When someone mentions eco-friendliness to a homeowner about to renovate his or her home, they immediately think of how much money will all that care about the environmental cost. In reality, eco-friendliness and affordability go hand in hand so there is no reason for your renovation project not to be environmentally sustainable. Moreover, there are several hacks that will help you build a stylish and energy-efficient home so it’s a win-win situation for you.
A Home Without Draft
One of the biggest enemies of an energy-efficient home is draft. It always seems to find its way inside your house, creating a breeze felt by everyone inside. Apart from the feeling of discomfort, a draft will increase your utility bills because heating needs to work extra hard to make up for the loss of energy through various opening.
Up to a fifth of all heat energy in the house is lost through the windows. If your windows frames are old and cracked up, definitely have them replaced. Often enough, only the caulking will need repairing. Draft-proofing your house doesn’t only incorporate the window area. The front door can be problematic as well. The mail slot should feature a door or a rubber gasket and the same can be said of the bottom side of the front door.
Using Eco-Friendly Paint
The DIY centres have gone crazy about VOC paints, i.e. paints without chemical ingredients that evaporate into the atmosphere during the drying process. If you’re planning a paint job, then get paint like this since they don’t lag behind in terms of quality when it comes to conventional paints.
In fact, you might have a wider selection of shades that offer excellent coverage and durability but luckily, lack the harmful solvents that hurt the environment. Just think about it: if you repaint the front door, do you really want the toxic paint to remain on your doorway and the front lawn, where kids and animals play! Don’t play with your wellbeing and create a list of the local natural paint suppliers.
Tending to the Floors
Another surface through which you lose heat energy is the floor. Usually, the basement is located right under the floor which means that the insulation is poor. That’s why we do not recommend leaving the floors bare, as covering them with hardwood can stop the heat from escaping during the winter months.
Furthermore, you can go with alternative flooring options such as bamboo (which is cheap and widely available) or cork. The latter is a renewable material that feels well underfoot. In fact, cork can as an eco-friendly alternative to carpeting since it possesses excellent acoustic and thermal properties. Add to softness and waterproofness to that and you get the ideal flooring solution. In the future, we can expect more cork to be produced for flooring purposes, as Australia’s wine industry has switched to screwcaps.
Taking Full Advantage of Natural Lighting
One of the best tactics that will prevent you from turning the light on inside the house after dusk is letting as much natural light in as possible. This can be achieved through the installation of larger window panes or adding extra windows. If your water room lacks a source of natural light, make a hole in the other wall and install a window, regardless of its surface size.
If a windowless room is situated in the dead center of the house and cannot be embellished with a window, then look up and build a sun tunnel. The rooms in the attic can use from several skylights. Furthermore, you can place mirrors and similar reflective surfaces in places they would reflect natural light through the house for the longest period of the day. All in all, you should postpone switching the artificial lights on as long as possible.
Switching to LEDs
Even after dark, when it’s requisite to turn the lights on, you can remain on the path of energy efficiency. Switching to LEDs is eco-friendliness 1-on-1 so make sure even the lone basement lightbulb uses LED technology. This way, you are consuming more than 40% less energy than you would if you used incandescent lightbulbs.
Furthermore, LEDs use 95% of energy for lighting and only 5% for heating so you won’t get burned while replacing an LED lightbulb. Finally, LEDs last longer and they produce nearly natural light if you install 3000K lightbulbs. For use in the household, don’t pick other lightbulbs off the shelf, regardless of their wattage.
Remodeling the Kitchen
While we’re on the topic of Led lights, they come in different shapes and sizes. An LED strip can be placed around the vanity mirror in the bathroom but it can also be installed underneath the kitchen cabinets. When placed here, they will shine directly on the kitchen counter, decreasing the risk of injury while using sharp objects.
Another way to upgrade a kitchen (an improvement popular among Australian homeowners) is to install a kitchen mixer instead of the conventional water tap. Typical kitchen mixers in Sydney are made from brass and possess a 5-star water rating which renders them eco-friendly. The solid brass design coupled with the polished chrome finish is the best guarantee you won’t waste water due to a leak.
As far as kitchen tiles are concerned, you should first increase the safety in this room by placing an anti-slip mat. After that, you can look to replace the tiles themselves if they are chipped away or simply broken. There are wall and floor tiles made from recycled aluminium and cement that are fairly stylish in terms of design.
Saving power is a major part of a true eco-friendly household. Today, most manufacturers are aware of the need to save power and water and they produce home appliances according to these standards. You can recognize their effort by purchasing only appliances that comply with the star system in force in Australia. The more stars an appliance has, the less energy it uses to operate.
Meeting high energy-efficiency standards is especially important for fridges and washing machines, the appliances that typically use up the most of your electricity. The latter are ranked based on how much water they use during a washing cycle. Modern washing machines can wash more laundry with less water when compared to the washers our mothers used at the beginning of the century.
Speaking of saving water, a low-flow toilet is just what your bathroom needs. With water shortages in many parts of the world, it would be irresponsible to turn your household into a water guzzler. Low-flow toilets are as efficient as conventional ones but they use less water to perform their main function.
A complete renovation of the house will require you to buy some new furniture. Sure, you can save the old sofa by changing its upholstery or adding colorful cushions but if the wood is broken, then you’ll need to buy a new one. If sustainability is on your mind, then don’t head to furniture showroom but to a yard sales or the Internet.
Here you’ll find toms of vintage sofas, nightstands, wardrobes, cabinets, etc., that people no longer need. Most of them will require some refurbishing but they can be made to look as good as new. There is no need for additional trees to be fallen only so you could have a new ottoman or a coffee table.
As you have seen from our examples, sustainable home improvements are affordable as well. A home without a draft, with salvaged furniture inside, and stylish, yet energy-efficient kitchen mixers is the pinnacle of both opulence and eco-friendliness.
Bio: Patrick Adams is a freelance writer and rock-blues fan. When he is not writing about home improvement, he loves to play chess, watch basketball, and play his guitar. More than anything, he loves to spend his time in his garage, repairing appliances and creating stuff from wood.