10 Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Ideas

Today, it’s more important than ever to consider eco-friendly or “green” products and materials when you improve your home. This is of course because we want to do our part to keep the environment healthy, but it’s also because most of us can’t afford to waste money on inefficient homes. Many products and materials that are eco-friendly can also help your pocket book–think inexpensive heating and cooling bills, low water bills, and affordable gas or electricity bills.

Fortunately, there are many options today for those who want to make eco-friendly home improvements. Here are 10 ideas to get you started:

1. Tons of water is wasted each year in the bathrooms of homeowners, so take a look in there when you’re doing your green remodeling. For the toilet consider a dual flush model. These are designs that use two different flush settings depending upon what you need (usually a powerful mode that offers 1.6 gallons and then a nice and gentle .8-gallon flush as well). This can greatly help reduce water consumption in the home over the course of a single year.

2. Paint goes a long ways in adding curb appeal to the outside of a house or cheering up drab spaces inside. It’s also an easy and relatively inexpensive home improvement that will make a huge difference. When you are selecting paint, stick to only brands that use non-VOC or non-volatile organic chemicals. Typical paint has high levels of VOCs, which is neither eco-friendly nor particularly healthy. You may need to search for brands and special lines that offer low and reduced VOC levels, but they are becoming more readily available. Just ask at the paint department of the home improvement store, and someone should be educated enough to help you find an eco-friendly paint that will suit your needs.

3. Flooring is one of the first things people think of when they remodel, and there are lots of ways to get what you want and still be eco-friendly. For those who are looking for a natural type of material then cork flooring is a great option to explore. It is durable, comfortable to walk on, and also boasts the use of no toxic adhesives that can harm the environment. There are a wide range of colors and designs for cork floor tiles, showing that the material is not meant just for walls and bulletin boards anymore.

4. Your floors may not really need to be replaced at all. Reusing and refinishing already existing materials is a hallmark of the green movement, so another viable home improvement option that you can look into is refinishing the floors that you currently have. This is especially plausible if you have wood floors underneath any other type of floor in your home. While it may take some work to make them shine again, it is worth the effort.

5. Carpets can be eco-friendly too. Sometimes it’s hard to beat the warmth and softness of carpets, but if you want to be green and healthy (carpeting is well known for harboring dust mites, pet dander, and mildew, all of which are hard to get out even with steam cleaning), consider carpet tiles. These are typically created from recyclable materials and are very easy to install as well as clean. This makes them a beautiful choice as well as a simple option for carpet across an entire room. You can even get outdoor carpet tiles to spruce up balconies or rooftop decks.

6. If you’re going with carpets, know that carpet padding isn’t always necessary. Skip the carpet padding if possible. This is usually additional material that is used when using traditional carpet and involves additional labor, materials, and chemicals and also makes it much harder to keep the carpet clean without the use of harsh chemicals.

7. In the bedroom look for organic bedding. Many off-the-shelf bedding products are treated with a chemical called formaldehyde, which is intended to make them soft, but this is a huge toxic chemical and very hazardous to the environment as well as your own personal health. Look for organic bedding to avoid the dangers to your health.

8. As for the bed itself, consider eco-friendly mattresses. There are several companies that have them available; most are typically made from a material called natural latex rubber, which is friendly to the environment. Also these mattresses pose fewer problems when it’s time to replace them.

9. Think solar power whenever possible. This can save you a lot of money in the long run. For example, if you are replacing your water heater, consider a solar powered model. This will reduce energy usage, lower your power bill, and ensure that you always have plenty of hot water on hand, even if the power is out in the rest of the house.

10. If you’re not ready to take the big remodeling step, you can make green choices just in your home furnishings. One of the best things you can do is purchase used furniture. This helps to keep old furniture out of the landfills, and it reduces the demand on forests and materials to build new pieces from scratch. Also, older pieces tend to be higher quality than what’s put out today (i.e. solid hardwood instead of particleboard), so you may actually get a better piece of furniture just by sanding and staining an old coffee table or perhaps reupholstering old chairs and sofas. Getting used furniture is a great way to save some money and be eco friendly all at the same time.

There are far more home improvements to save money and create an eco-friendly home than listed here, but these should get you started. As you go down the remodeling road, you’ll find plenty of other ways you can create a home that is healthy to live in and is friendly to the environment.

Reasons For Building A Green Home

The earth’s behavior to human activities is changing with the passage of time. Issues such as greenhouse effect are appearing. Environmentalists are forced to create ways to avoid such unwanted situations that may pose a threat to the human life in the future. With the help of governments, they are able to convince the public to change their lifestyles and work for the betterment of the future of the earth. One such step is making a greener and environment friendly home. Since home improvement is on the rise due to the changing trends that the public tends to follow, the green home improvement can be one way to help the earth to keep up its beauty and a healthy future for the human race that is yet to come into existence.

One of the most important reasons to make your house a greener place is the regulation of healthy air that results from adding plants and greenery to the empty spaces of the house. Like this, you will be able to keep up the health of all the occupants of your house. The second advantage is that the beauty resulted from the filling of the empty spaces of your home with greenery helps support a comfortable living environment.

