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How to Do a Sustainable Home Remodel

Remodeling your home can be a huge headache from the start, and it’s always difficult and frustrating even when the end result is worth it. However, with the added layer of necessary sustainability added in, it’s a migraine waiting to happen. 

If you’ve decided to remodel your home, you’re already a step ahead in sustainability. Instead of wasting resources on a newly built house, you’re refurbishing an old one instead, thereby decreasing your environmental impact on global resources. 

But if you’re making an older house more eco-friendly, you’re in for some serious renovations during your remodel. There are a lot of things to consider when making your home sustainable, and that doesn’t just include the end-result. The process of remodeling should be sustainable too. Regular home renovations have a lot of environmental downsides, such as off-gassing of paints and sealants, increased waste of old materials and the harvesting of new materials. 

Here are some tips for making your remodel more sustainable and eco-friendly.

Don’t Gut the Place

In a typical remodel, a demo crew comes in and tears out old finishing and fitting, tearing things apart and hauling out the destroyed material to a dumpster and hauls it away. A greener alternative is to carefully take apart your old finishing, and instead of destroying and disposing of the material, reuse them. These materials could be reused for the remodel, saving you money and decreasing your impact. 

Choose the Best Materials

You won’t be able to complete the entire project using only recycled materials, so when you do have to buy new materials for the remodel, be heedful of your decision. Lot’s of materials that you can buy are harmful to both you and the environment, either through toxins and off-gasses that they produce, or the production of the material itself. 

When buying lumber, be sure to use brands that source their wood sustainably. Some lumber is produced in a sustainable lumber farm, where others are produced by large-scale deforestation. Some companies even offer reclaimed wood, getting you access to cuts you wouldn’t have by only using your own reclaimed materials. The same goes for any stone you may want to buy, say for a countertop. 

Do an Energy Audit

Part of remodeling your home to be more sustainable is looking into its consumption. Is your home using more water than it needs to? How is it heated? From where do you source your electricity?

These are all things to consider when trying to make your home more sustainable. To find exactly how you can reduce your impact, you can get an energy audit. You can also do this yourself, but if you can afford it, hire a professional. They can tell you exactly how you can reduce your home’s consumption. 

One very popular way of reducing your home’s energy impact is solar panels. It can be an expensive retrofit, and not all homes are suited to solar energy, but if your home is a candidate, there are many ways to fund this renovation and it eventually pays for itself. People commonly use FHA loans, but you could use any loan, such as home equity loan, unsecured loan, or even a title loan.

Consider Buying Newer Appliances, but Do Your Research

Newer appliances are much more efficient than older ones. Refrigerators use much less energy due to better insulations and better pumps, stoves require less energy to reach operating temperature and newer washers use less water. 

However, there is a trade-off here. These new appliances use raw materials to create and require energy at the factory, as well as in transit. Depending on your amount of use, it may be more sustainable to continue using your old appliances until they break and need replaced. Additionally, if you can find a newer used appliance, that is a good alternative. Following the hierarchy of reduce, reuse and recycle, reduce and reuse are more beneficial. So, either don’t buy new appliances if it doesn’t lead to a net gain in sustainability or buy more efficient but used ones. Only buy new if you have to. 

Hopefully these tips have helped ease your mind about your coming renovations or inspired you to take on the task of a sustainable remodel! 

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of Ways2GoGreen.com and Ways2GoGreenBlog.com. I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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