If you consider the environment when you’re out in public, chances are you’re interested in bringing sustainability home with you. You buy only eco-friendly brands, drive a hybrid or electric car, and recycle religiously. It’s only fitting that your interior design choices would match your commitment to environmental consciousness. Luckily, there are lots of projects you can take on, big and small, that will transform your home from a classic resource-guzzler into a cutting edge, green domicile. Here are just a few eco-friendly design features you should consider bringing into your home.
You may already have solar panels on the roof, but have you considered how best to take advantage of passive solar energy? The sun is an unending, renewable energy source, and your interior design choices should be focused on optimal usage. First off, open all your shades and curtains in the winter, so you get the benefit of all that sun and warmth. The more natural light you can bring inside, the fewer electric lights you’ll have to use. Any western or eastern facing windows will help out a great deal, so if you have the resources, consider adding more windows in those areas. You can also reap rewards by putting thermal shades on all of your windows. Drawn closed in the summer, they’ll absorb some of the heat you want to avoid, and they’ll keep the warm air generated by your heaters in the winter from escaping outside.
One inexpensive way to add eco-friendly interior design features is bringing more plant life into your home. They’re beautiful and peaceful to look at, while reducing stress and adding clean, fresh oxygen to the room. But most people don’t know that plants actually help to purify the air as well. If you’ve maxed out on plants, consider other ways to bring natural materials and fibers into the home. You can give any room in the house a green feel by using reclaimed or restored wood in your furniture design. Older wood has a lot of character, even if it’s imperfect. If you’re not constructing your own furniture, consider buying used pieces. You’ll be doing your part for sustainability by not requiring factory-new construction, and the classic pieces will give each room a distinctive feel. Organic bedding is a great option for the bedrooms as well. It’s certainly more expensive, but it’s also much more environmentally friendly. Finally, if you burn candles, choose beeswax or soy options. You’ll skip the toxic fumes emitted by paraffin candles with this sustainable, emission free option.
Design choices you make will all be beautiful, but the choices you make on larger jobs will cause the biggest impact, both on the environment and on your utilities bill. So update your thermostat with a programmable model, so your heat and air conditioning shut off when they’re not needed. Upgrade every faucet in the house with a low-flow model to reduce water consumption, and do the same with the showerheads and any indoor fountains you have. You won’t miss the wasted water at all. Finally, if you’re repainting any room, choose paints that are free of toxic emissions. Look for ‘low VOC or VOC free’ on the can. The colors are just as beautiful, but you’ll keep some nasty chemicals out of your environment.