut down on electricity usage. Even better, take advantage of daylight with larger, energy efficient windows or consider Solatubes, an innovative product more effective than a skylight.
Recycle and reclaim materials. Why not jazz up a used door instead of buying a new one? Include “gently used” materials such as salvaged wood and supplies from demolitions in your renovations. There are also many products available made of recycled glass that make for attractive additions to your kitchen and bathroom, such as tiles. Recycled glass and concrete becomes a stunning kitchen countertop from IceStone or Coverings Etc. Attractive alkemi countertops use a minimum of 60% of post-industrial aluminum scrap. There are even recycled paper options to consider!
Explore unique flooring alternatives. Bamboo, an “earth friendly” product, is quick to grow and harvest without pesticides, has a beautiful texture, and is a popular choice to use instead of hardwood for flooring. Cork is an available flooring choice for kitchens. As well, marmoleum flooring (a reinvention of linoleum) which is a combination of limestone, cork, linseed oil and other natural resins, comes in a variety of colors and designs. Palmwood, kirei board and teak are also options. Finally, forget toxic carpeting in your home and consider a “green” carpet made from organic cotton, sea grass or wool created with natural bonding elements.
Be wise with water. Look for low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucets which maintain a strong water pressure, or add aerators which attach to your fixtures to reduce water flow. Cisterns or rain barrels are popular ways to store rainwater, but be cautious of stagnancy. Consider a tankless hot water heater which provides instant hot water and uses less energy. Cut down on outdoor water usage by choosing drought-friendly plants over water-hungry grass.
Keep warm. Alcohol burning fireplaces create heat without using wood. Properly sealing cracks and holes in your home is crucial to becoming more energy efficient. Double glazed or low-emissivity windows keep things nice and toasty in the winter without raising the heat, especially if they’re located on the south side of your house. Natural cotton insulation in your home is a safe and effective alternative to regular insulation.
Avoid chemicals. Many items in our home emit dangerous gasses from plastic bags to furniture, wallpaper and painted walls, and these can lead to respiratory irritation, headaches as well as being environmentally unsound. Use enviro-friendly cleaners and low volatile organic compound paints, wallpapers, stains and glues. Companies like Benjamin Moore offer low to no-VOC products, or consider exploring natural Yolo Paints. Choose PVC-free wallpaper and low VOC glues and stains.
From choosing certified lumber by the Forest Stewardship Council to considering recycled polyester upholstery, there are so many ways you can add a little “green” to your renovations. Before splashing out major money, however, consider doing an energy audit to your home to determine the most cost-effective way to renovate. Call Green Communities Canada (1-888-661-0000) or visit their web site (www.egh.gca.ca) to get started creating your new planet-friendly living space.
A few sites relevant to above:
Coverings Etc.: www.coveringsetc.com
Nature’s Carpet: www.naturescarpet.com
In Flame (Alcohol burning fireplaces): www.inflame.ca
Benjamin Moore: www.benjaminmoore.com
Yolo Paints: www.yolocolorhouse.com