Guide to Green Home Improvement

More and more homeowners are making the move towards improving their homes’ environmental friendliness. Although some of this movement is thanks to increased eco-consciousness and stewardship, many homeowners have joined the movement because it helps them to save money on energy costs and avoid putting toxins into their home. Whatever your reasons are for going green, there are several easy ways to improve your home while also improving its environmental friendliness.

Plantation Shutters

Adding shutters inside your home is a timeless and beautiful way to reduce your energy consumption and carbon footprint. Plantation shutters are custom fitted to your windows, so they are able to insulate your home better than other window coverings. This added layer of insulation helps to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter without using any additional energy.

In addition to lowering your energy usage for climate control, plantation shutters are able to reduce your dependence on indoor lighting during the day. Simply open the shutters or their louvers to allow natural light to flood your home. By using natural lighting, you will be able to reduce the number of light bulbs you use, as well as reduce your energy consumption.

VOC Free Paint

Paint is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your home, but it can also come with a nasty host of chemicals. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are toxins that are emitted by traditional paints. These toxins release into the air and your cleaning solutions, polluting your home and the nearby environment. Instead of filling your home with toxins from traditional paint, ask your local home improvement store about VOC free paints. These paints contain none of the toxic VOCs associated with traditional paint, which means they’re better for you and for the environment.

Upgrade to LED

Although many homeowners have embraced longer-lasting CFL bulbs, these bulbs still present several problems for the environmentally conscious. They contain toxic mercury and require special disposal to avoid having that mercury pollute the environment. In contrast, LED bulbs are able to last twice or even three times as long, use less energy, and do not contain mercury. Upgrading your lighting to LED bulbs can be a large initial investment, but you will regain that investment over time through reduced energy costs and not having to replace bulbs as often.

These steps are some of the easiest ways to start to improve your home’s energy usage while also making it a more enjoyable place to live.

Three Green Home Improvements You Can Make Today

Making your home more eco-friendly can be easier than you think. If you though that in order to have an eco-friendly home you’d need to re-build from the ground up, you’ll be happy to know that there are several simple changes that you can make in your home that will save you money, make your home more “green” and increase the resell value of your home. These days having an eco-friendly home can be a great selling point.

One of the first improvements you can make is with eco-friendly paint. Painting is one of the easiest home improvements you can do. Today, there is a wide choice of eco-friendly paints that have low VOC levels. These paints don’t have the harsh chemicals that can harm the environment. The three basic types of eco-friendly paints are milk based, clay based and recycled latex. These paints can be used on a variety of different surfaces.

Milk based paints are completely natural, but they need to be mixed with water in order to be used. It’s the most expensive option and it remains porous after drying. Clay based paints are very durable and are great for faux finishes. Of all three eco-friendly paints, recycled latex is the most prominent since it can be purchased at most major home improvement stores. It has the most colors available and doesn’t require natural wax to prevent stains like the other options do.

You can also go eco-friendly with your flooring. Natural flooring materials have a beautiful finish and they have low environmental impact. The most common types of eco-friendly flooring are cork and bamboo. Cork is durable and very comfortable to walk on. It is used with non-toxic adhesives and comes in many different colors. Bamboo flooring is also another eco-friendly option. It is very similar to traditional wood flooring in its look. What makes it eco-friendly is that bamboo grows much more quickly than traditional hardwood floors.

If you have the budget for a large eco-friendly home improvement project, you can replace your regular roofing with a more eco-friendly roof. Solar roof systems are the most well known of the eco-friendly options. These roof systems take the light from the sun and convert it into energy that can be used inside of the home. Although these roofs are not made from recyclable materials, the energy savings make them eco-friendly. A solar roofing system will last for approximately 30 years.

Another option is reflective roofing. This option involves covering your roof with a white colored fluid that is applied with a paint roller. This roofing reflects the suns rays and helps reduce energy bills inside the home, especially during the summer. It reduces ultraviolet deterioration of the roof. Roofs made from recycled metal are also a very energy efficient and eco-friendly option. Metal roofs can reflect up to 35% of the suns’ rays. As an added bonus, metal roofs are resistant to both fire and pests.

Any of these eco-friendly options will make a great addition to your home, whether you are planning on living there for decades or will be moving in a few years.

Get Rebates for Home Improvement

In Australia, no good deed goes unrewarded, particularly good deeds related to environmentally friendly home improvement.

The Australian government, in order to promote greener homes, offers rebates that help residents offset the cost of making improvements to their homes that increase their energy efficiency, make better use of water resources or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other things. Rebates may vary from state to state and by municipality throughout Australia.

Here’s a few of the home improvement projects that may be eligible for a government rebate:

  • The Solar Homes and Communities Plan provides rebates for certain households with incomes less than $100,000 per year to install solar panels for home energy. The subsidy comes nowhere near the cost of installing the panels, but can help folks save a little on the cost of undertaking this project
  • Insulation rebates provide an added financial incentive for improving your home by installing more insulation. Insulation can help reduce power bills by keeping heat and cold out, thus lowering your energy use for climate control within your home. An estimated 2.5 million homes in Australia are under-insulated, and while the Commonwealth Government insulation scheme no longer applies, various state benefits may.
  • Rainwater recycling rebates are available for residents who install equipment that allows them to capture, treat and use rainwater. Rebates vary from area to area in Australia. For example, in Western Australia, homeowners can get a rebate of up to $600 or half the cost of a rainwater tank that’s 2,000 litres or more. In Queensland, the Home Water Wise Rebate Scheme provides rebates of up to $1,000 for the cost of purchasing rainwater tanks, pumps and diverters and having them installed.
  • Energy audits can be obtained for $30 in the Australian Capital Territory. The fee pays for a professional to come to your home and make suggestions on how it can be made more energy efficient. Homeowners who take up one of the professional’s suggestions can receive up to a $500 rebate for work done in a related improvement that costs at least $2,000. The homeowner must let the State government monitor their power bills for one year after the improvement to see how much more effective the home improvement measures have proven to be.

While these government rebates won’t cover the whole cost of greening your home, they will make green home improvement more attractive to homeowners.