Making your home more sustainable has many benefits. Some eco home improvement ideas focus on reducing dangerous carbon emissions and other environmental damage, while others promote renewable energy options.
Before starting a new renovation project, look for materials that can be salvaged or repurposed. Reusing things like light fixtures, flooring, bricks, cabinets and sinks is an easy way to create a more sustainable home.
1. Install Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors
Upgrading to energy efficient windows reduces home energy use, lowering electricity and gas bills. It also lowers an individual’s carbon footprint by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Green renovations like this can be expensive, but the initial investment is often covered by savings in a few years. Plus, they make your home more eco friendly and attractive to future buyers if you plan to sell it.
For an extra sustainability boost, use reclaimed materials when you renovate. They add character and value to your home, while saving valuable items from a landfill.
2. Install Energy-Efficient Appliances
Air pollution and greenhouse gases are harmful to the environment, so it’s important to use energy-efficient appliances. Home appliances can account for a large percentage of the average home’s electricity bill, so it’s worth investing in ENERGY STAR certified appliances and installing a programmable thermostat to help reduce your carbon footprint and save on energy costs.
During your eco renovation, be sure to reuse materials instead of throwing them away. Check with local reuse stores for items like bricks, wood and metal that have a secondary use instead of sending them to landfills.
3. Install Energy-Efficient Lighting
While sustainable home renovations may take a bit more effort and money than traditional projects, they can make a big difference when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and energy usage. And, by using eco-friendly building materials and smart design practices, sustainable homes are more cost-effective than traditional homes over time.
One of the easiest ways to reduce energy use is by installing ENERGY STAR approved LED lights. These bulbs emit less heat and last longer than regular bulbs, cutting energy usage by up to 90%. Other easy upgrades include occupancy-sensing light switches and a tankless water heater that only heats water when it’s needed, avoiding waste.
4. Install Energy-Efficient Plumbing
Sustainable homes are environmentally friendly, cost less to run and can attract future buyers. While green renovations require an initial investment, they will pay off in the long run by saving energy and water costs.
Installing eco-friendly plumbing is a simple, yet effective way to make your home more sustainable. For example, a drip irrigation system is an alternative to water pumps that save electricity and minimizes the amount of water lost through evaporation.
Consider using reclaimed materials when possible. This includes flooring, doors, cabinets and even light fixtures. Also, ask family and friends to see if they have any items they want to get rid of.
5. Install Energy-Efficient Flooring
The benefits of building or renovating a sustainable house include energy efficiency, reduced environmental impact and possibly even higher resale value. Many eco-friendly home improvements are very affordable, and some can be completed in just a few minutes–like switching out light bulbs.
Other green home improvement options that require a bit more skill and upfront investment include installing uPVC windows, replacing old-style light bulbs with LEDs, fitting thermally lined curtains, adding a rainwater harvesting system or using renewable energy sources like solar panels.
Decorating also offers an opportunity to be environmentally-conscious, using reclaimed materials, non-toxic paint and wallpapers and incorporating ventilation systems that improve indoor air quality.
6. Install Energy-Efficient Insulation
Home renovations create a lot of waste, but you can reduce the amount of materials that get dumped by using recycled or repurposed options. From batting-style insulation made from recycled denim to blow-in insulation made with cellulose, reclaimed materials can help save you money and keep your eco-friendly home running smoothly.
Uninsulated homes account for the biggest energy inefficiency, and adding some will significantly lower your monthly bills. You can also make your home greener by choosing renewable energy solutions like solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system.
7. Install Energy-Efficient Appliances
Using appliances that use less energy means fewer harmful emissions of greenhouse gases and less waste. In addition, switching to non-toxic paints and glues that contain fewer Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) can improve indoor air quality.
Orienting a new house to take advantage of the sun and minimizing drafts reduces heating and cooling costs, which also helps make a home more sustainable. Other ways to increase sustainability include using solar power, incorporating passive heating and cooling, and using recycled materials in building construction.
Smaller homes are more efficient and require fewer resources to build, operate and maintain. Some types of sustainable homes include tiny houses, shipping container houses, and eco-friendly homes that are built on-site.