Go green for spring with these tips for an eco-friendly home
Using sustainable materials and energy-saving appliances will save you money in the long run
Today sustainability is a key consideration for home improvement. Eco-friendly design is good not only for the planet but for your property value. Anything that cuts energy and water use will pay for itself over time. Here are some tips that will enhance your home, save you money and aid the environment.
Reusing furniture and other elements is inherently green. And it’s often cheaper to refinish or refurbish appealing old things, which often have distinctive character.
In the kitchen, for example, you can paint or stain old cabinets or replace only the cabinet doors — the money saved could help pay for stylish new energy-efficient appliances that will in turn save you even more money in the long run. Try to use paint with low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which keeps harmful chemicals out of the environment (and your lungs).
The Energy Star rating rocks! You’ll find it on lab-tested appliances, air conditioners, furnaces, windows and other home essentials. High-efficiency kitchen and laundry appliances save not only energy, but water and even detergent (today’s more efficient dishwashers and washers require less of it). These eco-savvy upgrades may even earn you utility rebates that will (along with lower power bills) help pay for them.
Speaking of utility bills, adding insulation lowers them and boosts your home’s value when you sell it. Any type makes a difference, from fibreglass batting to sprayable foam to blow-able insulation that can include recycled paper or fabric.
While you’re at it, eliminate leaks with caulk and weatherstripping. Your home will be more comfortable as well as more energy-efficient.
Install a programmable thermostat to save energy on heating or cooling when no one’s home (some even offer remote control by a smartphone app).
People love wood floors. Bamboo is a sustainable alternative, but engineered flooring also saves trees by using wood veneer (from many species). Today it looks as good and wears as well as hardwood flooring (we like the hand-scraped version — the contoured surface hides many scratches and scuffs). The best laminate flooring costs less, lasts longer and is relatively easy to install or replace.
For exteriors, a sustainable alternative to wood is fibre cement siding. It’s non-combustible, made from natural raw materials, seldom needs repainting and resists warping, rot and insect damage. You can get it in the same styles and dimensions as wood siding and shingles, and it looks great.
Solar energy is no longer the wave of the future — it’s here now and booming as costs drop and demand grows.
The Ontario Power Authority’s micro-FIT program helps homeowners pay for solar systems by buying power from them, enhancing the savings from lower energy bills. Make sure you use a savvy, qualified installer.
Solar panels add value to your rooftop while cutting use of fossil fuels. They’re good for the environment and an enduring asset for your home.
Going green is a great way to help the environment and save money!
Invest in energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen
Catch Drew and Jonathan Scott in new episodes of Property Brothers on W Network, Mondays at 9 p.m., and pick up a copy of their new book, Dream Home available from April 4. PROPERTY BROTHERS