English novelist Jane Austen once wrote, “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” I completely agree with that statement, but when my husband and I first bought a house described as a “handyman’s dream” my feelings on the matter were quite different. And that was before we discovered the family of squirrels living in the attic!
Adding insult to injury, our single-family fixer-upper was one of the more than 125 million homes built in America before Americans knew the value of green building practices. Old wooden windows with cracked panes of glass, outdated appliances, and a broken fireplace damper caused our electric bill to skyrocket. We knew we had to do something to save both our home and our hard-earned dollars.
Prioritizing Specific Tasks
The previous owner had a new roof installed just before putting it on the market, so we started with the windows and appliances. According to the United States National Association of Home Builders, over 90% of remodelers select windows with a high energy efficiency rating. Additionally, more than 85% of these same contractors use appliances with an Energy-Star® rating. (www.nahb.org) We followed suit, and the money we saved on the utility bills alone helped pay for the rest of the project.
Professional home remodelers are doing everything from using less lumber that originates from old growth forests to taking advantage of natural landscaping to regulate the temperature inside the home in an effort to practice green remodeling. Many go a step further and also try to improve the air quality inside the homes as well.
Green Remodeling Suggestions
While you do have to obtain the appropriate permits as required by the local ordinances for the area in which you live, you don’t have to be a professional to tackle some light green remodeling projects. Here are some ways that you can be greener when updating your family’s older home.
- Bamboo Floors – Unlike traditional hardwood floors, bamboo is eco-friendly. Because bamboo grows at alarmingly fast rates, it is a more highly renewable resource than hardwood, which could take two decades or longer to mature enough to be used to create flooring. Additionally, bamboo floors are easy to maintain and naturally water resistant.
- Solar Heat – Using the power of the sun to heat your home can lower your electric bills. In some cases people have managed to eliminate their electric bills entirely! People not only use solar to heat and cool their homes and as a source of electricity, but also to run appliances like their hot water heaters.
- Saving Water – When replacing the shower head or changing out a toilet, consider using a low-flow version. They do the same job as the standard versions while using less than half the water. Additionally, adding aerators on all of the faucets in your house will cut your water consumption by half.
- Green Landscaping – In addition to composting, plant perennials that come back year after year. They not only save you the money that it costs to replace annuals with traditionally short-lived blooms each spring, but their roots help keep the earth in place which means your yard’s valuable soil won’t wash away due to rain or snow.
- Compost – Using a compost pile has so many benefits! It is not only a great way to use up old food, get rid of fallen tree leaves, and recycle newspapers as well as some other paper products, but it helps the earth, too. When you use composted soil in your garden and other landscaping projects, you are improving the physical health of your yard. Composted soil adds natural moisture, balances the pH, and provides vital nutrients.
There is really no sense in investing a lot of time and energy into a green remodel for your family’s home if you are going to use decorating tactics that are not earth friendly. Rugs made from hemp instead of wall-to-wall carpeting, replacing your lumpy old bed with discount mattress sets that boast organic qualities, and using air purifiers that feature HEPA filtration are all green tactics.
These methods last longer, which means that being eco-friendly will save you money in the long run. When you use green cleaning products to keep your home neat and tidy, then you are doing even more to save the environment. However, you are also doing more to save your family’s health as earth-friendly items often lack chemicals that trigger harmful allergic reactions.
Freelance writer Becky James-Muth grew up in a world dominated by males working in various aspects of the construction industry. When it came time to fix up her family’s home she pitched right in offering advice and helpful comments. However when it came to choosing a new mattress she, like many others, turned to the internet where she found www.best-mattress-reviews.com, a site with plenty of useful information about choosing just the right surface for sleeping. In her spare time Becky enjoys knitting and walking with her dog.