A shift is taking place in the home building and remodeling industry. Green homes, which have long been thought of as unattainable or too expensive, are as attainable and affordable as ever before. We’ll prove it throughout this post, providing five green remodeling tips to achieve an energy-efficient home.
Before we get to that, let’s discuss why so many people are choosing to go green.
Homeowners are increasingly concerned about contributing to future environmental issues and want to take steps to take care of the next generation. That’s part of the reason why it’s common to hear words like energy-efficient, sustainable and recyclable when talking about building a modern home. On top of that, increasing labor and material costs have a new generation of homebuyers rethinking the way they build and remodel homes.
“More and more homeowners are thinking of “legacy homes” – homes they leave to family members. In those cases, they can see it as a good thing to leave homes that have “green” products. Sustainable products can help homeowners get out of the ever increasing expense of maintenance.”
Todd E. Miller | Isaiah Industries
So how do you make a green home happen? Well, that’s why we spoke to some experts.
Complete an Energy Audit
Before you make any major renovations, or start your own DIY remodel, it’s important to know how your home is performing in its current state. Much of that performance is reliant upon how it’s using energy. Window and door leaks, outdated appliances and inefficient systems don’t exactly equate to an eco-friendly home. Knowing the root of the problem is the first step in completing a green remodel.
“Every remodel should start with an energy audit — these are incredibly helpful in-home tutorials on how your house uses (and wastes) energy. Often they are heavily subsidized by energy companies and will give you free light bulbs, water saving devices, even programmable thermostats and install them for free.”
Susannah Shmurak | HealthyGreenSavvy
Many homeowners, especially in homes that haven’t recently been built or updated, end up shocked at how much energy (and money) their home is wasting. Trained professionals can show you exactly where your house is leaking air and give you solutions on how to solve it. Susannah recommends an infrared examination to pinpoint spots where insulation is missing.
Wall cavities. That’s the space in between the inner and outer wall of your home. It’s important they are addressed to make an energy audit worth your while. Luckily, there are green solutions that are both inexpensive and effective. Blowing cellulose can have an instant impact, and can often be blown over insulation that’s already there. On top of that, many states offer rebate programs for doing such work.
Here’s a thorough guide on picking insulation for your home.
Utilize Passive Solar
Using the sun for good isn’t as intimidating as you might think. It doesn’t necessarily mean installing solar panels all across the roof of your home (although prices are at an all-time low). You want to use the sun to your advantage, allowing it to warm you up in the winter and blocking it out in the summer. You’ll be surprised at what a difference some simple solutions can make.
“Consider how the sun’s energy can positively and negatively affect your home. Plant deciduous plants and trees that can shade your home in the summer, but allow the sun to warm your home in the winter. Install shades or blinds that can reduce direct sunlight while the air-conditioning is running and allow it when the heat is running.”
Ed Roskowinski | Vujovich Design Build
You may already have the resources in your home to complete this step. It could come down to utilizing them to the best of your ability. And maybe you’ll start to think of going from passive solar to the real thing. As Ed says, “panels will start paying YOU money in under 10 years.”
Replace Old Appliances
Spending thousands on a new fridge may not sound like the most cost-effective green remodeling tip. So this tip is all dependent on your budget and how necessary you determine appliance upgrades to be. Regardless, it’s important to know many older appliances were manufactured without energy consumption in mind. That means your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and washer/dryer could be sucking up excess energy by the minute.
ENERGY STAR provides a great list of individual items and how much money and energy they can save you. You can also take advantage of rebate programs to get additional dollars back.
Choose Locally Sourced Materials
Choosing an eco-friendly product is great. Yet, eco-friendliness may refer to the product itself and not how it gets to you. If it has to be shipped across the country, it’d be hard to justify it as green. Picking local materials, such as wood flooring from a locally-owned business, provides that green aspect you’re likely seeking. Additionally, local professionals are a uniquely valuable resource. Their knowledge of nearby communities, the types of homes in the area and even the type of climate can’t be replicated by someone who isn’t local.
“Use materials that are locally sourced and fit your home. What works in Phoenix often won’t in Philadelphia, but it can also vary from home to home. The solution for a newer suburban home might not be right for a century old rowhome. The right green materials and design ideas will bring your house up to date while respecting its history.”
Kenny Grono | Buckminster Green
Going local has more benefits than just supporting a small business. The likelihood of you picking the right materials for your home will dramatically increase, making your home more energy-efficient.
Looking for more green remodeling resources?
Learn more about the basics of green building or eco-friendly flooring options.