Whether you consider yourself a strict environmentalist or someone who simply loves the old-meets-new style of today, an earth-friendly design may suit your needs. And, what better time to consider sustainable products than during your home renovation?
From reclaimed wood and cabinetry to water-saving shower heads and energy-efficient appliances, here are a few things you should consider during your remodel:
Let energy efficient items guide your purchases.
Sustainable design starts with your home’s energy efficiency. Some argue that reusing old appliance by purchasing second-hand is the best way to go, but older appliance can be energy hogs. Look for new, ENERGY STAR™-rated appliances that will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but also lower your electricity bills. The same goes for toilets and shower faucets: look for low flow options to save water both for the planet and your pocketbook.
Another way to reduce your carbon footprint and save on your monthly bills is to use daylight and fresh air to light and cool your home. Skylights are a great way to reduce your dependence on air conditioning by drawing cool, fresh air inside. When opened in conjunction with vertical windows, skylights create the chimney effect where cool, fresh air enters through vertical windows, and hot, stale air escapes from the skylights, cooling your home without using electricity. Plus, some models like the VELUX No Leak Solar Powered “Fresh Air” skylights are powered by solar energy, making them even more efficient. Ventilating skylights even help rid your home of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
And with skylights, you don’t need to turn on electric lights during the day. What a bright idea!
Gently used items breathe new life into a space.
How can you carve out money in your budget to buy new appliances? Consider using reclaimed or recycled items elsewhere in your renovation.
Do you love the farmhouse look of a rustic, cladded wood wall? You can easily transform an ordinary wall into an accent wall using reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood will help you achieve the look you desire at a much lower cost and reduce carbon footprint by giving a second life to materials. The same can be said of old furniture or flea market finds: give them a facelift with a bit of sanding and painting. In the kitchen, cabinets can be rehabbed to look new again.
Let there be light.
If your renovation includes plans for a bonus room, consult your architect about the best location for windows and skylights. He/she will be able to tell you which parts of the house will receive the best natural light throughout the day, ultimately decreasing your need for electricity.
Use skylights to provide balanced natural light throughout the day, especially for north facing rooms. Depending on the climate where you live, skylights can significantly boost energy saving. For homes in warmer climates, north facing skylights help reduce dependence on electrical lighting provide natural light and save money during warmer months. For homes in cooler climates, south facing skylights help homeowners save on lighting costs and heating bills during winter months.
In the evening, when natural light sources are unavailable, you will need to rely on electric light sources. Select energy efficient models such as compact fluorescent bulbs that are designed to last longer.
As you are planning for your home renovation, be sure to keep energy efficient, sustainable products in mind, and you might find yourself soaking up natural light and reaping the benefits of a lower utility bill.