Of late, we’ve been seeing more people adopt more environmentally responsible lifestyles. But being “crunchy,” as people who make conscious efforts to become more eco-friendly are sometimes called, doesn’t stop at eating free-range chicken or going off-grid although those are important parts of it. Earth lovers have also been building or remodeling their houses to become greener, and here are some savvy ways they’ve been going about it:
Recycling materials – It’s true that some things have to be bought new, but wood doesn’t always have to be so. Salvaged wood can be used for countertops, flooring, or furniture as long as the pieces are still in good shape. Any superficial wearing can add character to a space. A similar approach can also be taken with glass, metal, and brick, among others.
Integrate water- and energy-saving systems – Collecting rainwater or reusing greywater (that is, wastewater from sinks and baths) for flushing toilets or watering plants are some ways to keep water consumption low, as is installing water-efficient taps, toilets, and showerheads.
We can also save on electricity by using solar panels, appliances with inverter technology, and by planning the renovation with more windows to let in as much natural as possible. Proper insulation helps temperature control, so we don’t have to work our heaters or air conditioners so much.
Use paint with lower volatile organic compound levels (VOCs) – Certain paint brands have highly-toxic chemicals that can cause pollution and health problems, not just upon application but also during production – these are to be avoided. Fortunately, there are water-based paints that use natural ingredients, making them safer for people and the environment without sacrificing color quality.
Maintain a responsible garden – Just because a garden is lush and verdant, it doesn’t really mean it’s actually “green,” as the drought-shaming issue in California has shown. For a truly green garden, one should choose native plants that are well acclimated to the area’s conditions, and maintain these using eco-friendly anti-weed and –pest solutions, and the aforementioned rainwater stores.
Build to last – When things are created with a focus on durability, they don’t have to be replaced too often, saving on money and resources. That said, using natural, renewable and indigenous building materials whenever possible can make renovation more affordable, socially-conscious, and responsible too.
Of course, once the home is completely renovated, it’s still important for the owners to embrace a socially responsible lifestyle. Otherwise, the renovations won’t pay off economically or environmentally.
Thanks to my spending my days working with a home restoration crew in Austin, Texas, I,Pamela Rothe, have picked up a few remodeling ideas here and there. Follow me on Twitter for more home renovation tips.