Home renovations have surged in the past two years, as we adapt our space to evolving lifestyles. Kitchen renos, home offices, home gyms, outdoor recreation and garden areas top the list as families do more things together at home.
At the same time, fluctuating energy costs, a greater awareness of sustainability, climate change and a desire for more comfort and improved indoor air quality are all playing major roles in the quest to renovate with the environment in mind.
Are you planning a home renovation project? You’ll be happy to know that renovating your home will have a much lower impact on the environment than a new build.
You can reduce your carbon footprint and save money by refinishing or repairing existing components instead of throwing them in the landfill.
Incorporate energy-saving upgrades and repairs into your renovation. Now is a good time to evaluate how energy efficient your home really is and make upgrades and changes that will save energy and reduce your costs. A home energy audit will tell you where your home wastes energy. Check for drafty windows and doors, poor insulation, air leaks, dampness, or mold and mildew that can lead to poor air quality and health conditions. Did you know that you can reduce your household’s greenhouse gas emissions by softening only your hot water?
Check out your local municipality or region for rebate and incentive programs that can help make valuable changes to your home that will not only be better for the environment, but also reduce your energy costs.
Choose the best time of year to do your renovation. For example, in the winter, if you need to keep doors and windows open for proper ventilation, your heating bills will increase. If you will be painting, consider the best temperature range for paint to be applied.
Be selective when sourcing materials. Ask questions and determine if the supplier is environmentally responsible.
Preserve what you can – reduce waste, recycle, repurpose, give away, sell. Landfill waste is a huge contributor to increasing levels of CO2. It’s much easier on the environment to donate your old kitchen cabinets, windows, doors, wood trim, flooring, appliances, and light fixtures to your local ReStore or other recycling stores for someone else to enjoy.
Incorporate salvaged materials into your home renovation to add an original touch, character and charm.
Reclaimed wood flooring and trim, antique light fixtures, floor grates, mantelpieces, chandeliers, old wooden, leaded and stained-glass windows and doors are only a few of the components that will add beauty to your renovation.
When renovating an older home, you can never be sure that the materials used in its original construction are safe. Be aware of dangerous materials such as asbestos, mold, mildew, dust particles, and lead in old paint. Investigate safe ways to remove old paint and be cautious when removing old flooring or opening up walls. Dispose of stripped paint and varnish in a responsible way that does not damage the environment.
Choose low-emission products such as water-based paints with low to zero volatile organic compound (VOC) ranges that are safe for everyone in your home and the environment. Take care to dispose of any leftover paint responsibly or seal it and keep it for the future. You can also take it to your local hazardous waste recycling depot.
Investing in energy-saving LED light bulbs and power strips will reduce your carbon footprint and save you money in the long run as they use less electricity, produce little heat and last much longer than regular bulbs.
Install motion detectors for added security in doorways, driveways and backyards that turn off automatically when not needed. Additional windows and skylights will give more natural light, which can reduce the amount of energy needed for lighting.
If your home has a relatively new roof or you will soon be getting a new roof, your home may be a good candidate for solar panels. A south-facing roof with unobstructed sunshine may provide a renewable energy source.
Smartphone applications are making it easier to preserve energy used by lights and appliances. Control your lighting, heating and security systems remotely, and receive alerts if an appliance or light has been left on.
Smart Technology can be applied to: blinds for your windows; light bulbs; mirrors; speakers and garbage cans. These are just a few of the many Smart products already on the market.
Appliances are responsible for up to 15% of the energy used in kitchens, so energy-efficient appliances make a huge difference in keeping your carbon footprint low. Did you know that unplugging your appliances when not needed will also help you save energy?
Make sure your heating and cooling systems are running efficiently. Get your furnace checked at least once a year to detect any problems and keep it in peak performance for a longer life.
Programmable thermostats are an effective tool to reduce your carbon footprint further, by allowing you to set the ideal temperature for when you are at home, away or sleeping.
Heat pumps are a good alternative solution for heating and cooling your home. Depending on your location and climate, they can be an excellent energy-saving source of heating and cooling all year.
There are a multitude of ways to reduce your carbon footprint when renovating your home, whether you are updating one room or remodeling your entire home. The choices we make today when renovating will make a huge difference for future generations and the planet.