Going Green in Home Improvements

 

Going green when it comes to home improvements and remodeling is now being discussed on a greater level than ever before. More people are becoming conscious of the fact that the planet needs to be protected in order to be saved, and if everyone plays a part, great strides can be made in preserving the earth and its resources. As noted on MSNBC’s website, many contractors and homeowners alike are still not certain just what constitutes going green. But there are improvements that can be done to an existing home or building techniques that can be used when working on a new home to help the environment and drastically cut down on pollution and the misuse of the planet’s natural resources.

For an existing home, one of the main features that can be changed to help conserve power is the use of solar panels. They can come in the form of panels on the roof, walls or trellises. This type of system is being more widely used, and it is not unusual to see new homes going up with solar panels being used somewhere in the construction. Solar power can also be very useful for outdoor lighting. Solar lights for the outside of a property are charged by the sun’s rays during the daylight hours and automatically turn on at night without the use of electricity. The sun is the source of power for solar lights to do their job. Solar lights are available in a wide variety of styles and are a resourceful way of illuminating the exterior of a home.

There are a number of things that can be done in the interior of the house to help the planet as well. Energy-efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, are a good way to conserve on electricity and water. Many appliances are now available with some type of energy-saving capability. Even toilets are now manufactured that cut down on the amount of water that is used. The new models of central air conditioning units are more energy-efficient as well. In fact, when looking for a new appliance for the home, it is hard to find one that does not have energy-saving ability built in. Manufacturers of large and smaller appliances are becoming more aware of conserving energy and passing that awareness on to the consumer. The Energy Star rating for energy-efficient appliances can be found on many products, with the number of products containing this rating increasing all the time.

Lighting the interior of the home with Energy Star light bulbs is another good way to conserve energy and cut down on electric bills. These bulbs last much longer than traditional bulbs and can be used in ceiling lights, table lamps, floor lamps, and other lighting fixtures throughout the house. At Energy Star, there is helpful information concerning Energy Star products that are available. This website also has advice for consumers regarding ways to make their homes more green and healthy for family members and the environment.

Another energy saver is to put lights on a timer when away from home. There is no need to have lights blazing needlessly, and when lights go on and off at a certain time, it will give the appearance of someone being home even when the house is empty. This is a deterrent to any thief who might be keeping a watch on the residence.

Yet another way to go green is to use natural cleaning products in the home. These products are safe for the planet as they are not composed of harmful fumes and chemicals. They can do a very good job of cleaning but are more gentle for individuals to use in the close confines of a house.

It is surprising how much cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter can be lost from a home’s interior through cracks around windows and doors. A home improvement that can cut down on lost air conditioning and heating is to fill in these openings, no matter how tiny, and make the home more energy-efficient. The air inside the house will stay inside the house, and air from outside will not come in unless it is meant to through an open window.

And windows bring up another home improvement topic. Old windows can be an eyesore. Properly fitting windows are not only an attractive addition to the home, but will also help to save on energy bills. And the new types of windows available now are more easy to clean, giving the homeowner more time to devote to other pursuits.

One of those other pursuits can be tending a vegetable garden, which will put the backyard to good use and supply healthy, home-grown vegetables for eating. This is a home improvement measure that can greatly benefit all family members by providing the type of food that will benefit the body and promote good health. Plus, home-grown vegetables are not subjected to pesticides that can be very harmful.

A home plagued with dry air can benefit from a humidifier, energy-efficient, of course. It will put much needed moisture back into the air and help to keep furniture from drying out. It will also make the air within the home more breathable and comfortable for the occupants. And if too much moisture and humidity in the air is a problem, an energy-saving dehumidifier will remove that extra moisture and keep harmful molds and mildew from building up within the walls of the home. This small appliance, either humidifier or dehumidifier, can do much to make the home more comfortable for all family members.

Going green is a welcome method to improve homes and the planet as well. Recycling is an important step, but there is growing awareness of the need to conserve the earth’s natural resources. People are searching for additional ways to improve the home that will benefit both the planet and its inhabitants. If everyone does their part, planet earth will prosper as a result.

 

10 Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Ideas

Today, it’s more important than ever to consider eco-friendly or “green” products and materials when you improve your home. This is of course because we want to do our part to keep the environment healthy, but it’s also because most of us can’t afford to waste money on inefficient homes. Many products and materials that are eco-friendly can also help your pocket book–think inexpensive heating and cooling bills, low water bills, and affordable gas or electricity bills.

Fortunately, there are many options today for those who want to make eco-friendly home improvements. Here are 10 ideas to get you started:

1. Tons of water is wasted each year in the bathrooms of homeowners, so take a look in there when you’re doing your green remodeling. For the toilet consider a dual flush model. These are designs that use two different flush settings depending upon what you need (usually a powerful mode that offers 1.6 gallons and then a nice and gentle .8-gallon flush as well). This can greatly help reduce water consumption in the home over the course of a single year.

2. Paint goes a long ways in adding curb appeal to the outside of a house or cheering up drab spaces inside. It’s also an easy and relatively inexpensive home improvement that will make a huge difference. When you are selecting paint, stick to only brands that use non-VOC or non-volatile organic chemicals. Typical paint has high levels of VOCs, which is neither eco-friendly nor particularly healthy. You may need to search for brands and special lines that offer low and reduced VOC levels, but they are becoming more readily available. Just ask at the paint department of the home improvement store, and someone should be educated enough to help you find an eco-friendly paint that will suit your needs.

