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A Green Home Improvement

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Green architecture is becoming increasingly important. It encompasses practices that are increasing the efficiency of our resource use (water, energy and natural materials) and reducing the impact on the environment and human health during the very construction, design, maintenance and the building's lifecycle. On a smaller scale, using green philosophy to renovate and decorate your home can help you save money on electricity and water bills. If you are determined to enjoy all the benefits of a green home, here is everything you need to know about creating one.

Find out where your money goes

The first step towards an energy-efficient home includes a professional energy audit which will give you a clear idea about what your home's biggest issues are and where the energy is being wasted. It will also point you in the right direction when it comes to remodeling projects. Since an energy audit is a clear step towards going green, your local utility might even provide it free of charge or you can get some tax breaks.

Prevent the heat/cool from leaving your house

Heating and cooling account for almost half of your home's total energy consumption, and when you know that a large part of it is being wasted, this is even more frustrating. To prevent this, you should check for any air leaks (usually found around the doors or windows) and seal them with a caulk gun. If your house's problems go beyond that, perhaps you should upgrade the entire insulation (especially in the attic).

Be smarter with the heating/cooling

Installing a smart thermostat can help you control the temperature inside your house via an app from anywhere. Not only that, some programmable thermostats are capable of learning from your habits and automatically modulating the temperature inside your home based on the time of the day and other factors.

Windows and doors upgrades

Upgrading windows and doors are among the most popular green home improvement ideas, and not only because they can help them get tax credits, but also because they can significantly reduce your household's energy consumption. Installing double- or triple-glazed windows might seem costly at the beginning, but it lowers the energy bills, makes your home safer, reduces the noise and increases your home's value.

Water heating considerations

If you are still using tank water heater, you are probably losing a lot of money on heating the water inside your household. This is the perfect opportunity to change it for a tankless water heater which provides hot water on-demand. Alternatively, go for a solar water heater which heats water by collecting the energy from the sun.

Energy-efficient kitchens

The appliances in your kitchen are responsible for a large part of your house's total energy consumption. This is especially true if you are using outdated units. For example, an old fridge wastes a lot more energy than a new one because it struggles to maintain the cool temperature. Replace your appliances with new Energy Star rated ones and you will save money and energy.

Green up your bathroom

Almost 50 percent of the household's total water use happens in the bathroom, and the two biggest culprits for that are the toilet and the shower. Replacing an old toilet model with a low-flush model could recoup your costs in up to five years or less. You could also reduce your water consumption by installing a low-flow showerhead.

Toxin-free construction

Green home improvement projects should also ensure a healthier indoor environment. Since our interior is often packed with toxins emitted from the construction materials, this is an important step to take into consideration. For example, some flooring materials can emit formaldehyde and other chemicals, while paint colors can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. The best way to combat that is to opt for natural alternatives, such as bamboo, cork or reclaimed wood floors and VOC-free paint colors.

Organic décor

Just as with the construction materials, some textiles (e.g. upholstery, drapes, rugs, carpets, bedding, cushions…) and furniture we use in our homes can potentially be hazardous. Using organic materials as an alternative may prevent the emission of harmful chemicals into the indoor air and contribute to a healthier life. Some of the desirable materials and fabrics are natural wood, stone, concrete, organic cotton, wool, jute, and seagrass.

Cleaning the home – the green way

Finally, once you are done with your design endeavors, you will need to clean the house, and you won't do that with petroleum-based products and destroy all your hard work. No. You will use natural cleaning products, such as vinegar, baking soda, lemon, and water.

Going green is a decision that benefits all, ranging from every member of your household to the entire planet. It doesn't have to be done all at once, but each step in the green direction can make a huge difference. 

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