Green Home Improvements: A Beginner's Guide
The green movement also includes tackling various green home improvement projects to increase the efficiency and environmental impact of your home.
This post was originally published February 22, 2013 and has been updated with additional content, resources, and images.
So you’re new to the “Green” movement?
Well, if you’ve ever turned off a light when you left a room, opted for reusable instead of paper plates, or driven slower on the highway to get better gas mileage, then you’ve engaged in green initiatives and contributed to the sustainability of the Earth.
There’s a lot more you can do to be even more green, including tackling various green home remodeling projects that are good for both the planet and your pocketbook!
Let’s start with some modern green techniques that homeowners are using all across Southern California.
New Green Techniques
You’ll notice in this section that most of these techniques don’t take a ton of effort, and they don’t radically change the way your home looks. They’re simple, effective ways to become more energy efficient.
Insulated Windows and Doors
Imagine your home’s doors and windows as a car tire with a slow leak. You don’t notice day to day how much energy you’re losing, but slowly and surely that warm & cool air is escaping. When you run the air conditioning or heater, you’re using valuable energy to do so. If your windows or doors aren’t sealed correctly, you are letting some of that precious energy (and cash) flow right out of your home. Investing in energy efficient windows and doors can have a major impact on making your home more green.
Low-flow Faucets and High-efficiency Toilets:
We’re all culprits of excessive water use; perhaps it’s the fault of the faucets we use. Bathroom and kitchen sink faucets can account for around 19% of the average household’s water usage. Replacing old faucets with low-flow ones could save up to 40% of water used by your sink faucets.
Replacing old toilets with high-efficiency and/or low-flow models can have an even larger impact on your water usage & savings. While older toilets use between 3.5 - 7 gallons of water per flush, high-efficiency toilets only use ~1.3 gallons per flush.
The combined monthly water bill savings from installing water-wise plumbing components will more than offset the cost of replacing your old faucets and toilets.
Your roof is a major source of energy, both incoming and outgoing. On the outside, you can install a radiant barrier to reflect heat in the summer, reducing the amount you have to run the AC. Or, use that space for solar panels and harvest your own energy from the sun. On the inside, use recycled cotton or wool insulation, or advanced fiberglass products. These help to keep temperatures level and comfortable and prevent unwanted energy loss.
What Happens to My Current Windows, Faucets and Other Junk?
When you upgrade to greener materials in your home, a major concern is what happens to the stuff you’re getting rid of. There are entire companies whose main purpose is to reduce these materials to their basic components: faucets are essentially steel or brass, windows are glass and plastic, etc.
These individual materials can be recycled and used in other ways by construction companies and design-build contractors like Murray Lampert. When you decide to go green and update your home’s systems, you’re not only helping to lower your monthly utility bills, but you’re potentially making products cheaper for other homeowners as well.
Remember, just because you’re doing all this for the environment, it doesn’t mean you need to stop turning off lights or being more economical about recycling. But it does give you cause to brag to your friends.