Renovation and refurbishing are costly endeavours. Giving up your home or specific parts of it for weeks, just to upgrade to better conditions seems like the biggest inconvenience. Add to that, the cost of dealing with the workmanship, contractors, and permits and you’ve got yourself a major pain in the neck.
The bleakness of the situation may sometimes make you feel like environmental damage is the least of your priorities. I don’t blame you for feeling this way, but perhaps its best reconsider this approach and see what you can do to save everyone’s home whilst remaking your own.
Source Eco Friendly yet Economical Materials
When it comes to construction materials, there is a myriad of options to choose from. To encourage sustainability, opting for recycled materials or materials with low emissions is a great way to narrow down your options and save the planet.
For example, recycled glass is a great alternative to your standard glass panes and can be fitted into single and double glazed, with somewhat similar price points but lesser emissions.
Additionally, you can build with engineered wood instead of naturally sourced wood. The difference? Natural forest wood uses trees from the untouched forest reserves, and this is not ideal for global warming. On the other hand, engineered wood comes from plantations that are replanted to ensure the wood is essentially renewable. Also, you can get better structural performance from engineered wood as it is manufactured to precise strength specifications.
Try looking for paint options that have low volatile organic compounds (VOC) that can evaporate at room temperature, eg formaldehyde. VOC’s are terrible, in that they can build up in a house over time and cause organ damage and cancer. Also, VOC’s can combine with nitrous oxides (NOX) in the air to create ozone, which is extremely harmful and can cause lung damage. VOC’s can be found in paint, and flooring as well.
Flooring can be eco-friendly too. Natural fibre carpets and linoleum come from renewable sources. Cork is great too as you can harvest it without irreparably damaging the trees. The safest choices are hardwood and bamboo. These can be grown on plantations without causing too much harm.
For more rigid flooring there is always hewn stone and ceramic tile instead of acrylic and resin tiles. Just remember that all flooring types use industrial adhesives. These are pumped full of nasty chemicals and you need to air out your house as soon as you’re done with the installation.
Energy Efficiency is Key
Consuming massive amounts of electricity is putting a strain on the planet. So investing in energy-saving tactics can help you save precious dollars while helping the environment.
The elephant in the room is usually insulation. Depending on the type of climate you build your home in, insulation or the lack thereof can impact livable room temperature and affect how hard you can push your HVAC systems during your climates more extreme temperatures. Always opt for loose-filled cellulose fibre insulation, which basically recycled paper.
A death trap for insulation is leakage. The biggest culprits are often heating and cooling ducts in your home. Have an HVAC specialist tune your AC and heating to optimum levels and ensure all ducts are properly sealed. Furthermore, it’s very important to ensure doors and windows are adequately sealed to reduce drafts between rooms. Adding insulated glass for sliding doors and bay windows is also very important. The more you can limit heat transfer, the easier it is to heat or cool your home.
Don’t overlook energy-efficient appliances either. Investing in energy-efficient appliances from the outset makes it easier to reduce energy consumption in the long run. Look for Energy Guide labels on products as they don’t just tell you how much energy an appliance consumed but also how best it performs against other similar models. There are many national databases that catalogue energy ratings for many appliances that can be used for further research.
Let’s not forget lighting. Having a clear electrical plan about lighting and outlets can save you a ton in wiring SNAFU’s later. And you can maximize this by opting for energy-efficient bulbs. These bulbs come in all shapes, sizes and warmth levels. They’re best used with step down transformers that reduce overall voltage.
The more radical energy-saving method is to wean your reliance on the fossil fuel-powered energy grid and use solar energy. This may seem like a massive investment, but it truly does pay off. Consult your local solar energy authorities who will be happy to help you figure out a feasible installation that works for your home.
Save Water, Save Lives
Reducing water consumptions is a high priority for eco-conscious people. That has lead to some ingenious innovations like reusing greywater for things like watering the garden and even black water systems. Other methods aren’t too radical, like instaling flow restrictors on showerheads so taking unreasonably long showers can be a thing of the past. The more deluxe option is installing a rainwater catchment system that feeds into your internal home plumbing system. This will drastically reduce your water bill and make use of a potentially free water source.
Water potability is also a major concern. To remove pollutants and ensure your family is not exposed to potentially harmful toxins, install a house-wide water filtration system. If you have a restrictive budget, try point of use filters, that you can install at your faucet.
Reclamation and Rejuvenation
The pinnacle of eco-friendly home renovation is using reclaimed building materials and fixtures. In fact, its en vogue to use the larger wood beams reclaimed from older houses and incorporating them into the interior design. Architects love it, as it adds character to your home.
In conclusion, there are many routes to takes when contemplating eco-friendly renovations. More often than not, the limiting factor is usually your budget. Sometimes, you don’t need all the bells and whistles. Find the best fit option for you. Helping the planet doesn’t have to be at the expense of your peace of mind.