Renovating with a green perspective presents a unique set of considerations and challenges. However, for those passionate about taking charge of their effect on the environment, doing so is well worth the effort.
With a little forethought, green renovations can come out just as stylish as their traditional counterparts. Not to mention they come with the added benefit of helping the environment.
If you think an eco-friendly renovation is the right choice for you, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a guide on renovating with a green perspective. Use this to help take the guesswork out of your next big project.
Set realistic goals when renovating with a green perspective
Before starting any renovation, it’s important to set clear goals. To do so, we recommend sitting down with your family members and having a frank discussion to get everyone on the same page.
First, you’ll want to tackle questions that apply to any large home project, such as: Which areas of the home should be remodeled? What sort of style would you like to see in the finished product? How big is the budget for this project?
Then, since your focus is to create a more environmentally conscious home, look at the remodel from a green perspective. Ask yourself which aspects of eco-friendly living fit with your vision. Few have the resources to make their homes completely sustainable all at once, so it’s important to think realistically about which alterations will fit best within your current lifestyle.
Hire eco-friendly professionals
Sometimes the professionals know best. By seeking out like-minded contractors, you can be assured that you’ll have someone on hand who understands your vision. They’ll also be able to provide valuable insights on which products to buy and which factors will have the biggest environmental impact.
When searching for a green contractor, research is key. Look up well-known contractors in your area and their certifications. Here are a few notable national certifications to look for:
- National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) — Green Certified Professional (GCP)
- National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) — Certified Green Professional (CGP)
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) — LEED Professional Credentials
- Green Advantage (GA) — Green Advantage Certified Practitioner (GACP)
- Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) — Certified Green Contractor
In addition, remember to do the same research you would for a traditional remodel. Read reviews, ask to see portfolios and gather quotes. Above all, make sure you get your questions answered and feel comfortable before bringing anyone on board.
Invest in green materials and systems
If you can afford it, focus on including green systems and materials into the structure of your home. While these types of additions may come with a larger cost upfront, they have the largest environmental and financial impact over time.
A few options worth considering:
- Adding insulation: Proper insulation is vital because it keeps warm and cool air from escaping your home. By keeping the temperature consistent, your HVAC will use less energy, which could end up saving you up to 40% on your utility bills.
- Buy energy-efficient appliances: Another way to conserve energy is by investing in energy-efficient appliances. While the savings you’ll see will vary by model, a home improvement store like Sears will have plenty of options for you to choose from.
- Install solar panels: Solar panels allow you to harness energy from the sun’s rays. In addition to having the ability to sustain your own home, many electric companies offer programs where they buy back any excess.
- Check out tankless water heaters: The benefit of tankless water heaters is that they only heat water while in use rather than continually cycled. On average, they lead to energy savings between 27%-50% on your utility bills.
- Commit to sustainable building materials: Focus on choosing building materials that are biodegradable and sustainably procured. If possible, consider using some reclaimed materials.
- Choose geothermal energy over an HVAC: Geothermal energy is an air-delivery system that pumps heat from below the earth’s surface into your home. The EPA estimates that these systems can help you save between $400-$1,500 per year.
- Replace windows with Energy Star models: A study by Energy Star found that, on average, homes lose 30% of their heating and cooling energy through the windows. Replacing them can save you up to $500 per year.
- Consider a programmable thermostat: Programmable thermostats allow you to turn down your HVAC when you’re not using it and back up before you need it, giving you more control over your energy usage. You could save up to $180 a year, according to SaveOnEnergy.com.