If you've flicked through a home and garden magazine lately, then you'll know that ‘eco-friendly’ is the way forward. As effects of climate change become ever more acute, builders and home-owners alike have a responsibility to construct properties that will create the least amount of burden on the environment.
The good news about the widening net of ecological responsibility is that home-improvement and DIY markets now have plenty of products and materials to help you keep your environmental footprint as light as possible. With this in mind, we've compiled a list of the best home-improvement options to help you keep your home as eco friendly as possible.
1. Choose water-conserving bathroom fixtures Without a doubt, the bathroom is the room of the home that uses the most water and energy. Bathroom furnishings such as the shower, sink, bath, and toilet may seem as if they were designed to drain the earth of its resources. Thankfully, many high-quality bathroom brands have shouldered their responsibility of keeping the environment clean – having designed water-conserving fixtures that won't use more energy than absolutely necessary.
Examples of these fixtures include sensor-activated taps, eco-friendly toilet systems, and lower-volume shower heads. For outside the bathroom, consider tankless or on-demand water heaters. Try your best to purchase appliances for the laundry and kitchen – such as washing machines, tumblers, fridges, and heaters – that have good energy star ratings.
2. Build a multi-use structure Build multi-use structures that make economical use of space and energy. For example, you might repurpose shipping containers – an eco-friendly basic structure in itself – to hold tools, house micro-garden, or serve as a study room.
3. Use eco-friendly fabrics and treatments Environmental consciousness extends to even the smallest skirting-board of your home. This is where you should think about fabrics, treatments and paints. If you like to cover your furnishings, consider using sustainable linen or bamboo-threaded fabrics. Spend some time choosing sustainable window treatments which will keep in heat, such as shades, blinds, and thicker curtains. Lastly, choose non-toxic paints (look for the no-VOC label) and think twice about your flooring – bamboo or cork are great eco-friendly options.
4. Buy reclaimed When renovating, furnishing, or building a home, we tend to run straight to newly-manufactured materials, thinking that new products will lastly longer and look better. However, buying new isn’t always the best option: buying reclaimed base building materials or home decor will save you money and the environment a lot of woe.
Rustic-looking furniture is currently trendy, and second-hand furniture and materials often last just as long as their newly-produced equivalents. Keep an eye out for scrap-yard sales and local deals in your area – you never know when you might find a discarded item to turn into a treasure.
5. Be savvy with lighting and heating Many people spend more money on electricity than they intend. If you take advantage of natural light and invest in LED or energy-efficient light bulbs, you'll be on your way to saving a significant amount of money and energy per year. Double-glaze your windows for insulation while you're at it and think about your outer doors too. If they're snug within the frame and are made of multi-paned glass, they’ll retain the heat much more efficiently.
About the Author:
Johanna is a freelance writer from New Zealand who enjoys writing about travel, home, and lifestyle. She combines her passion for sustainable living and home designs by learning how to recycle more, working on green projects and exploring alternative housing solutions. See more of her work here.