Whether you’re thinking about a full-scale remodel or just basic maintenance, make 2022 the year you go green for good.
When you’re wrapped up in the excitement of flashier changes like picking out paint colors and flooring, it’s easy to not want to dive deep into the VOC rating of that gallon of paint you just bought or find out if that new hardwood is from ethically sourced materials.
But the truth is, just like that perfect shade of greige, going green can greatly improve your everyday life at home. Renewable resources and alternative energy are part and parcel of an entire approach to your home that can increase your comfort, lower your energy bills, and protect the environment all at once.
Sustainable living isn’t just about the energy sources and materials you use — you can incorporate these elements into every aspect of home improvement. Here are seven tips for incorporating Earth-friendly strategies into your home decisions:
1. Don’t overlook simple energy-saving steps
Go through your home and identify points where you’re leaking air. Door and window edges are common culprits. Weather stripping, caulking and minimizing leaks can increase your home’s energy efficiency at a minimal cost.
2. Repurpose what you have
Be mindful of what you’re using when you renovate, and look for ways to upcycle or repurpose what you already own. For example, do you really need new cabinets, or will refacing them get the results you want while using fewer materials?
3. Put a premium on lifespan
When it’s time to replace things, think about the next replacement down the road. The longer a material or appliance lasts, the longer it takes before it reaches the landfill, which lowers your project’s potential negative environmental impact. A metal roof, for instance, will last longer than almost any other material.
4. Go for lower flow
Your water fixtures make a big difference. For instance, nearly a third of your water usage comes from toilet flushing. Install low-flow faucets, showers and toilets to bring down your water consumption — and your bill.
5. Pick alternative materials
With many home services, you can specifically request eco-friendly materials. For example, household cleaning solutions can use plant-based cleaning supplies that gently break down stains. Look for the EPA Safer Choice logo when shopping for your own goods.
6. Protect the south side of your house
The south side of your home gets the most direct and harsh sunlight. Heavy drapes and high-efficiency windows can help deal with this extra load. Planting trees and shrubs will also help create a shady oasis.
7. Plan for green replacements
Sooner or later, you’ll be making big-ticket purchases such as new heating, roofing or appliances. Start planning now for renewable options when you make these bigger investments. You probably won’t install a geothermal HVAC system on a whim, but you might do so if you’re replacing your system anyway.