3. Flooring is one of the first things people think of when they remodel, and there are lots of ways to get what you want and still be eco-friendly. For those who are looking for a natural type of material then cork flooring is a great option to explore. It is durable, comfortable to walk on, and also boasts the use of no toxic adhesives that can harm the environment. There are a wide range of colors and designs for cork floor tiles, showing that the material is not meant just for walls and bulletin boards anymore.

4. Your floors may not really need to be replaced at all. Reusing and refinishing already existing materials is a hallmark of the green movement, so another viable home improvement option that you can look into is refinishing the floors that you currently have. This is especially plausible if you have wood floors underneath any other type of floor in your home. While it may take some work to make them shine again, it is worth the effort.

5. Carpets can be eco-friendly too. Sometimes it’s hard to beat the warmth and softness of carpets, but if you want to be green and healthy (carpeting is well known for harboring dust mites, pet dander, and mildew, all of which are hard to get out even with steam cleaning), consider carpet tiles. These are typically created from recyclable materials and are very easy to install as well as clean. This makes them a beautiful choice as well as a simple option for carpet across an entire room. You can even get outdoor carpet tiles to spruce up balconies or rooftop decks.

6. If you’re going with carpets, know that carpet padding isn’t always necessary. Skip the carpet padding if possible. This is usually additional material that is used when using traditional carpet and involves additional labor, materials, and chemicals and also makes it much harder to keep the carpet clean without the use of harsh chemicals.

7. In the bedroom look for organic bedding. Many off-the-shelf bedding products are treated with a chemical called formaldehyde, which is intended to make them soft, but this is a huge toxic chemical and very hazardous to the environment as well as your own personal health. Look for organic bedding to avoid the dangers to your health.

8. As for the bed itself, consider eco-friendly mattresses. There are several companies that have them available; most are typically made from a material called natural latex rubber, which is friendly to the environment. Also these mattresses pose fewer problems when it’s time to replace them.

9. Think solar power whenever possible. This can save you a lot of money in the long run. For example, if you are replacing your water heater, consider a solar powered model. This will reduce energy usage, lower your power bill, and ensure that you always have plenty of hot water on hand, even if the power is out in the rest of the house.

10. If you’re not ready to take the big remodeling step, you can make green choices just in your home furnishings. One of the best things you can do is purchase used furniture. This helps to keep old furniture out of the landfills, and it reduces the demand on forests and materials to build new pieces from scratch. Also, older pieces tend to be higher quality than what’s put out today (i.e. solid hardwood instead of particleboard), so you may actually get a better piece of furniture just by sanding and staining an old coffee table or perhaps reupholstering old chairs and sofas. Getting used furniture is a great way to save some money and be eco friendly all at the same time.

There are far more home improvements to save money and create an eco-friendly home than listed here, but these should get you started. As you go down the remodeling road, you’ll find plenty of other ways you can create a home that is healthy to live in and is friendly to the environment.

Specialty Home Improvement Remodeling Projects

The purpose of a home improvement remodeling project is to make your home more attractive and functional. Some of the usual improvements involve redoing floor and wall coverings, adding cabinetry, and improving the lighting. Other choices are installing new fixtures, knocking out or building new walls, and even something as simple as painting. Yet, some of the most exciting projects involve adding something special to an existing home.

Home Entertainment

One home improvement remodeling task you might like to do is to install an entertainment system that works throughout your home. The setup is crucial. The wiring for the system has to be run behind the drywall. This means that you either add this as a part of a larger renovation project that includes removing the drywall, or you have to string the wiring behind the drywall some other way.

You will have outlets behind your whole home entertainment system to plug in the components to AC current. There should be jacks for the cable and Ethernet feeds. You connect the audio wiring in each room to a special outlet near the entertainment system, and then hook it up. When you have successfully installed the system you should be able to listen to different music all over the house, and watch movies with surround sound in your main entertainment room and from any TV in the house.

This installation process must be done carefully to achieve maximum functionality and maintain an attractive appearance. If you have any qualms about doing this home improvement remodeling work yourself, it is a good idea to use a professional remodeling company to make sure it is done right.

Home Security

Installing a home security system is another one of those home improvement remodeling projects that must be hard-wired into the house. The wiring runs to a central location, usually in a basement or utility room. At this spot, you put the master controls and alert relays. Then, throughout the house, you install sensors to catch break-ins, fires, and elevated levels of carbon monoxide.

To do the job, you will have to know the various kinds of sensors and how to install each one. There are magnet sensors, switch door sensors, glass-breaking sensors, carbon monoxide sensors, smoke sensors and heat sensors. The sensors must be placed carefully or the alarms might go off when they are not supposed to. Conversely, if you do not wire the sensors in appropriately, the alarms might not sound at all. This is a job that you must be sure you can do correctly; otherwise you will be putting your family’s security at risk.

Green Living

One type of specialty task that is becoming more and more commonplace is a green home improvement remodeling project. There is so much that you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your home that it is a shame not to do what you can.

A green remodeling job can include energy efficient appliances and fixtures. It can mean increasing the insulation in your house or getting more efficient windows or doors. It can also mean working towards net zero energy consumption by producing energy with solar panels. A skilled home improvement remodeling company can help you find all the best ways to go green.