No matter how big or small your home renovation is, there are many ways to ensure that the changes you make to your home will not only create a healthy environment for your family and shrink your carbon footprint (something your planet will definitely thank you for), but will also save you a lot of money down the road.
Whatever your renovation plan is, try to do as much as you can to increase the energy and water efficiency of your home, ensure clean indoor air, and use resource-smart materials and products to enhance your home.
These measures don’t have to be complicated. While some may involve a more substantial investment upfront, they will certainly reap substantial savings for you over time.
Here are some easy, green steps you can take in your next home renovation:
- Kitchen: Energy-efficient appliances are a no brainer, but you can also install cabinetry made from low-emission materials— such as hardwood or sealed particle board— and can put in butcher block wood, stone, or Greenguard Certified laminate counters to further your green efforts.
- Bathroom: Install low-flow toilets and a more efficient shower head. Consider the same type of counters options as listed above, as well as durable, non-slip flooring such as recycled tile or linoleum.
- Roof or attic: Changes to these areas afford you an opportunity to fill un-insulated spaces in your home — a major source of heat loss. Consider using eco-friendly rock wool or cellulose insulation.
- Living room/bedroom areas: Look at buying low-emission flooring (i.e., hardwood, cork, marble, or ceramic), or carpeting made from natural or recycled material.
- Basement: When renovating this area, take the opportunity to upgrade its insulation and ventilation systems, and air and moisture seal the walls and floors.
- Paint: Use low- or no-VOC paints. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds—carbon-containing chemicals linked to production of ozone and a host of health hazards.
- Lighting: Install energy efficient lighting and fixtures. Upgrade light fixtures and bulbs to compact fluorescent, halogen and LED lights. Think about skylights and light tubes, and enlarging windows to cut down the use of artificial light during the daytime.
- Furnace: If it’s older than 15 years, it is likely operating with only a 55-60% efficiency, wasting you 45 cents of every dollar. Change it for a condensing gas furnace with an efficiency of 95% or higher.
- Layout/space flow: Consider taking down a wall to take advantage of the natural light from windows in the adjacent areas, and to create a more efficiently distributed heating and cooling flow.
- Windows and doors: These can be a major source of energy loss. They are what is called the fenestration, or openings in a building, pivotal to ventilation, lighting and comfort. Energy-efficient windows, doors, and skylights substantially lowers a home’s heating, cooling, and lighting costs.
Any renovations guided by eco-friendly criteria is bound to recompense at least a part of your investment over time! Better yet, there are often tax breaks for undertaking this type of renovation – check into the federal and your provincial government’s initiatives on this front before starting your renovations.