When you are overhauling a fixer-upper, choosing to make your renovations more eco friendly is key to saving you money in the future. Energy-saving appliances and technology means lowered electric, gas, and water bills, and choosing more eco-friendly building materials and practices means less of an impact on the environment.
If you are part of the 44% of home buyers that searched for a new property online, you may have fallen in love with a listing only to learn that it has some issues that need to be improved on so your new home can become your dream home. On the other hand, if you are included in the 61% of people who have lived in their home for longer than 6 years that makes the choice to renovate their home instead of moving, you may be looking specifically to make your home more energy-efficient.
No matter why you are choosing to renovate your home, making environmentally conscious repairs and choosing energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly materials is key to having a sustainable home. Below are 10 tips for making your fixer-upper as environmentally conscious as possible.
1. Prioritize Using Sustainable Materials
No matter what area of your home you are renovating, there will definitely be sustainable options for many of the materials you are using. There is a huge market for materials that are sustainably made so that they have a lesser impact on the environment. For example, using bamboo flooring is a great alternative to traditional wood flooring. Bamboo is fast-growing and has very little impact on the environment when it is harvested. This makes it a perfect option for your green home renovation.
Another sustainable type of material is anything that has been recycled or repurposed. Choosing to use salvaged wood cabinets, for example, is a great sustainable switch for cabinets made out of new materials.
2. Repurpose Everything You Can
When it comes to being environmentally friendly, reusing and repurposing everything you can to avoid creating waste is very effective. Anything in your fixer-upper that is salvageable can be refinished to make it fit in with the new look of the house. Refinishing floors, reupholstering furniture that you already have, and reusing finishes like trim or molding are great ways to keep the character of the house intact while also being green.
Try to keep the idea of refreshing what you have instead of replacing it as you plan out your renovation.
3. Shop Local
When you choose to use local businesses to source your materials, you are helping to avoid the pollution that shipping materials create. Choosing to get furniture from a local builder instead of buying furniture from a big box store that ships its furniture from overseas is an easy way to avoid contributing to global pollution.
4. Avoid VOCs
VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are found in many brands of paint, building materials, and wood preservatives. Try to find materials that are labeled as being “VOC free” to make sure that you are not adding to the market for the compounds that damage the environment. If VOCs are unavoidable in some of your building materials, make sure to properly ventilate the area where you will be exposed to them and wear protective materials when possible.
5. Choose Energy-Saving Options
One area where replacing what is in the house already is actually more environmentally friendly is when it comes to appliances and plumbing. Energy-saving appliances are not only environmentally friendly but pocket-friendly as well. Using less energy means that your electricity and gas bills will go down, and since you are using less energy and gas you are helping the environment.
Replacing toilets and your water heater is another way to save energy. Toilets use a lot more water than you might expect, and choosing a low flow option is an easy switch that will you save water.
If you are gutting your fixer-upper, make sure to use insulation that will be able to keep your home from being drafty to save on heating and cooling bills as well. Older homes often are very drafty because of their lack of proper insulation, so choosing new insulation that can fix that problem will prevent your home from using more energy than it actually needs to stay cool or warm.
6. Use Alternate Forms of Energy
Installing solar panels in your home is a great option to save on your energy bills and create an environmentally-friendly energy source. You could choose to have areas of your home powered by solar energy, or you can contact your energy provider to see if they already have a system in place for solar power. The U.S. electrical grid is the largest in the world, with a total of 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. It has 5.5 million local distribution lines, and it is possible that your energy provider has a plan for those that want to install solar panels. You may get a discounted rate on your electric bills or another perk, so make sure to double-check with your provider.
7. Go Classic and Neutral
Though renovating a fixer-upper to make it more eco-friendly is a good decision, you want to avoid having to completely redo rooms of your home every few years when a trend goes out of style. Instead, choose to make the major parts of your renovation more neutral and classic. For example, choosing neutral countertops and cabinets in your kitchen will make it so that you do not need to replace those features if your style changes or if the home goes to a new owner.
However, you don’t have to avoid all of the fun trends you love. They can be incorporated in different, more easily interchangeable ways, such as what is placed in display cabinets or what kind of wall art you have hanging up.
8. Incorporate Plants in Your Design
Having greenery in your home is not only beautiful, but it can also create a more sustainable home. Having a backyard garden where you can grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs in the warmer weather can help you avoid the waste that comes with produce from the grocery store. You could also include an herb garden in your kitchen year-round so you always have those materials on hand.
9. Do Your Homework on Materials
When it comes to using the most sustainable materials, there is a lot of information out there. Look for unbiased sources that you can trust to get your information on materials. Websites have a tendency to be biassed towards their own products, so make sure that you find unbiased sources for different product options.
10. Choose Contractors that Know Sustainability
If you decide to work with a contractor, make sure that you choose to use one that knows about and has experience in sustainability and eco-friendly house renovation. Using a contractor that already has a good idea on how to renovate your home using eco-friendly practices is a great way to immediately gain the perspective of someone you can trust that has expertise and experience in sustainable renovation.
Armed with these tips, you are now prepared to begin planning, designing, and renovating your new fixer-upper. Best of luck in your green home renovation!