There are many ways to lead a greener lifestyle, but if you want to truly minimize your carbon footprint and help the environment, you should definitely start with your home. Of course, with so many rooms for improvement when it comes to a greener living space, you don’t have to tackle all of the projects at once. But, it’s rather important to be aware of them, so that you can start making a positive change.
Words: Amelia Atkins
Walls and floors
Paint can contain toxic materials so if you want to make a good and simple start with your green home renovations, definitely opt for a fresh look with low or zero VOC paint. A bit more challenging project, however, involves the flooring. It’s important to go for green and durable materials. The most suitable materials include natural stone, ceramics, cork and reclaimed wood. Natural linoleum is another option, as well.
Old lead and copper pipes can contaminate the water, so these materials are not suitable for the drains inside your home. However, they have fallen into disuse in favor of another possibly worse material, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic that emits toxic compounds both in its production as well as its use and disposal. If you have to change any PVC installations, you can opt for stainless steel pipes, polyethylene or polypropylene. The ecological plumbing is completed with water saving systems in the taps and the toilet cistern, which should have a controlled discharge.
PVC electrical cables, as well as installation ducts (corrugated pipes), plugs and switches, can also be replaced by alternatives that are less damaging from the environmental point of view. In terms of lighting, the cheapest and least harmful option is LED lights. To reduce the consumption of electricity and eliminate electromagnetic fields, an electrical controller can be installed in each room. It automatically cuts the supply when no appliance is working. As far as household appliances are concerned, those labeled as energy-efficient consume less electricity and water, so look for Energy Star-rated ones. You can literally do this for every appliance in your home, even the tools you use in your garage such as an efficient measuring stop and similar useful technologies.
There are several different ways that can green up your heating needs. The best possible option definitely involves underfloor heating and radiant wall panels. Another option is to use solar energy. However, these are fairly expensive and require time for installation. A cheaper option involves proper walls, windows and doors insulation so that you trap the heat better and need to use the heater less. The same goes for cool air in the summer.
If the house has been isolated with panels that don’t really allow the walls to breathe, it’s necessary to facilitate the air circulation with extractors in the kitchen and bathroom. Also, keep HEPA filters in mind for your air conditioner. If you want a quick solution for a better air quality inside your home that won’t require any electricity waste, simply enrich your space with some green plants.
As mentioned, take this renovation process slowly but surely. After all, some projects do require more investment, effort and time on your part. But, the best thing about these kinds of investments is that they pay off quite obviously in the long run.