More and more people are looking to go green as our planet proves to need it. We even teach children in school about energy-saving techniques like shutting off the lights and using less water. As a homeowner, you’re probably concerned about being as environmentally friendly within your home as you can.
To help, we’ve created this blog post to give you some ideas for home renovations that save you energy and have a positive effect on the big picture when it comes to the environment. For a more comprehensive guide to increasing your home’s value, you can refer to this guide put together by The Kay-Grant Group.
By this point, I’m sure you’ve become aware of the growing trend of solar panels, and this is for legitimate reasons. When it comes to environmental sustainability, solar energy is about as sustainable as you can get. Solar energy is an entirely renewable resource, unlike fossil fuels like oil and coal, and produces no harmful emissions whatsoever.
Relying on fossil fuels to create electricity is what puts those emissions into the air, negatively affecting the quality of not just the air, but the water and the soil. Using solar to power your home doesn’t just help you save money on your power bill, but it directly benefits the planet you live on.
Energy Star Appliances
Energy Star is a company where saving energy is its entire mission. Energy Star builds entire homes that are inspected and tested during and after the building process to ensure they meet requirements set by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
They consider the local climate conditions and build accordingly, carefully selecting the most efficient features they possibly can. You can probably imagine that if Energy Star creates entire homes to be energy-efficient, they will do the same with their appliances.
Apart from their home systems, like heating, cooling, and water management, they make all sorts of appliances, like washers, dryers, refrigerators, light fixtures, and ventilation fans, just to name a few.
They make their products last longer than other appliances, give a quality performance, and, of course, save energy. Energy Star appliances are inspected and certified to meet EPA criteria and range from 10 to even 50 percent more efficient than their conventional counterparts.
Whenever you’re looking for a new appliance, be sure to keep an eye out for an Energy Star label.
Tankless Water Heaters
You’re probably familiar with your water tank – that big bulky cylinder that’s usually in the garage, basement, or, in some cases, laundry room. However, maybe you aren’t familiar with the notion of a tankless water heater.
Tankless heaters, unlike water tanks, heat water as it travels through the pipes, and only heats water when you need it, rather than letting 40 or 50 gallons of water just sit. Not only does this method waste less water, but it reduces the amount of heat energy lost by hot water sitting in a tank, consequently affecting the ventilation of your home.
Not only do tankless heaters use less power due to being an on-demand system and waste less water, but they last longer too. The lifespan of a tankless water heater is around 20 years, versus the 10-15 year lifespan of a water tank.
The experts over at Waterheaterreviewssite.com explain that the workings of tankless water heaters can cut down your water bill by 10% and are much more sustainable.
On the theme of water conservation, an outstanding renovation would be to switch to a low-flow toilet. Whereas standard toilets can use anywhere between 3.5 and 7 gallons of water at a time, low-flow toilets can use as little as 1.6 gallons of water.
Two-button system toilets can get down to 0.8 as well if you’re flushing liquids purely. By switching to a low-flow, you can be saving thousands of gallons of water at a year and also a great deal of money on your water bill. It’s a win-win situation.
Energy-Efficient Doors and Windows
A good deal of heat and air is either going to come in or escape out your doors and windows. Excessive heat loss or heat gain makes your heating and cooling system work a lot harder, using more electricity than needed, so it may be time to look into some new windows and doors.
When it comes to your exterior doors, there are a few options you can choose from. Vinyl doors, for example, are fantastic insulators, blocking the outside heat or cold while keeping the temperature inside unchanging.
Fiberglass doors are an excellent choice too and are about four times more insulating than standard wooden doors. Not to mention, fiberglass is incredibly weather-resistant.
For windows, you’ll want to consider a couple of factors to look for. For colder climates, you’ll want to find windows with a low U-factor, which is the rate that non-solar heat comes through.
In warmer climates, you’ll be looking for a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), which is the rate at which solar heat comes through. Having small numbers for both of these factors is optimal and regulates the temperature inside your home.
Additionally, you might also want to inquire about the coating on the glass because certain coatings, like low-e coatings, will help reduce heat loss or gain as well.
Bet you probably didn’t think that changing up your carpets could help the environment, did you? You probably didn’t know either that standard area rugs are a lot more harmful than you think.
Big companies often make conventional carpets with toxic dyes, agricultural chemicals like pesticides, an adhesive that contains formaldehyde, and other chemicals that emit harmful gasses into your home. If one area rug in your home emits toxic gases without your realizing, think about how much of that dangerous gas goes into the air where they make mass-produce those carpets.
Fortunately, there are many companies, like Earth Weave and ecoFiber, which create non-toxic rugs using safe, ethical, and environmentally sustainable practices.
Buying from a company that makes non-toxic rugs supports an environmentally friendly business and you’ll be helping yourself to craft a better home as well.
There are so many changes, big and small, that you can make to your home to increase environmental sustainability. Even if you don’t have the time and money to do everything all at once, investing in even just one change is a more significant help than you know.