How to Prioritize Sustainability in Your Home Renovation
Renovations can transform your home. They can increase the functionality and aesthetic appeal of the room. During the renovation, it is the perfect time to consider how you’re impacting the environment. Using eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient appliances can decrease your carbon footprint. Here are some other ways to prioritize sustainability in your home renovation projects.
1. Increase Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
The first step before renovating is to figure out where you lose the most energy. A home energy audit is an excellent place to start. It’s an assessment of your home’s current energy consumption.
During the inspection, the auditor will examine exterior components like your windows and walls. They may also check out your furnace and water heater. These audits can take between 30 minutes and four hours. Afterward, the auditor will give you a list of solutions and actionable steps to take. Consider these when making your home upgrades.
Also, add insulation, seal windows and doors, and buy energy-efficient appliances. You also want to upgrade your casements. Using double-glazed windows offers better energy efficiency and protection. These changes can make your home more comfortable and lower your energy bills.
2. Enhance the Quality of Your Indoor Air
Poor indoor air quality can lead to respiratory issues. Some air pollutants can come from flooring and paints. Carpets can trap these pollutants, like dust and mold spores. The chemicals used in rugs can have volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can cause eye irritation and difficulty breathing.
So, consider using hard floor surfaces for most of your rooms, such as hardwood or ceramic tile. If you want to use carpets in the bedroom, look for ones with natural fibers. In addition, when painting, look for brands that have zero VOCs.
3. Install Water-Conserving Fixtures
You use about 80-100 gallons of water per day. Most of this comes from flushing toilets and taking showers. To help conserve water, install low-flow plumbing fixtures. You could end up saving about 2,900 gallons of water every year by adding a low-flow showerhead. Also, upgrade to a tankless water heater and high-efficiency toilets and dishwashers.
In addition to your fixtures, you can conserve water in your landscaping. Place a drip irrigation system to water your garden. If you like to entertain, make some improvements to your outdoor space. Consider adding some lights, a hammock, or a firepit.
4. Use Eco-Friendly Materials
One easy way to include sustainability in your home renovation is through material choices. Before the renovation, consider how you can use more natural materials. Your flooring is one place you can incorporate environmentally friendly options. Cork or bamboo are both excellent flooring choices that provide your home with a unique style. Cork is also fire-retardant and easy to maintain.
Here are some more eco-friendly flooring options:
- Glass tile
- Wool carpet
Also, look for more sustainable roofing materials, such as metal or wooden shingles. Metal awnings are also durable and protect against heavy rain and wind. While updating your roof, consider adding solar panels to reduce your energy consumption.
5. Buy Supplies and Decor Locally
Internationally sourced materials, like Italian marble, may sound fancy but can impact the environment. Sourcing these materials relies on transportation resources like cars and ships. The vehicles used to carry over products emit large amounts of greenhouse gases. In fact, 70% of a plane’s exhaust is from carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide pollutes the air and increases the rate of global warming. You also help to give back to the economy when you buy locally.
6. Reuse Items
Many construction materials end up sitting in landfills. They can take time to decompose, releasing methane and increasing climate change. Before the demolition process, plan out some items you can save. For example, you can keep your old kitchen cabinets. A fresh coat of paint and some new hardware can make them feel brand new.
You can also save a vanity that’s in good condition. You can then update the faucet to stainless steel and add a low-flow fixture. In addition, you can save lighting and use it as decoration in a different space. Keep in mind renovations can be costly, so you want to cut expenses where you can.
Suppose you still have unwanted materials? Consider selling them online or donating them to an architectural salvage store. Also, recycle supplies whenever possible.
7. Add Smart Devices
Smart homes are becoming increasingly popular. Advancement in technology allows devices to be more efficient. For example, a smart thermostat can adjust to your ideal temperature. They also will turn off when you leave and kick back on when you return home. These electronics help to conserve energy and lower your heating and cooling bills. The best part is that you can control them right from your phone.
Here are some more intelligent devices to add to your home:
- Smart lights
- Smart plug
- Smart refrigerator
- Smart air conditioners
8. Downsize Your Space
Many people create additions during renovations. However, adding extra space can increase your electricity and water usage. While living in a smaller area can be an adjustment, it is more eco-friendly.
Plus, then you have fewer rooms in the house to clean. In addition, downsizing can help you get rid of unnecessary clutter. With less stuff, you may even feel happier. In fact, tiny homes are a trend for those looking to live more sustainably. In 2017, sales for tiny houses increased by 67%.
9. Pick Out Environmentally Friendly Furniture
Along with your building materials, you can buy eco-friendly furnishing. The first step is doing your research. Look for trusted labels, such as Greenguard. Also, consider the type of material being used. Reclaimed wood is a sustainable product that works well for tables and chairs. Other recycled or reclaimed materials, like glass or iron, can make beautiful eco-friendly furniture.
Along with the material, pay attention to the chemicals used. Many newer items use an unnatural substance, like solvent-based lacquers, to finish a product. These can release VOCs into the air. Instead, look for furnishings with water-based lacquers.
10. Find the Right Contractors
You want to work with professionals who share your goals. To find green contractors, search for ones who have built a Passive House certified home. Be sure to check their credentials and past projects before hiring them. Ask if they have built a green property before.
Also, you can use referrals from your friends and family. You can even try to contact your local green building organization. These contractors can provide relevant eco-friendly suggestions. You can also look into online magazines, such as Green Home Builder Magazine if you need more tips.
Tips for an Eco-friendly Renovation
Helping the planet may not be the first thing you think about during the remodeling process. However, it’s essential to preserve resources for the next generation. And there are simple ways to do it, such as using eco-friendly materials. So, keep these tips in mind during thinking about sustainability in your home renovation project.
In case you have architectural, structural, and MEP design requirements, or need sustainability in your home renovation project, feel free to contact us. We provide you with the full permit set design + T24.
Rose Morrison is a freelance writer who covers construction, home improvement, and contracting topics. She is also the managing editor of Renovated.com, a site dedicated to the latest trends in the home industry. She has a passion for innovative technologies that are making the home industry sustainable and efficient. Check out Renovated.com to see more of her work.