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5 Tips for Green Home Remodeling

December 14, 2008 · Print This Article

The easiest ways to turn an existing house into an eco-friendly green house are to increase energy efficiency and to use green materials when you remodel. Here are some ideas to think about while you’re in the planning stages.

First, replace your old appliances with Energy Star appliances. These are specifically manufactured to save energy and lower your utility bills. Your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave, and washer and dryer are all available in energy-efficient models. While some models may cost a little more up front, the yearly savings over the life of your new appliance can be well worth it.

Second, replace your old 30 or 40 gallon hot water heater with tankless hot water heaters. These are small water heaters mounted on the wall where you actually use the hot water. They heat the water as you need it, like an electric kettle, instead of keeping 30 or 40 gallons on simmer for 24 hours a day. These devices have been widely and successfully used in Europe for more than 40 years, but they are just now arriving to the United States.

Third, replace your counter tops, shelving, interior doors and wood laminate flooring with low VOC materials. This means that the new materials do not off gas toxic chemicals into the air that can irritate sensitive eyes and lungs. Your indoor air quality and your health will both be improved.

Fourth, landscape with local native plants that will grow with natural rainwater. Consider extending the native plants into you entire yard, and eliminating high-maintenance sod and lawns. This may seem drastic at first, but more and more people will be choosing this option as the cost of watering your lawn goes higher. Some neighborhoods in drought prone regions already enforce water restrictions. By choosing to xeriscape, which means using natural, native low-water plants, you won’t have to worry about watering your lawn.

Fifth, replace your flooring with natural, renewable materials like bamboo and cork. Not only are these materials trendy and attractive, you won’t be contributing to the clear-cutting of old growth forests. Instead of synthetic wall to wall carpeting that is not biodegradable, use natural fibers like sisal, jute or hemp for area rugs.

These are just a few ideas for using energy efficient and eco-friendly products in your home remodeling projects. The good news is that more and more consumers are requesting green building materials, so they’re now readily available at most local hardware stores. If not, it’s always easy to find these types of products online.


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