Your home is a source of pride, as well as your family’s nest. When it comes to maintaining or remodeling your home, you have a seemingly endless array of options at your disposal. Some materials and renovation plans, however, are more eco-friendly than others.
You may be looking for the most eco-friendly materials to increase your home’s overall value, or to reduce your carbon footprint. No matter the reason, it’s easy to be environmentally conscious while sticking to your maintenance and repair budget. Here’s how.
Consider the Benefits of Bamboo
One of the biggest trends in sustainable flooring is bamboo. Bamboo is much more eco-friendly than hardwood for several reasons. First, it only takes bamboo less than five years to regenerate to its full height, compared to 20-30 years for many types of hardwood trees, such as pine and maple. It also tends to be harvested with mindfulness.
When choosing bamboo flooring, you have a host of options. Planks are available in a variety of sizes, and both horizontal and vertical rows give off a modern, polished look. Further, bamboo floors are easy to clean and can be stained to match any decor scheme.
Bamboo is also an attractive option when it comes to window coverings. You can replace your old, tired, and broken blinds with bamboo blinds, also available in both vertical and horizontal versions. Use your window shades as an exciting, simple decor option, or as a means of passive solar to help keep your home warm without using too much energy.
Saving Energy Around the Home
Speaking of energy savings, energy efficiency should be at the forefront of your mind during any renovation project. Whether you’re considering doing away with old, less-efficient appliances like your dryer for a more eco-friendly approach like air-drying clothing, or you’re concerned about the efficiency of your windows, doors, and your home’s roof, the possibilities for change and improvement are endless.
In particular, windows are so integral to the temperatures in your home, in fact, that some energy professionals refer to windows as the “gateway to savings.” Leaky windows are responsible for between 10-25 percent of your heating bill. If your windows are leaking, there’s an easy fix: you can caulk or weather-strip your windows to prevent leaks.
If you opt to replace your windows altogether, look for windows with an Energy Star rating, and ensure that they’re installed properly. The same goes for new doors. And with Energy Star-rated doors and windows, you’ll save money on your heating bill, and you may qualify for tax rebates as well.
When choosing materials for your doors and windows, however, don’t just rely on the Energy Star label. Do your research to find the material that will work best for your home. In some cases, your neighborhood association may require the use of particular materials and colors. Or, if you live in an older home, you may need to adhere to the requirements of a historical society, such as the Vieux Carre Commission in New Orleans. For example, the VCC only allows certain paint colors, and properties must meet specific remodeling guidelines that are meant to help preserve the authenticity of the neighborhood’s historic buildings.
The primary material choices for windows and doors are wood, PVC, and aluminum, and they all have advantages and disadvantages. Wood is natural, and you can find doors and windows that are sourced in an eco-friendly manner. Wood is more difficult to maintain than PVC or aluminum, however. PVC requires the least maintenance, but it’s made up of chemicals and additives that are toxic to the environment. Aluminum bridges the gap between the two: It’s recyclable, environmentally friendly, and easy to maintain.
Eco-friendly Maintenance Tips
Renovating and maintaining your home isn’t just about ensuring that your window and doors don’t leak; there are many factors to consider when you’re doing maintenance on your home in an eco-friendly manner. For example, the go-to for most homeowners when unclogging a drain is to use powerful chemicals, poured directly into the water system.
Unfortunately, those chemicals could end up in lakes or rivers, depending on where you live. In addition, a common ingredient in drain cleaners is sodium hydroxide, which can lead to pipe corrosion. But there is good news. It’s easy and inexpensive to unclog a drain without the use of harsh chemicals.
Before turning to harsh chemicals, start by trying to fish out the gunk that’s clogging your drain. This is a dirty job, but necessary to stop a clog. You may need to remove some of the piping under the sink to find the source of the clog. This can usually be done by simply using a wrench and removing the clogged pipe. If you’re wary of removing pieces of piping, you can opt to reach the drain from the top, using a long wire or bent metal coat hanger.
Another way to unclog your drain is by using a plunging method, similar to the technique used on clogged toilets. Remove the drain cover, fill the sink or basin with 3-4 inches of water and plunge away. And if neither of those techniques work, you can turn to a plumber, who may have another eco-friendly trick up his or her sleeve.
The use of eco-friendly materials in home maintenance and repair is a trend that’s here to stay. You can jump on the bandwagon and reap the energy and cost savings that come with investing in eco-friendly materials. You can even go one step further and practice eco-friendly maintenance techniques. Your home will be healthier, and you can feel good knowing that you’re doing your part to reduce your family’s carbon footprint.
SmartReno can help you find the right contractor for your Interior renovation project