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

Richmond Hill Post - - Homes -

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

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