Sustainable Home Improvements

Working sustainability into home improvement projects.

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Whether you are looking to sell your home or you just want to help the environment with smart choices, now is the time to look at maximizing the value of your dwelling with sustainable improvements. The word “sustainability” can be frightening to some people, but reducing your carbon footprint is easier than it sounds. There are many ways to improve your home, and you can start small and work up from there.

Every room in your house can be enhanced with a little bit of work and some smart decisions. Let’s discuss several different home improvement projects you can do right now without hiring a professional.

Start Small

You don’t have to do a full-scale remodel of your entire home to increase the sustainability of your property. Start small by changing out your old incandescent light bulbs for LEDs that not only last 75% longer, but they can also last up to 10,000 hours. The light bulbs will last even longer when you utilize the natural light provided by the sun by keeping shades open and turning on the lights less often.

Windows are the key to a sustainable home. If you can install more windows, go for it. Not only do windows make a home more attractive to buyers, but they can also save you on energy costs if installed correctly. You waste a lot of heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer if any cracks in the frames around the windows are not adequately sealed and fixed.

If your home was built long ago, this might also be an excellent time to inspect the insulation installed in your walls. When you have enough insulation in the walls of all your rooms, less heat and energy are released into the environment, and your home will stay warmer in the summer. A lot of old insulation is made with fiberglass, which can lead to respiratory issues, so look to green options like polyurethane foam and icynene.

Project Tips

Before going into individual projects, here are some tips on how to complete your projects that are also sustainable and environmentally friendly. First, consider purchasing the materials that you need from local retailers, so you can drive and pick them up, rather than ordering parts from across the country. The shipment and transport of these items requires a lot of unnecessary manpower and pollution from trucks and planes. This also supports small businesses rather than big-box retailers.

When you plan your projects, “measure twice, cut once” really does apply. Avoid wasted materials, if at all possible, by measuring as many of the pieces you need before cutting. Mistakes can happen, and if you do have extra materials later on, try to use them again on a new project, so you create less waste.

Also, keep in mind that little fixes can make a big difference in an individual room. For the bathroom, you may be wasting water because you have a leaky pipe under the sink. Instead of bringing in a plumber, and wasting time and resources, check and fix these issues yourself. Functional plumbing is a big plus when it comes to the value of your home. While you are in the bathroom, install a low-flow showerhead that uses less water but is still as productive as a standard one.

This is also a perfect time to invest in appliances that have the Energy Star label, including your washing machine and water heater, which use considerably fewer resources than standard models.

Improving Individual Spaces

There is bound to be a sustainable upgrade that you can make to any portion of your home. Start outside by beautifying your front yard with green, luscious trees and plants. Having an attractive yard adds to your curb appeal and can improve the value of your home. Some plants like marigolds and chrysanthemums can also deter unwanted pests away from the property — another great selling point.

In the kitchen, you can also add a low-flow aerator to your sink that can save you almost 700 gallons of water every year and $48 dollars off of your monthly water bill. If you are painting your kitchen or any other room, use a paint that is eco-friendly. The key to these paints is that they are low- or zero-VOC, which means that they have minimum traces of dangerous chemicals, like fungicides and formaldehyde, which are harmful to humans.

It can be easy to forget about improving the garage, but this is an area where sustainability is key, so you don’t release heat or cool air from the home. Make sure the walls are properly insulated there as well and check your garage door. It should close flush with the floor. Also, check the perimeter for any cracks. You might also consider installing windows in the garage. In addition to adding appeal to the home, they will reduce the need to turn on lights when it is dark, and the natural light will help to heat the garage in the winter. A well-lit garage is a nice perk that not many homes have.

There is never a bad time to enhance your home for ultimate sustainability. Try some of the projects above and bring the value of your home to the next level.

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