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Blog category: Right at Home

10 Ideas for Eco-Friendly House Renovations

5 min read

There are many ways and reasons to renovate a home. Some newlyweds dream of converting an old barn into a home in which to raise a family, and others have raised their kids and now want to update and modernize the family home. Meanwhile, some people have houses with damage due to a natural disaster or inclement weather.

When it’s time to remodel or repair your home on a large or small scale, there are tips and tricks to make renovations go smoothly. And there are also ways to remake your house so it’s a more green, sustainable home. Let’s investigate ten ways to renovate for a more eco-friendly house.

1. Invest in Reclaimed Wood

Social media is alight with extraordinary examples of reclaimed barn wood used for flooring or resurfacing cabinets in eco-friendly houses. The natural weathering and character of the wood are very appealing and can coordinate with any decorating style. Even if you enjoy a clean, contemporary aesthetic, the contrast of the warm, worn wood brings out the best in your new appliances, minimalist furniture and clean, open floor plan. Perfect for eco renovation, reclaimed wood may come from timbers rescued from old fences, barns, factories, restaurants and more. Rather than consigning the salvaged timber to a dumpsite, it is given new life as flooring, shelving, beams, backsplashes, mantle pieces, doors and gates.

2. Turn to Bamboo

If you love wood flooring but cannot find reclaimed wood, consider bamboo for your eco-friendly home remodeling. Rather than destroying a plant that has grown for decades, bamboo harvesting cuts back fast-growing plants. As a result, the bamboo continues to grow and thrive, cleaning the air, producing oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide. Bamboo is durable, water-resistant, hardwearing and much less expensive than hardwood flooring. Bamboo is also an excellent choice for a sustainable home's cabinets, doors and furniture.

3. Salvage and Reimagine Instead of Demolishing

Some people have a genuine knack for seeing the possibilities in what others view as trash. They take discarded chandeliers to create memorable hanging planters or turn busted wooden chairs into chic towel racks.

Before tearing out the parts of your home you plan to do away with in your eco renovation, take stock of what you have and try to imagine a fun, new way to use it in another room. Consider everything you want to get rid of or replace and see how it might be used in another spot. Take a look at old lighting fixtures, flooring, faucets, tiles, cabinets, bricks, sinks, furniture and more. The goal is to save space in the landfills and bypass the damaging effects of manufacturing new when the old can be serviceable in new ways.

4. When in Doubt — Donate

If you cannot find a way to reuse what you have in your eco-home remodeling, donate your old stuff so someone else can make use of it. Consider giving it to an architectural salvage yard or Habitat for Humanity. Reimagining and reusing existing stuff, rather than discarding and making new, is an essential part of eco-renovation, even if you’re not the one to reuse it.

5. Consider Buying Pre-Owned

Reusing cabinets, furniture and appliances isn’t restricted to your own stuff. Consider the resale market when you are shopping for your eco-friendly house. Sometimes a small scratch in an inconspicuous spot is the only reason an oven cannot be sold as “new.” Or a restaurant goes out of business, leaving top-of-the-line appliances with just six months of wear on them. You could save thousands of dollars, thereby stretching your budget and saving useful appliances and furniture from taking up space in a dump site.

6. Don’t Replace — Reface

A big goal for most people when starting eco-friendly home remodeling is tearing out the tired old cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom. Many dream of replacing the old cabinetry with something more attractive. However, often the cabinets are in fine condition, and only the look is outdated and worn. In this case, consider refacing the existing cupboards rather than completely replacing them. New doors and drawer faces (reclaimed wood, anyone?) can give tired-looking cabinets a whole new life.

7. Use VOC-free Paint

Most paint is made using Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. VOCs are harmful, contain carbon and create damaging vapors at room temperatures. Low-VOC paint restricts the VOC content to a small fraction, while no-VOC options are entirely free of these chemicals. Benjamin Moore’s Natura paint line and Sherwin Williams’ Harmony are both VOC-free options, as is Behr Pro i300. There are smaller paint lines, too, that offer zero-VOC paint for your eco-friendly house.

8. Let the Sun Shine

Taking advantage of the available sunshine is essential to eco-friendly home remodeling. For example, using large, double-paned windows and skylights effectively uses natural light, easing your reliance on electricity. And adding solar panels to your roof enables you to capture and produce a significant portion of the energy your home needs to run. Check out our guide to going solar.

9. Go Low-Flow

The EPA estimates that nearly 30% of the average home’s water use goes down the toilet. Literally. Changing out your plumbing system for low-flow devices is a priority for any eco renovation. Some fixtures offer a dual flush system, with one flush used for liquid waste and another for solid. Conserving water is still important, even if rainfall is plentiful in your immediate environment.

10. Upgrade Your Home’s Insulation

Eco-friendly home remodeling can take advantage of technological advancements, including insulation. Investing in quality insulation protects your home from the elements, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter. In addition to lowering your reliance on the utilities, insulation can block unpleasant sounds, improving your relationship with the neighbors.

Your home is likely the most valuable of all your possessions. Consider renovating to make it an eco-friendly house, and take a moment to review your homeowner's insurance coverage with a Wawanesa associate to protect your investment.

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