The Remodeling Corner

Janet Cook

In April, Earth Day is commemorated—a time to consider how we can take better care of the environment for our benefit and for generations to come. How can we make an impact in our corner of the world? There is the concept of Green Remodeling: to design and build in ways that will help conserve energy, water, and resources while minimizing harmful emissions and waste. Here are five areas to be more eco-friendly with your home improvements.

Conserve Energy. Lowering utility bills is a great reward for investing in ways to decrease energy consumption. Creating a good barrier from the outdoors’ high temperatures can start with using trees to shade the home, as well as solar screens. The home itself needs sufficient insulation, especially in the attic (which degrades over time). Efficient, low-e, multi-pane windows in vinyl casing are also great insulators that will bring in natural daylight, as can skylights or solar tubes. Smart thermostats optimize your indoor comfort and can extend the life of your heat pump. Solar panels generate power, and solar hot water heater tanks can save 50% to 80% on heating water costs. Look for Energy Star-rated appliances to lower electrical use, as well as use LED lighting and dimmer switches.

Conserve Water. Choose WaterSense-certified appliances and fixtures. Low-flow toilets, faucets, and shower heads can reduce monthly water consumption by 30%. If your kitchen sink is far from the home’s source of hot water, there are under-the-sink instant tankless hot water heaters that will operate until the hot water is flowing through the pipe.

Eco-Friendly, Durable Materials. What good does a recycled glass countertop do if they ship the materials overseas to be processed and shipped back? Choose instead made in the USA-quality materials that will last a long time. Cabinet companies such as Dura Supreme are Environmental Stewardship Program certified for best practices.

Healthy Indoor Air Quality. Indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. It is important to specify no VOC paint, finishes, fabric materials, and adhesives. Good ventilation/air exchange is important in modern, airtight homes. There are whole house attic fans that can draw the nighttime cool fresh air through the house. Another strategy is indoor plants that will help absorb carbon gas and provide oxygen.

Recycle Materials. Donate reusable items such as appliances, vanity, cabinets, lighting fixtures, doors, and the like to Habitat for Humanity Restore to help those in need.

Finally, check for federal and/or state tax credits for making your home more efficient. For example, currently there is a 30% tax credit for solar products through 2032. There could be local or utility company rebates as well.

Happy Green Home Remodeling!

Janet Cook, Certified Health Coach and Aging in Place Specialist, President of Cook Remodeling (celebrating 45th years), invites you to check out their website for photos and more ideas.