First and foremost, eco-friendly remodels are about preserving resources and protecting the environment. But practicality doesn’t have to take precedence over beauty. In fact, eco-friendly products often have more character and are made more thoughtfully than mass-produced alternatives. If your home needs a refresh, consider one of these aesthetic-boosting, earth-friendly updates.
Energy Efficient Windows
If your energy bills are high and your windows are old, it may be time to consider installing new energy efficient windows. Look for Energy Star rated windows, which can lower your energy bills by around 12 percent. Take the opportunity to change up the style or maybe even add windows that will naturally help warm your house during the cold winter months.
Outdoor Solar Lighting
Outdoor solar lights are completely self-sufficient. You don’t need to do any electrical work to install them, which means you can put them anywhere on your property, adding to the beauty (and safety) of your outdoor living spaces. They generate and store power during daylight hours and use it at night. There are countless styles available, so if you were thinking of illuminating your yard or deck, you might as well go solar!
Even though asphalt roofing is affordable and fairly durable, think twice before replacing a worn-out roof with more asphalt. Metal roofs may be more expensive because of the premium materials, but they last longer, they’re more energy efficient, and they’re usually made from an ample percentage of recycled materials. Metal can also be recycled once its useful life on your roof has ended. Plus, it looks great! If you’re on a budget, consider going with recycled rubber roofing, which can mimic the look of traditional asphalt, but is more eco-friendly and offers a more intense thermal barrier.
Composite is a mixture of wood and plastic—but before you think plastic sounds far less eco-friendly than wood, you should know that it’s partly composed of post-consumer recycled content. Getting eco-friendly wood can be tricky, so this is a good compromise that still looks beautiful. However, if you’re sold on wood, make sure you’re buying products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
If there’s a dark room in your house that has to be lit from inside 24/7 just to be considered useable space, install a skylight or two. This will help decrease your energy usage and, of course, make the room bright and cheery—because who could possibly choose artificial lighting over soft sunlight and a view of the sky? This will give new life to a previously unused space, making your home feel even larger and more welcoming than before.
VOC-Free Paint Job
Your average paint is laden with volatile organic compounds, which negatively impact air quality and can even lead to health side effects like respiratory issues and headaches. And they’re harmful beyond the paint drying. In fact, paint can continue to emit VOCs for years. So instead of buying regular solvent-based paints, check out water-based or milk-based paints and look for the “Zero VOC” label. Solvents have traditionally been used to make the paint the right consistency for application, but nowadays paints without solvents perform just as well.
Solvents are also contained in varnishes and stains, so make sure you’re getting the most eco-friendly, healthy products for all your home makeovers.
Recycled Glass Countertops
As an alternative to granite or laminate countertops, consider going with resin-based recycled glass. Most products are stain-resistant, sustainable, and made from 100 percent recycled glass. Some are even manufactured in such a way as to produce no water waste.
Recycled glass countertops are available in countless colors and work for both glamorous and simple decor styles.
Making eco-friendly home updates takes a bit more thought than simply buying whatever catches your eye without regard for the environment. But it will pay off in beauty, uniqueness, and the satisfaction of investing in quality earth-friendly products.
Hannah West writes for Modernize with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.