Easy ‘Green’ Home Improvement Ideas

Green building is the practice of increasing energy efficiency while promoting health for people and the environment. Effective green building can reduce operating costs through less energy consumption, improve occupant health and lessen the impact on the environment. An increasing number of people are realizing that it is our responsibility to pass along a healing planet to the next generation.

Green practices range from lifestyle choices to construction techniques.

Environmentally friendly home improvements are numerous and can be inexpensive or cost prohibitive. Putting a value on these improvements involves weighing the value added to your home, the cost of the improvement and the savings you will recoup, while considering environmental responsibility. Some of
these improvements will take years to pay off while others will have more immediate results.

The intent of this article is to note the most common improvements that will add immediate value to your home and reduce your energy costs. This list is not meant to be comprehensive. Some of these ideas are easy to perform yourself, while others are better left to professionals.  Keep in mind that there are tax credits available for many of these investments.

Economically feasible home improvements include:

  • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Replace windows and exterior doors to reduce air infiltration and solar heat gain. Look for ENERGY STAR® rated assemblies
  • Exterior caulking
  • Install a whole house fan
  • Install tubular type skylights in dark areas to gain natural light
  • Install window treatments that will block heat gain in the summer months
  • Replace old appliances with ENERGY STAR® rated appliances
  • Install attic insulation and seal attic access scuttles. Provide proper ventilation in attic spaces. Solar powered attic ventilators are available.
  • Install tank-less water heaters
  • Install low flow plumbing fixtures
  • Install pipe insulation on exposed hot water pipes
  • Install a programmable thermostat
  • Install high efficiency heating and cooling equipment with energy recovery and fresh air options.

There are many other improvements that can be done, including: photovoltaic power, geothermal heating and cooling and water reclamation systems. Some of those options can be very expensive, and would take many years to become cost effective. These typically require much more dedication to environmental responsibility on the part of the homeowner. Many of these improvements are better implemented within the framework of a major renovation project. It is important to consider Green improvements in the design phase of projects.

Considerations for planning Green Improvements:

  • Site planning
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Material use and waste management
    • Renewable materials without harmful ingredients
  • Water management
  • Energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions
    • Efficient building envelope
    • Efficient lighting systems and day-lighting
    • Efficient mechanical systems (ie.  ASHRAE90.1-2004)
    • Controls
    • Renewable Energy

I would be happy to meet with you to discuss any of these ideas and to survey your home to discuss appropriate options.  To schedule a time please send me a message.