Thursday, February 18, 2016

5 Sustainable Ways to Remodel Your Home

Today, I'm happy to welcome guest blogger AJ Earley, who offers some fantastic tips for sustainable home remodeling.

Five Sustainable Ways To Remodel Your Home

There are few things more exciting than doing a little home renovation, and the upcoming arrival of spring is the perfect time to get on those projects you’ve been wanting to do. Whether your remodeling project involves gutting and re-doing entire areas of the house, or just adding new paint or appliances, there are ways to keep your project green and sustainable. Here are five things to consider when upgrading your home:


One of the quickest and most inexpensive ways to change a room dramatically is to add a fresh coat of paint. Not to mention, it’s fun picking out the color(s) and coordinating a room! You can stick with a single, subtle color if your room has vibrant decor, or add a contrasting trim or accent wall. You can even get a little crazy and do designs and patterns, which is much easier than it looks.

The important thing to remember when painting is to select a paint that has no VOCs. VOC stands for volatile organic compound, and these are quite harmful in vapor form. These toxic chemicals contribute to many health issues; sometimes long after the paint has dried. It’s best to avoid them at all costs. Try to find a company that utilizes sustainable business and manufacturing processes. 


New flooring is a surprising way to bring new life to your home. If you’re trying to help out the environment, carpet is actually not the greenest option. It’s difficult to find carpeting materials that are green and eco-friendly, and maintaining carpets is a much bigger drain on the environment than hard flooring. Think about it: you have to use electricity at least once a week to vacuum them, and vacuum cleaners are not known for being energy efficient. When it comes time to give them a deep cleaning, you have to use gallons and gallons of water, often harsh chemicals and an even less energy efficient carpet shampooing machine. Plus, carpet has to be replaced much more often than hard floors.

Any sort of hard flooring is not only more cost-effective, it’s also greener. You don’t need any electricity to clean and disinfect it, a mere broom, mop, and solution of vinegar and water will do the trick. And it’s healthier: you can actually disinfect it. Carpets, not so much. Another thing to consider is your flooring material. Floors made from endangered redwood trees may look beautiful, but they're not an environmentally-friendly option. Bamboo, on the other hand, is fast-growing, sustainable, and versatile. It’s also stronger than steel! Bamboo flooring is hearty and long lasting. And it looks great to boot. 


Sometimes new window coverings are all you need to complete your redecorating, but sometimes new windows are in the cards, especially if you’re having problems with energy efficiency in your home. If this is the case and you don’t quite have the budget for all new windows, you can always take on a project to seal your drafts, which will save energy and money.

If you’re in the market for new windows, consider fiberglass windows, which are safe and durable. Also look into the energy efficiency rating of your glass manufacturer, because not all windows are created alike. If you’re going for new ones, you might as well invest in windows that are going to save you money in the long run. Don’t forget to boost your new windows' efficiency with venetian or roller blinds that can manage different types of light at different times of year. This will help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. 

Appliances And Fixtures 

Who wouldn’t love an updated, or completely new, kitchen or bathroom? If that's what your home needs, you’re in for a stressful, but ultimately fun and rewarding experience. Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the biggest remodeling projects you can take on, but there are many ways to utilize eco-friendly, sustainable resources during this process that will create a greener and more energy efficient home.

Many major brand names are upping their energy efficient game within the last decade, so you have lots of options when selecting new appliances. Just be sure to look for the Energy Star sticker, which is earned through a voluntary labeling program overseen by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and DOE (Department of Energy). You can find cabinets made from recycled, reclaimed, or salvaged wood, and counter tops made entirely of recycled glass, both of which are excellent and sustainable options.

If you’re going for new faucets, fixtures, or surfaces in the bathroom, there are several things to remember: first, find a reputable manufacturer known for environmentally friendly practices. Second, choose fixtures that reduce the flow of water so you waste less. Third, consider sustainably harvested surface materials like water-resistant cork and wood that have natural anti-mold properties. This will be healthier for everyone in your home and virtually eliminate the need for harsh cleaning chemicals. 

Green and Sustainable Luxury Items 

Homes come in all shapes and sizes, from humble cottages to expansive mansions. If you happen to have luxury amenities like a pool or giant television, it doesn’t mean you can’t be eco-friendly about it. You can always switch your pool or spa to a salt system instead of using toxic chlorine. Or, if you opt to eliminate the pool, that large backyard space can be converted into a vegetable garden.

The appliances in your huge gourmet kitchen can be gas instead of electric if gas is available. If you have a large roof, you might consider covering it with solar panels. If a massive television screen is something you can’t live without, consider switching to a projector, which uses about half as much wattage as a large plasma TV.

For those planning to hire a contractor or service to do any of the work, do your research and find a company with a green reputation and stellar reviews.

Lastly, remember that a green home is a happy home and happy homes make a happy earth. Cheers!

What green and sustainable remodeling projects are you planning or have you done?

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