Green Remodeling: Saving Money and Creating a Healthy Home
When planning a renovation of your kitchen, bathrooms, or adding additional living space to the home, talk to a professional contractor about creating a house that is more efficient and safer to live in. The benefits of green remodeling include saving money through greater efficiency, improving indoor air and water quality and reducing the negative impact on the environment.
Energy efficiency is the top reason why homeowners choose green remodeling, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers. Homeowners save money on utility bills when the home is more energy efficient. This is an attractive feature to home buyers, so creating an energy efficient home also adds to its market value. A certified contractor can conduct an energy evaluation of the home and suggest changes that can be made through professional remodeling or even simple changes, like using newer energy-saving lights or installing a programmable thermostat.
Some ways you can improve energy efficiency:
• Hire a professional contractor to replace drafty, old windows with energy-efficient dual paned windows and replace aluminum siding with newer vinyl siding.
• Properly insulating an attic will yield the biggest cost savings-your home will retain heat better during the winter and stay cooler during the summer. There are many insulation options, depending where it’s used, including fiberglass, spray foam, rigid foam board and cellulose. R-values measure the performance of the insulation, so generally the higher the R-value, the better the insulation level.
• Look for the Energy Star symbol when buying new appliances for a kitchen remodel or when replacing a water heater or clothing dryer, Energy Star is a government-backed program and the symbol represents energy efficiency, helping consumers find appliances and other products that provide cost savings through lower energy and water consumption.
• How old is your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system? Systems older than 10 years are not as efficient as newer models. When considering a new system, choose the most efficient model that will efficiently support the size of the home, especially if remodeling includes additional living space.
Other cost-saving measures include installing a programmable thermostat, having the system professionally checked and cleaned annually, and sealing and insulating the ductwork.
IMPROVING INDOOR QUALITY OF LIFE
A 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found people diagnosed with asthma increased by 4.3 million between 2001 and 2009-that’s 1 in 12 Americans. Although reasons for the increase are not fully known, environmental factors including indoor air quality is an asthma trigger. Even more people deal with allergies from pollen, animal dander and molds.
You can create a healthier place to live by improving indoor air quality, water quality and reducing noise pollution. Ultimately, a healthier home also saves money by lowering medical costs.
• Choose non-toxic building materials, paints and cleaning products. Many of these household products emit toxic gas containing VOCs (volatile organic compounds) creating poor indoor air quality. Side effects range from symptoms like fatigue, headaches, nausea and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat to respiratory diseases like asthmas and bronchitis to more serious problems such as kidney or liver damage or cancer.
• Remove mold, pollen, animal dander, dust mites and dirt by installing a more efficient ventilation system with high-quality air filters.
• Test the water system to determine if a water filtration system is needed to remove impurities.
CONSERVING RESOURCES: Reduce, Recycle, Renew
We are reminded of the importance of a clean environment every day from advertisements about hybrid and electric cars to neighborhood recycling programs. So consider a trash container filled with debris during a remodeling project-that’s a lot of waste. One goal of green remodeling is reducing the amount of waste that enters a landfill by either reusing or recycling the materials. Materials removed from the property in good condition can be donated to an organization such as Habitat for Humanity.
When demolition is complete and it’s time to start remodeling, choose natural, more durable materials like cork flooring or natural fiber carpets with no toxic chemicals.
• Cork is a sustainable material, as flooring it reduces noise pollution in the home and is a healthy option for those who suffer from allergies.
• Install low-flow toilets and shower heads which use less water than standard plumbing fixtures.
• Are the old plumbing fixtures leaking? Replacing leaky faucets could save thousands of gallons of water in a year.
• Consider renewable energy sources such as solar power by adding photovoltaic panels to your roof or yard. You can even consider new photovoltaic shingles when it’s time for a new roof.
Green remodeling can range from larger projects like a kitchen renovation or newer windows and siding that require a professional contractor – to smaller changes a homeowner can easily make such as using non-toxic paints and cleaning products. Saving money, improving indoor air and water quality, and reducing waste are all benefits of green remodeling. Creating a home that features these benefits can also add value because of the increased demand for green homes.
Talking to a professional contractor about how you can incorporate green concepts into your remodeling projects to save money and stay healthy is a WIN-WIN!