Tips to help you go green and save money
Green remodeling can be a homeowner's dream—benefiting the environment and saving a bundle on bills. However, the task can seem daunting, and sometimes the cost can appear to outweigh the benefit. This article outlines the best ideas in green remodeling and new green technologies now on the market.
Tips for a Green Bathroom Remodel
Bathrooms are a major source of energy loss, with multiple taps for running water and heat requirements. Everyone has heard that placing a brick in the toilet tank will reduce water usage, but there are many more options.
Reduce Water Flow
A faucet aerator will reduce water flow from the tap by up to 50%. This can be a great way to conserve energy on top of simple things, like turning the water flow off when brushing your teeth or not filling the sink when shaving. Low-flow shower heads are also available to increase water conservation. Technology has improved these water reducers so that the reduced flow is barely noticeable.
There is also new technology for toilet water usage. Dual-flush toilets are now available that have different water usage for liquid or solid waste. Many new toilet models also have smaller reservoir tanks—however, older models do have adjustable tank levels, so that you needn't replace an old fixture.
Use the Sun to Heat
Staying warm in the bathroom is an important consideration. Rather than installing wall heaters, skylights can let in sunlight to warm the area, and reduce the use of electricity. Another electricity reducing option is changing old bulbs for CFLs (compact fluorescent lights), more energy efficient replacements for the multiple lights that are often found in bathrooms.
Consider Tankless Water Heaters
Water heaters are a huge source of energy consumption for the bathroom. Traditional water heaters use energy to heat the water and even more to keep the stored water warm. New, tankless water heaters heat water only as it travels through the pipes. Insulating the pipes of your old hot water heater will also reduce its energy usage.
Granite and ceramic are popular options for countertops and floors. However, glass, tile or recycled ceramic are great alternatives. They are locally available, so less energy is used to ship them, and are more environmentally friendly has they have not been quarried or use energy expensive processes to be made.
Stay Green with no-VOC Bathroom Cleaners
Last of all, it is important to consider the cleaning products you use in your bathroom. Many use chemicals called VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are harmful to your health and to the environment. However, many more green options are becoming available—just look for the low- or no-VOC listing on the labels.
Green Flooring Options
Bamboo is a very popular choice for environmentally conscious flooring. Bamboo grows quickly, so that it needs no replanting or pesticides. Cork is also popular, comes in a wider variety of colors, and is a 100% renewable resource.
Flooring Using Green Resources
Natural linoleum, made from renewable resources like clay, cork, or limestone instead of plastic, is another green flooring option. Natural linoleum is just as durable as traditional linoleum, and can also be easily installed by yourself.
Concrete with an Attractive Finish
Concrete can also be a green flooring alternative. The thought of exposed concrete may not seem attractive, but there are plenty of low-VOC finishes that provide a variety of shines and textures for your needs. Also, concrete absorbs heat, especially from in-floor heating, which will make your house seem warmer and reduce your heating bills.
Recycled flooring materials are another option. Recycled rubber, which may bring playgrounds to mind at first, can be finished in a way that makes it a good replacement for linoleum. Recycled tile or ceramic flooring is also available, and can give you the look you want without the energy consumption of original tile or ceramic flooring.
Green painting options
The strong odor of most paints comes from their high VOC content. These compounds can cause many health problems, and are dangerous to the environment. There are now low- or no-VOC paints available, which are clearly labeled and can be found at most home improvement stores. Natural paints, made from plant dyes, clay, beeswax or natural latex are also available from a variety of companies.
Green Tax Rebates
The best news in green remodeling is that new tax credits will become available for homeowners in January 2009. Starting with the biggest and best first:
- 30% rebate, up to $2,000.00, on geothermal or solar heating systems
- $300 back on Energy Star air conditioning systems, heat pumps, or water heaters
- $150 back on energy efficient furnaces
- 10% rebate on Energy Star windows, doors, roofing, and insulation
Going Green: The Bottom Line
At first glance, green home remodels can appear expensive. But when you consider the money you will be saving on bills plus possible tax rebates, not to mention the peace of mind that being environmentally friendly will bring, the change is completely worth it. Need help finding a green contractor.
"Green" topics have never been a hotter subject and energy efficient products are appearing everywhere, so now may be the time to start your own green remodeling project.
Disclaimer: This article offers general guidelines and is not intended as professional advice.