10 Environmentally Friendly Home Improvements
While the prospect of green home improvements might seem daunting at first, they really don’t require much more effort than traditional renovations. Not only will these improvements rejuvenate the home, but they are often very cost-effective and can help the environment. What’s not to like?
Use Low VOC paint
One of the simplest ways of updating any room is to give it a fresh coat of paint; however, many aren’t aware of the damage this paint may be causing to the environment. Traditional paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are an important pollutant due to their contribution to the formation of the ozone. When VOC is releases into the atmosphere it reacts with nitrogen oxides, creating ozone molecules, causing smog and contributing to respiratory issues.
Those that have worked with VOC paint in the past may well remember the experience: staying too long in a poorly ventilated room can cause headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties and damage to the central nervous system. Although it might cost a couple of dollars more per can, low-VOC paint is better for the planet and the homeowner’s health.
Resurface rather than Remove
Rather than replace tired cabinets, why not try repainting them with low-VOC paint, or resurfacing them with linoleum, which has the same self-adhesive properties as PVC but is harder wearing and 100% biodegradable?
Consider Reclaimed Wood
Using reclaimed or salvaged wood is a cost-effective solution that really benefits the environment. Using recycled lumber avoids the deforestation needed for newly sourced woods. It also reduces landfill waste and the environmental impacts of manufacturing new products. There are many companies that specialize in providing quality reclaimed wood sourced for abandoned houses or properties soon to be demolished.
Home installations that require scaffolding, such as roof repairers or loft conversations, are the perfect opportunity to install solar panels. Solar hot water systems help to reduce greenhouse gasses and fossil fuel emissions.
Buy Second Hand
Rummage sales, vintage shops, and salvage yards are all great places to find things such as door handles, lighting fixtures, and textiles. Buying preloved will help to introduce a sense of charm and warmth while helping the environment and the local community at the same time.
Proper insulation is not only good for the environment but will help save money by keeping the heat in in the winter and the house cool in the summer. Those looking to insulate their house might want to try using environmentally friendly materials such as sheep’s wool or recycled plastic insulation strips.
Sustainable Flooring Options
For those who have fixing those wobbly floorboards at the top of their to-do list, why not consider a sustainable option? The examples below give an idea as to the wide variety of eco-friendly floor options on the market.
- Bamboo will give a floor the look and feel of wood, but, since it is actually a grass it is much more renewable, taking between 3-5 years to grow. It is a resilient material that comes in a wide range of colors and shades.
- Eco-friendly wood flooring is all about choosing the right wood, such as Brazilian Cherry or White Tigerwood, both of which are grown in South America and are harvested from replanted forests. Brazilian Cherry is a great duplicate of woods like ipe, since it grows much faster, whereas Tigerwood is a great alternative to oak, being harder and more resilient.
- Reclaimed tiles make a wonderful option for those looking for a vintage feel, with plain, ornate and terracotta tiles being widely available. All they will need is a quick clean before installation.
Take the opportunity to Have a Clear Out
Before starting work on a room, why not go through it and donate unwanted items? Giving away things like old clothes and toys is a great way to free up space and do some good too.
Lighting accounts for 15% of the average household’s electricity bill. For those looking to cut this down, there are some much more cost-effective solutions on the market, which just so happen to be better for the environment too. LEDs are the most energy-efficient bulbs and have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. They are available in a variety of brightness and color options meaning one will not feel they are suffering from choosing to make this switch.
Whether one has a big back yard or only the space for a little house plant, increasing the amount of greenery will make a home look better and help to suck up carbon dioxide.