The house can be made greener by introducing solar panels, white-painted roof tops, and dual window panes. This means that the indoor temperatures can be maintained and the need for electrical appliances such as air-conditioning units and electrical heaters is reduced. As a result, the energy that is provided by the government and produced by those non environment friendly sources such as thermal and nuclear power plants, is consumed in lower amounts. Moreover, the lower energy costs favor your budget by allowing more money to be spent on stuff that you would love to spend on. Greener homes will also protect the non-renewable resources that are used to produce electrical energy.

With a reduced dependence on fossil fuels, the earth’s atmosphere can be sustained well. This means that lower amounts of carbon emissions will enter the ozone layer and lower depletion of the ozone layer will result. If a large population of the world starts green home improvement, a global impact can be experienced. Just by some small changes such as switching to energy conserving appliances can make a huge difference and benefit the world for years to come.

Even various governments appreciate the green house improvements. Some of the ways of showing off their appreciation is to give the owners of such buildings with tax benefits. This is surely a great short-term benefit for becoming an environmentalist. The real estate resale value of the green houses is also greater than the traditional houses that do not include features of the eco-friendly buildings.

Brits Shown to Favor Green Home Improvements

Eco-friendly home improvements appear to be increasingly sought-after by Britons, it has been reported.

In research carried out by Legal & General as a part of its ongoing Changing Face of British Homes study, it was revealed that making greener changes to lifestyles is an evermore popular option for members of the public. The study showed that some 37 per cent of people have installed either draught-proofing or double glazing. Meanwhile, 25 per cent of respondents were shown to have fitted additional loft insulation.

For those consumers looking for an effective way to carry out eco-friendly improvements to their property, such as double-glazing and loft insulation, taking out a low-cost home loan may be useful.

The study also showed that just under three-quarters of Britons use low-energy light bulbs, with 23 per cent of respondents looking to recycle rain water. Making sure electrical appliances are not left on standby and making use of reusable shopping bags were also revealed to be popular eco-friendly lifestyle changes. Meanwhile, recycling rubbish was indicated as the most sought-after means in which people lead a greener lifestyle. Overall, 98 per cent of people claimed to be taking steps to improve their environmental efficiency.

However, it appears a significant number of Britons only want to make environmentally-friendly changes when it suits them, with more than half of those questioned said to be unhappy about being charged for waste removal services. An estimated 23 per cent are said to be irked at having to pay for plastic carrier bags at supermarkets and shops.

Commenting on the figures, Ruth Wilkins, head of communications for Legal & General’s general insurance business, said: “While people are annoyed by the implementation of green initiatives the efforts being made to force residents to recycle more of their rubbish are beginning to pay off, with recycling rates jumping from seven per cent to 33 per cent in the past ten years. Legal & General’s recent research would support these findings as the Changing Face of British Homes research shows that a large number of us are taking steps to become greener. Brits simply want to make their own decisions regarding how and when to be green.”

Ms Wilkins went on to report that it is important for those homeowners thinking about carrying out major improvements to their property which are of an environmentally-friendly nature “to check their insurance cover to make sure they are covered under the terms of their policy”.

For consumers wishing to renovate their house – and at the same time help take steps to save the environment – applying for a homeowner loan could be useful. In obtaining this kind of home loan it may be possible that the cost of installing eco-friendly improvements – such as cavity wall insulation, biomass heaters, draught proofing and solar heating panels – can be met quickly and affordably. Indeed borrowing for the purposes of financing home improvements could be rising in popularity after a recent Lloyds TSB study revealed a 19 per cent increase in loan applications for such purposes this month in comparison to August 2007.

Choose Green Home Remodeling and Let the Sun’s Energy Power Your Home

When considering a green home remodeling project, think of the sun. Now is a perfect time to consider switching to a renewable energy source such as solar power. Many homeowners don’t consider solar because they think it too expensive, unreliable, or complicated. However, solar panels have improved greatly in the last 20 years. They are smaller, more efficient and reliable, less expensive, and easier to obtain.

Solar energy creates no pollution and it’s free. While solar panels themselves are not free, they’re a very effective long-term investment. A variety of local, federal and state tax credits and incentives can cut the expense by as much as 50 percent. If you generate more power than your home uses, you can try selling the extra power to your local utility. You can also rent your solar panels, reducing your initial cost, and letting you pay for the rental from energy savings.

Many homeowners erroneously believe that solar power will provide reduced power at certain times or will require expensive batteries. Solar systems can create power on cloudy days, although they generate more on sunny days. Because most solar panels are tied to the electrical grid, a process called net metering allows you to build up credit during the day – when your system is generating more power than you need – and draw on that credit at night. If your home is too isolated for a grid connection, you may want to consider a generator or a battery back up.

Before you sign on for solar there are a couple of considerations. First, check your utility bills; if they are already low for your area, solar panels might not be a good investment. Next, see how much sun hits your roof every day. If your roof is shaded for much of the day, you might not be a good candidate or you may need to trim some trees. Finally, see if your roof has a southern exposure. Other exposures work, but they may be somewhat less efficient or more expensive.

Good installers can evaluate your home’s potential for solar power and make estimates for costs. As with any green home improvement project, it pays to get bids from a number of contractors. Choose a company that is experienced and licensed.