Although the media coverage often points the finger on large industrial zones and power plants that burn coal, homes are one of the primary sources of carbon emissions. Over time we’ve developed needs for fully-conditioned environments, as well as countless appliances and entertainment systems, all of which need the energy to run. Luckily, there are ways to bring balance to the consumption, in this case by reducing our home’s carbon footprint through renovation.
Deconstruct instead demolishing
If you need to tear down walls and expand your space, make sure to salvage the materials that can be repurposed or recycled. Demolishing rooms completely is certainly more fun, but also highly wasteful. Look for elements like light fixtures, flooring, moulding, and cabinets that you can reuse in another space, sell, or donate. When it comes to salvaged materials, any of these options is better than sending them to a landfill.
Choose sustainable materials
In addition to salvaging floors, cabinets, and hardware, choosing sustainable materials can be a good way to reduce waste. For example, you can reuse existing building materials for your extensions and remodels – look for places that sell reclaimed materials and save a couple of dollars on top of being responsible. Besides, try to purchase renewable materials, such as bamboo or timber that comes with a certificate proving it was harvested sustainably. Even when you knock down walls or pull up floors, there will be materials like brick and planks you can use for this or another project.
Use low-VOC paints
A new coat of colour will instantly refresh any room, but a lot of paint brands on the market contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Used as a binding agent in many products, VOCs can cause problems like headaches, nausea, as well as respiratory, eye, and skin irritations. One of the most common VOCs, formaldehyde, is a known carcinogen. Studies show that VOC levels are up to five times high indoors, so give your home a fresh start with a coat of zero-VOC or low-VOC paint.
The home’s heating and cooling system is often cited as the largest single energy consumer, so effective insulation is needed to prevent warm or cool air from escaping your home. Apart from upgrading the insulation between the exterior and interior walls, for extra insulation value, you can insulate the whole house on the outside. Although it seems like an overwhelming project, with the aid of mobile aluminium scaffolding, you’ll be able to complete it in two weekends. When it comes to air escaping, other areas you should pay attention to are the windows and doors.
Replace old windows and doors
Apart from improving the aesthetics of your home, new doors and windows can make your interior more energy-efficient by ensuring a tighter seal. This leads to lower heating and cooling costs, as well as improved curb appeal. Besides, in some areas, energy-saving purchases like these are eligible for government rebates and tax incentives. It’s argued that replacing an old, warped wooden door with a new stainless steel one yields one of the highest rates of ROI of any home renovation project, up to 102%.
Enable natural ventilation and lighting
Green renovation projects often make use of renewable energy. While solar panels require significant investments upfront, another aspect of the sun’s energy – the light can be used much more easily. for example, instead of relying heavily on air conditioners, you can remodel your living space so it includes a lot more passive heating. Well-placed windows and glazed patio surfaces won’t only increase the sunlight but also the home’s airflow. If you remodel with wind circulations and natural lighting in mind, your home will be less energy-dependent and more cost-effective in the long run.
Minimize water wastage
Reducing the future water ruse relies on several strategies that range from installing hot water recirculating devices that operate “on-demand”, to harvesting rainwater and introducing dual plumbing. The goal of these solutions is twofold – to reduce water use and maximise its distribution efficiency. Water-saving fixtures like dual flush toilets, low-flow faucets, and showerheads are the simplest upgrades you can make, while if you’re considering an extensive remodel, think about grouping wet rooms like laundry, kitchen, and bathrooms into a “plumbing core”, which reduces the hot water losses by cutting down on pipe routes.
Apart from reducing your carbon footprint and lowering your utility bills, home improvement projects that make your living more energy-efficient can also raise your home’s value, as more and more homebuyers are giving advantage to eco-friendly homes.