These days, homeowners have more than just curb appeal and utility to think about when making their home renovations, and many Americans are choosing to make sustainable renovations to their homes. This could mean making renovations that conserve water, energy and resources in the house or this could mean making eco-friendly decisions about the renovation process itself. If you are considering renovating your home, sustainable renovations are the way to go. Not only are they better for the environment, but they can also save you a ton of cash on things like your water, electric or heating bill. Since sustainable renovations are a relatively new thing, though, you might be a little confused about all of the new technologies and methods available to you. There are a few small renovations you can do yourself that will make your home more eco-friendly!
Maybe you dream of one day living in a completely green home, one that has a minimal impact on your local environment and was built entirely with renewable resources. But for right now, you have an old, fixer-upper starter home and no disposable income. You can start greening your home with baby steps by making small sustainable renovations. For example, when you need to repaint your home, choose non-volatile organic compound paint. Instead of putting in new wall to wall carpeting, put in recycled wood planks or cork flooring. You could even replace all of your plumbing fixtures with low flow fixtures and a composting toilet. All of these projects can be completed one room at a time, and you don't even need to stay in a hotel or with friends while you are in the middle of them.
If you have some time and money to invest into your home, there are a few sustainable projects you can undertake that will drastically improve your house's carbon footprint yet not require you to find alternative lodging while they are underway. If your family is growing and you are starting to feel a bit cramped, build a sustainable addition onto your house. You can use all green and sustainable building materials such as engineered wood or recycled bricks. One of the most important ways you can make your home green is by upgrading the insulation. Install new, high efficiency, low-e replacement windows and replace the insulation in your attic and basement. This will drastically reduce the energy and gas you waste heating and air conditioning your home.
If you plan to do a total green renovation of your home, you are probably going to have to find another place to live while your house undergoes its transformation. A complete renovation can be comparable to building a house from the ground up when it comes to time and money you are going to have to invest, and in some cases it could cost you even more of each. Before you start your total renovation, make sure that your new, green materials aren't actually taking more energy to produce than your old home was consuming.
All materials used in the renovation of your home should fulfill certain criteria to the largest extent possible in order to be healthy for both yourself and the environment. They should be lead free and low or non-toxic. They should have low to no off gassing of volatile organic compounds. They should be resistant to moisture so that they can inhibit the formation of molds and mildews. You should be able to clean the materials in your sustainable home with healthy, environmentally friendly, non-toxic cleaners. Try to find materials made with recycled materials, or at least made of recycled materials. You also need to be conscientious about the energy required for the production of your household materials. Use materials that require a minimal amount of water in their production. Try to find materials and supplies that are made locally. Take this step even further and try to find materials made of organically grown and sustainably harvested woods and plants. If you are very creative, use salvaged materials such as bricks that came from another house that was torn down. Look for materials that are durable and will not need frequent replacement or maintenance. These materials should also be affordable to you; you are still going to need to sustain your family and yourself after your sustainable renovations are complete.
These days, due to the increasing popularity of eco-friendly home renovation and building, there are all sorts of contractors and firms that work exclusively with sustainable materials and practices. If you are hiring someone to do your renovations, you should definitely get quotes from these businesses that are doing their part to save the Earth. You don't necessarily have to work exclusively with businesses that advertise themselves as sustainable, however. Most general contractors are hardly intent about destroying the Earth. Interview several contractors and discuss your concerns and desires in detail. You will probably find that most builders are happy to work with you to achieve your dreams of a green home.