6 sustainable home improvements for a greener home
When it comes to our collective environmental consciousness, it seems that the tide is turning. A commitment to eco-friendly practices is becoming increasingly widespread in our daily lives, but there are also simple changes we can make in our homes and interiors to achieve greener lifestyles. Not only are sustainable interior options now much easier to obtain, thanks to the increase in positive environmentalism, many are part of the latest interior trends.
Whether your home is crying out for some much needed TLC or you’ve recently bought a fixer-upper and can’t wait to get started, here are 6 ideas of how to approach a stylish home renovation without sacrificing your green ideals.
Hard and soft flooring
Durability and longevity are unarguably among the most qualities of any sustainable interior material. Longer lasting products require less sourcing, extraction, processing and transportation efforts, not to mention all the harmful by-products that often come with the manufacturing process. Natural, high-quality stone tiles from sustainable quarries are probably the most environmentally friendly choice, and they’re a versatile and stylish flooring option both inside and out.
And while we tend to think of rugs and carpets as mainly decorative items, don’t forget that they can double up as thermal insulators, retaining up to 10% of a room’s heat. It’s a great way to help make your home more energy-efficient and save money on your heating bills.
What’s more, they also work brilliantly as sound insulators, plus can trap dust particles from the air. Just make sure that you choose natural, organically produced fibres that are easy to clean without chemicals or dry cleaning, and vacuum your rugs and carpets on a regular basis.
Painting ceilings, walls and woodwork
Sometimes, all a room needs is a fresh lick of paint on walls and ceilings, doors, window frames and skirting boards. But what about the environmental impact? You may not be surprised to hear that many conventional paint products contain chemicals that are not only toxic when you breathe them in, but also harmful to the environment. Did you know that the US Environmental Protection Agency classifies paint as one of the top five most hazardous substances?
With your ‘green living’ hat firmly on your head, now is an excellent time to consider alternative options. You will find a growing number of eco-friendly paints in an array of trendy shades to choose from in the shops. These are produced from raw, natural, sustainable materials without the toxic load and its nasty side effects.
If you are planning to renovate your home, chances are that you have your eye on some new furniture to complete the new interior design scheme. This is all well and good, but ask yourself if you really need any new items? For the sake of the planet (and your wallet!), had you considered refurbishing and adapting existing pieces? Perhaps an old painted cupboard could be stripped back to beautiful bare wood, or vice versa, a tired wooden table could be given a new lease of life with a coat of paint.
If you must buy new, look to invest in furniture pieces that are made from recycled or reclaimed materials, and go for natural timber, metal or glass instead of highly processed man-made materials like MDF, synthetics and plastic. Using a more sustainable approach to furnishing your home prevents the need for extracting additional resources while providing a stylish interior décor that is uniquely yours.
Renewable heating solutions
If your heating system needs updating, don’t be tempted to buy another gas boiler without giving due consideration to renewable heating options first. Using renewables to heat your home gives you the opportunity to do your bit to save precious resources and protect the planet. Closer to home, you could also see a great return on your investment and lower heating bills as a result.
There are many options for domestic renewable heating systems including
- Solar PV – Solar panels on the roof convert the sun’s rays into electricity that can be used to power your home, while the excess is sold back to the grid.
- Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) – Generating green energy for your home by extracting heat from the ground in your garden.
- Biomass Boiler – Providing all the heating and hot water for your home by burning biomass fuel such as wood pellets or logs, which are carbon-neutral renewable energy sources.
It goes without saying that any new domestic appliances you choose to upgrade to will be more energy efficient than your old ones. This goes for washing machines as well as fridges and freezers, even dishwashers and tumbles driers if you really can’t do without them. If your home improvement budget is tight, why not go back to washing up by hand and drying your clothes ‘au naturel’ on the washing line outside? It will do wonders for cutting down your bills while reducing environmental damage in the process.
Now is also a great time to find out about water-saving devices you can install in your homes, such as aerated showerheads, dual flush toilets or simple water-saving kits for toilet cisterns. Many local water suppliers offer helpful advice and many even provide free devices to their customers.
Reducing landfill waste
Recycling should be one of the central pillars of your overall environmental efforts. Avoid throwing your old items into the skip and correctly dispose of them instead, ideally by recycling your materials. Recycle Now has a wealth of information about what items can be recycled and where to take them, and every local council has recycling facilities for everyone to use.
Better still, reuse what you can. Use your imagination to upcycle and repurpose old furniture, furnishings and DIY materials in your own home and garden, or donate them to a charitable organisation to prolong their usage and keep waste out of the landfill.