The 8 Most Important Green Improvements You Can Make to Your Home

North American Home, house

Source: iStock

Earth Day gives us a friendly reminder that there is always more we can do to ensure a safer and healthier environment for years to come. Fortunately, when it comes to home remodeling, green is the new black. Despite the endless positives it brings, many are confused as to how to make their homes green. Therefore, we found eight important green improvements anyone can make to their homes.

1. Energy-Efficient Products

First and foremost, the easiest way to go green is by purchasing or choosing energy-efficient products. While the upfront costs tend to be more expensive than their alternatives, they almost always save you money in the long run. Therefore, when debating between energy-efficient windows and the standard windows so many of us own, go with the green option.

Whether it’s the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, deck, or any other room in the house, there are always energy-efficient decisions one can make.

Hallway, Window

Source: iStock

2. Green Windows

Choosing to go green is one thing, but following up is another. When it comes to finding the right energy-efficient windows, there are four steps all green homeowners need to take.

  1. Look for the Energy Star label and rating
  2. Frame your windows right
  3. Understand different types of window glazing
  4. Choose window styles based on how it operates

Nevertheless, no matter how green your decisions may be, improper installation can result in energy loss or water leakage. That’s why it’s a good idea to check out the average window installation cost near you.

3. Green Cabinets

Moving inside the most popular room to remodel, the kitchen is a prime spot to go green. A prominent starting point is the cabinets. Contrary to popular demand, there are many substances and materials involved in cabinet production that decreases sustainability in your home’s air quality. For those eco-friendly homeowners, one could install:

  • Bamboo and biocomposite boards
  • Lyptus
  • Reclaimed or salvaged wood
  • Solid wood
  • Stock cabinetry

Water-based finishes have become the best option as demand for eco-friendly alternatives have increased. Homeowners can also look for certifications from Green Seal or GreenGuard to know whether a product has low or high VOC emissions.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

4. Green Plumbing

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to go green is through your plumbing. Not only will green plumbing lower utility costs in the long run, but it will certainly make your home and the environment healthier. Needless to say, a home’s plumbing covers a wide range of categories, from the drainage and pipes to the water heater, toilets, and sewer main. For specific projects, one can:

  • Insulate the pipes
  • Install a new hot water heater
  • Install an on-demand hot water circulation pump
  • Install a whole house water filtration system
  • Install low-flush toilets
  • Install faucet flow reducer

5. Green Flooring

A key aspect of the home is your flooring. After all, we need somewhere to walk so most homes require a lot of flooring. As such, choosing to go with green flooring can mean a lot, both for your home and the environment.

Nowadays, many homeowners are choosing hardwood floors. If you want to go with green hardwood flooring, the smart bet is engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood requires much less wood than standard hardwoods. Additionally, the trees for engineered floors grow much faster than those for solid hardwoods. Finally, engineered is cheaper than real hardwood.

Of course, if you really wanted to go the eco-friendly route, you could install flooring made from sustainably harvested, recycled, or reclaimed sources.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

6. Green Insulation

There are few aspects of your home that have a bigger impact on your energy usage than your insulation. Proper insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It ensures all that necessary heat you are paying for stays within the home as opposed to slipping through the walls or windows.

Cotton insulation your green solution. Not only is cotton insulation made from renewable and recycled resources, but it presents far fewer health hazards compared to the more prevalent fiberglass insulation. Since cotton insulation is literally made of old denim, it’s perfectly safe to handle, touch, and install in your home by yourself. Unlike fiberglass or mineral wool insulation, cotton insulation releases no fibers into the air and has a boric acid solution attached to it, providing an extra blanket of security in case of a fire.

7. Green Siding

Moving outside the home, environmentally friendly siding options are entering their adolescent years, which means homeowners are starting to take notice and choosing a greener selection.

With green siding, fiber-cement is one of the most durable options out there. Fiber-cement siding, made from a mix of cement, sand, and cellulose fibers, is water-resistant, virtually fireproof, insect proof, inhibits fungal growth, and usually comes with a very long warranty. By eliminating the need to reside your house and taking advantage of insurance breaks offered to fiber-cement homes in fire-prone areas, you will save a lot, offsetting the higher installation cost.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

8. Green Decking

Staying outside the home, as spring rounds into shape, many homeowners look to upgrade or build new decks. While hardwood is of course the popular choice, the eco-friendly option is Trex decking.

Besides being green, Trex decking:

  • Weighs as much as 50 to 70 percent more than lumber of the same dimensions, making Trex a very solid material
  • Stays cooler than wood of the same color on a hot day
  • Can be cut, routed and grooved just like wood boards
  • Can be cut into uniquely curved deck designs

Bear in mind, like a few other green options, Trex decking is a bit more expensive to install than a standard wood deck.

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