By Emily Folk
One of the things you loved most about the house when you first saw it was its architectural charm — leaded pane windows, steep fairy-tale roof, cottage-paneled front door. But after living in it for a couple of years, you find yourself concerned with matters of efficiency and the rather large carbon footprint you appear to be setting down. Would environmental renovations make a difference?
Eco-friendly construction companies are popping up all over, utilizing green building science to erect structures from the ground up. Characterized by highly-efficient design and function, these modern buildings make responsible use of materials and resources.
What are the benefits of eco-friendly conversion in an already existing home? Is it worth the time, cost and relative inconvenience? Consider the following:
Any step you take to boost your home’s energy efficiency automatically supports environmental effort — as well as your checkbook.
Don’t want to lose the look of those sweet leaded windows? Consider Energy Star qualified interior window inserts. As the name indicates, these storm windows install on the inside of pre-existing sills to create double-pane protection and reinforce air-tight sealing.
What about your rustic front door? There’s a 10 percent tax rebate on Energy Star upgrades which come in a plethora of design styles, including cottage-paneled. And if you believe the unique pitch of your roof may not be well-suited for supplemental energy supply such as solar; you’ll be happy to know that the more crucial factor is the direction in which panels face.
One thing steep roofs are unequivocally perfect for is rainwater recycling. Because runoff is fast, sharp-angled roofs remain free of contamination. When recycled water is harvested into toilets and washing machines, it saves as much as 50 percent of household use. An in-house water filtration system renders rainwater safe to drink, as does boiling or distilling it.
As with energy efficiency, water conservation is further supported when your switch out appliances to Energy Star upgrades. Consider installing low flow shower heads and faucets, research dishwasher and laundry machine options.
Finally, look into your plumbing lines. Is there a way circulation paths can be shortened, especially for hot water delivery? Are your pipes exposed? Adding eco-friendly insulation not only prevents wasteful heat loss but protects against freezing, leaks and breakage.
Renovating with salvaged or recycled materials decreases the amount of waste that overflows landfills and helps preserve our planet’s limited resources. Why not add to your home’s original charm with simple enhancements like throwing natural-fibered woven rugs on bare flooring and changing out stark overhead lights with vintage chandeliers and recycled glass table lamps.
Your health and that of your family is of the utmost importance. Exposure to traditional paints and solvents with high volatile organic compound — VOC — content is associated with alarming health concerns such as respiratory difficulty, nausea, headaches and damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys. Eliminate hazardous risk in your home by renovating with eco-friendly products. Have you been thinking of adding bold wall color or refinishing a feature piece? Consider low or no VOC paints and stains.
Habitually damp or moist areas of the house are prime breeding grounds for mold, another dangerous health threat. Once mold spores enter a home, they spread quickly. If you are your family members experience marked symptoms of weakness, joint pain, shortness of breath and reduced memory look into safe mold clean-up methods and improve airflow by adding ventilation.
Even one single eco-friendly upgrade exhibits environmental responsibility. At a time when natural resources are diminishing at an alarming rate, going green is not just a personal choice, but one that affects our planet and its’ future viability.
Small-scale eco-friendly renovations offer the same benefits as green science construction. Rest assured that your mindful restoration effort holds considerable value.
Bio: Emily Folk
Emily is a sustainability writer and the editor of Conservation Folks. Follow Emily on Twitter.