Sustainably remodeling your house means finding a contractor who knows how to retrofit your home for energy efficiency and knows how to use sustainable materials in an environmentally friendly way. Not only will your new living space help reduce your carbon footprint, but it will be more comfortable and affordable in the long run.
Remodeling Your Home Sustainably
Finding a contractor who has the knowledge and experience to complete a sustainable remodel is not easy. Many contractors market themselves as being green, but that's because they know that their customers are looking for green contractors and that many people don't know how to evaluate whether a remodel is done sustainably or not.
When you're considering doing a remodel, be sure to do two things. First, find a designer and/or contractor that really knows how to do the project in a green way: using reclaimed and sustainably produced products, recycling and re-using as much as possible from demolition debris and designing the remodel around energy efficiency and green design by incorporating passive solar and/or geothermal heating and cooling systems.
Second, make sure to take the opportunity to insulate and air seal hard to reach places (like walls) while you're doing the project. The best way to make sure that all the right things get addressed is to get an energy audit before your remodel planning starts so you can make sure your general contractor addresses all the best efficiency opportunities.
Measures and Design to Incorporate into Your Project
Natural Lighting: The way your home is designed can reduce your need for electrical lighting by thoughtfully placing energy-efficient windows and skylights throughout your home to allow the sun to naturally brighten your living space. Modern buildings designed with daylighting in mind use as much as 60 percent less electricity for lighting than traditional buildings.
Energy-Efficient Lighting: By installing LEDs to light your home, you'll save a lot of money on your electric bill. LED's also work really well with dimmer switches, which can control ambiance and save you money.
Ventilation: Properly ventilating your home can help prevent unwanted moisture and mold and ultimately improve the air quality of your home. This is especially important in tightly sealed homes because without ventilation, air can become stagnant.
Energy-Efficient Appliances: Whether revamping your whole home or remodeling a kitchen, it's important to incorporate ENERGY STAR appliances into your project. These appliances can help reduce your energy and water use, ultimately saving you money and reducing your environmental impact.
Solar Panels: If a sustainable remodeling project is going to optimize your home's energy efficiency, you may be a great candidate for solar. By maximizing your home's energy efficiency before installing solar, you may be able to purchase a smaller, more affordable photovoltaic system that can provide your home with electricity, putting you one step closer to a zero-energy home.
Last Updated: April 2010
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