5 Green Home Improvement Ideas
Some may argue "it’s not easy being green," but there are always ways to transition to and maintain more sustainable living practices—and investing in your home with eco-friendly upgrades is a smart (and fun!) place to start.
Here, we’re going to discuss 5 simple ways you can make your home more environmentally conscious.
Why Going Green Is Important
Whether it’s through your energy, water or transportation use, by making eco-friendly choices and reducing your carbon footprint, you’re actively working to help make the planet more sustainable and habitable for others. And it isn’t a surprise that a lot of your living practices take place at home – one of the most important places to start making green improvements.
1. Upgrade To Energy-Efficient Appliances
Energy efficient appliances are a long-term investment that can go a long way when it comes to improving home sustainability and saving you money. High-efficiency washers can prevent hundreds of gallons of water waste every year, and upgrading to better, ENERGY STAR-certified refrigerators, light fixtures and dryers can easily cut your energy usage in half.
Many homeowners also like to get an energy audit before making any major changes to their appliances or home wiring. Audits like these are done by professionals who can go through your home and point out places where changes can and should be made.
Thinking about making the switch to energy-efficient home appliances? Read more.
2. Add Home Solar And Green Roofing Options
When we think about green homes, our first considerations often focus around solar energy. But what is solar energy? And how can we use it to our home’s advantage?
Solar energy has become tremendously popular in the United States in recent years. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s 2018 Solar Market Insight report, the U.S. had enough solar energy installations to power 12.3 million homes.
There are two types of solar energy: active and passive. Active solar energy involves professionals installing solar panels onto a homeowner’s roof, while passive solar energy is more about your home’s original design (like having south-facing windows).
The effectiveness of solar energy varies by home location and size. However, there are other installations you can consider when it comes to your roof, like skylights, that can help cut down your home’s artificial light by nearly 40%.
Curious how much solar panels can save you on your monthly energy bill? Read more.
3. Use Recycled And Reclaimed Materials
From kitchen cabinets to garage doors, you can take on almost any home project with ethically-sourced, reclaimed materials.
When shopping for project materials, search for recycled steel or aluminum instead of new metals that require mining and importing. You can also find reclaimed wood, or wood retrieved from old buildings, for reuse. As you shop around for your project materials, make sure to pay attention to where the materials are sourced from; choosing ethical products nearby will cut down on transportation costs and fossil fuel emissions.
If you choose a contractor to take the lead on your home project, you will want to ensure that you know which manufacturers and installers they plan on using, and what eco-friendly practices they offer. In addition to ethical building materials, some contractors and companies will promise non-toxic insulation, recycled packaging, etc.
Setting a good foundation and expectations for how your home project gets built (and how its remnants get taken care of) will give you the right environment to start living more eco-friendly.
4. Think Green With Your Landscaping Plan
A relatively inexpensive way to add home value is by investing in your landscape and curb appeal.
When it comes to following garden sustainability, you will want to avoid old landscaping practices like overwatering or pesticide use. Here are a few specific ways to grow and nurture a natural garden:
Prioritize Native Plants
Use plants that grow in your area naturally. These types of plants are already familiar to your climate, and will thrive more naturally in your yard.
Focus On Functionality
Back in the day, many homeowners focused their landscape on appearance. Consider how you can best utilize your landscape to be multi-purpose; an organic garden doesn’t just look good – it can also provide you and your family with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, too!
Integrate A Rain Garden
A shallow, bowl-shaped garden designed to collect the runoff water from your lawn, driveway, gutter and sidewalk can help reduce water consumption and soil erosion.
5. Install Eco-friendly Flooring
Whether you are looking for hardwood or carpet, there are eco-friendly flooring options for your entire home. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to use reclaimed or salvaged wood for your home projects wherever and whenever possible.
When shopping around for carpet, look for non-toxic options; many new carpets and adhesives contain chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOC). These chemicals are not only bad for the environment, but also dangerous to your family to breathe in your home. When picking a green carpeting solution, look for carpets labelled "low VOC" that are made from natural fibers like wool, jute, seagrass or sisal. Choosing lightweight carpets without petroleum-based padding – either no padding or padding made from felt – is also ideal. And you can always ask your carpet installer to use water-based, low-VOC glues if the carpet requires adhesive.
Of course, you can always think outside the box when adding flooring and designing your home. Cork, bamboo, glass tiles, polished concrete and linoleum are other eco-friendly alternatives to popular hardwood and carpet solutions.
Now that you know what to consider when it comes to tackling sustainability with your home, it’s time to get started! Not only will these smart and trending home upgrades naturally reduce your carbon footprint overtime, but they can also help you build sustainable habits and add value to your home.
And if you need any help achieving more as you transition to an eco-friendlier lifestyle, consider applying for a Rocket Loans home improvement loan. Our customized – and paperless – borrowing proces
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Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value?
Looking to increase your home’s value and energy savings? Solar panels might help. Read our guide on whether adding solar panels to your home is worth it.
How To Save With Energy Efficient Appliances
Thinking about switching to energy efficient appliances? Learn what it means to go green with your appliances and how it will sustainably impact your home.