Congratulations! You just purchased a new house and now you are ready to do some DIY to make it the perfect home. There are so many options available to a new home owner when it comes to projects that will give them the biggest bang for their buck. While most people consider kitchens and bathrooms a high priority on the home project check list, there are some great eco-friendly options that you can start with that will not only help resale value but will save you money as a home owner.
Incorporating green home improvement projects is easy if you start thinking eco-conscious from the beginning. Think about the types of materials that you will be using and opt for low VOC paints, low emitting floor adhesives, repurposed or recycled flooring or countertop materials, and high efficiency appliances. You can take it a step further – if you are going to be removing walls why not add a fresh air intake system. Planning ahead means that you incorporate these green features into the home so that your property will be eco-friendly from the inside out.
When it comes to saving energy, the steps that you can take to make a small but significant change are almost endless. Tankless water heaters are affordable and save the average home about 30% more energy than a conventional hot water heater. High efficiency or Energy Star appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, and even ceiling fans can qualify for government incentives. A great investment for home owners who want to make a big impact to their energy bill is new windows. Energy efficient windows will reduce air leakages and double panes will ensure that warm air stays in in the winter and cool air stays in in the summer.
Repurposed and renewable materials like flooring have become very mainstream. Home owners can find a wide range of eco-friendly flooring options like bamboo, cork, polished concrete, glass tiles, and even wool carpeting available. The materials don’t just stop at floors. Countertops can be incredibly expensive so if you have the options of using something that comes from recycled material and saves you money, why not take advantage of them. There are options for those that like look of wood, like Durapalm, Windfall Lumber, Teragren, or EcoTop. For those that like stone countertops, you can go with Squak Mountain Stone, BottleStone, and Vetrazzo. Even classic options like quartz are more economical and longer lasting than granite. As quartz is harder and non-porous, it doesn’t require resealing as granite does and is virtually indestructible.
If you aren’t ready to take on the task of a complete green overhaul, there are some basic changes you can do to your home that will make a big impact. Start by adding a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature when no one is home. Replace your light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs. Get some great weather stripping around doors to prevent heating and cooling loss. Replace your faucets with water saving fixtures. They don’t cut the water flow but aerate the water more to necessitate less use. You can try native plants with drip water irrigation outdoors. For those that like to garden, a lot of water can be wasted in the warm months with non-native plants drinking up all the water.
Even if you start small, eco-friendly changes will save you money and help to increase the value of your home in the future. If you would like to learn more about green building, visit the U.S. Green Building Council site to read about Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification (LEED) and how to achieve it.