8 Eco-Friendly Home Upgrades to Make This Year
Green is in! Environmentally conscious buildings reduce their carbon footprint and lower the greenhouse gas emissions that have been tied to global warming. Not only that, but these homes also result in reduced energy use, which lowers your energy costs. Green building is also very popular — especially with millennials — and that demand can potentially raise the resale value of your house when the time comes to sell it.
If you aren’t currently in a green home, you can still make your home as green as possible. Most homeowners upgrade every now and then. Just make a plan so your annual upgrades are eco-friendly. Here are eight ideas.
1. Use Reclaimed Wood for Remodeling and New Building
Re-purposing is one of the key tenets of eco-friendly building. Cutting down additional forests contributes to global warming. Trees do a great deal to recycle air and reduce pollution, as well. Not only that but tear-downs and remodeled homes often have reclaimed wood available.
So, if you’re planning a new addition, or remodeling your kitchen countertops, consider doing it with reclaimed wood. It’s a great design choice, too!
2. Consider Pre-Owned Items
On the reclamation and re-purposing front, purchasing pre-owned, rather than new home additions, is another great way to do that. While we often think of “eco-friendly” as being energy-related, it also concerns holding off on ordering brand-new, virgin materials unless absolutely necessary.
Thinking of new kitchen furniture or a new sofa? Check out local thrift shops or Habitat for Humanity stores. They often have gently used merchandise that looks good and wears well.
3. Buy an Energy-Efficient Garage Door
Garage doors often get left out of the eco-friendly discussion. They shouldn’t! Garage doors need to be replaced every 15 to 20 years, on average. They’re the largest moving part in most homes. Their ability to create energy efficiency that leaves heat in and cold out is therefore very significant in regulating the temperature inside your home and reducing your energy expenditure.
Many doors also use re-purposed natural resources. Recycled steel is often used, for example, which reduces the amount of material that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
4. Install Larger, More Energy-Efficient Windows
Eco-friendly homes heat as much as possible with the sun. The more sunshine you have streaming into your house, the less you’ll need to burn fossil fuels for energy. One great method for getting sun in your house is larger windows. South-facing exposure is best, but larger windows on all sides will contribute to using a natural source for heat and light.
Then, when you purchase the windows, make sure they have the most energy-efficient sealing and insulation possible.
5. Maximize Your Air Flow
Air flow causes at least 20 percent of your home’s heating and cooling energy to escape. If it’s cold outside, heat can escape through doors, basement walls, and windows. And if it’s hot outside, cool air can dissipate through attics, doors, and windows. Energy can also leave through ducts or around electrical switches.
Make a thorough inspection of possible air flow leaks. Fixing some may require caulking or other materials to impede the drafts under doors or weather seals.
6. Make Your Yard Eco-Friendly
The maintenance of lawns and gardens is not necessarily environmentally friendly. If you live in a hot climate and have a rose garden and a vibrant green lawn, for example, you may be overusing water. Water is a precious natural resource in short supply in many areas of the country. Lawns and gardens also use pesticides, which use chemicals that can be toxic to some plants and wildlife, like squirrels and deer, plus garden pollinators like birds and bees.
Consider planting your yard with wildflowers native to your area. They require a minimal amount of water and upkeep and are beautiful and vibrant.
7. Catch Rainwater for Your Lawn and Garden
Although you should strive to make your lawn and garden use as little water as possible, most yards need at least some. Catching rainwater is a perfectly eco-friendly method to obtain what you need.
You can purchase a rainwater barrel at most home and garden stores, or simply use an existing barrel. Harvesting water is simple: You leave the barrel out when rain is forecast. Then, you use it to water your garden and lawn. One word of caution: Standing water can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can be a health hazard. Use it up as quickly as possible, and keep it covered when you can.
8. Install a Solar Hot Water Heater
Like garage doors, hot water heaters need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. If this year is a replacement year, consider a solar hot water heater. They save on energy and add considerably to the resale value of your home. They’re easier to install than other eco-friendly moves, such as solar roof panels, because they simply pump solar-heated water.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a solar hot water heater will save 50 to 80 percent of the cost to heat your water.
Eco-friendly upgrades like these eight will lower your carbon footprint and your bills, and increase the eventual resale value of your home. Best of all, they are incremental projects and not major renovations. You can continue to enjoy your home while it becomes better and better for the environment.
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