Ready to step beyond Energy Star appliance upgrades to reduce energy consumption in your home? There are a number of ways to incorporate green construction into your home remodeling plans, reducing the carbon footprint of the work, increasing the sustainability of your home long into the future, and saving money in energy costs.
Go tankless. Traditional hot water tanks can be energy drains, because they spend a lot of time heating water that’s just sitting around unused. Whether your water tank is heated by electricity or gas, it wastes a lot of energy keeping the water temperature at the desired level. A tankless water heater, on the other hand, heats water only on demand, using much less energy to deliver hot water throughout your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankless water heaters are up to 34 percent more efficient than the storage tank variety.
Get aggressive on passive solar. Passive solar techniques can make a major difference in the amount of energy you use to warm up or cool down your home. In the winter, large, south-facing windows can be used to let in as much warm sunlight as possible into the rooms on that side of the house. Materials that soak up warmth from direct sunlight and slowly release it throughout the day and night — including concrete, bricks and stone — also can provide free winter heat sources for your home. In the summer, when you want your home to remain cooler, overhanging eaves block most overhead rays, providing shade and keeping heat out of the home.
Let there be light. Large picture windows and skylights can increase the amount of natural light that filters into the home, reducing the need to have electric lights burning energy throughout the day. And when extra light is needed, such as on summer nights or winter evenings, LED bulbs can provide major savings. LEDs generally use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times as long as incandescent lighting. That energy savings is mostly because LEDs run cool; 90 percent of the energy from incandescent bulbs goes and 80 percent of the energy from CFLs go to heat, according to energy.gov. That’s a terrible use of energy from a device that you only need to produce light.
Say no to toxins. These days, it’s not too hard to find paint and other household finishings that don’t make your breathing air hazardous to your health. And not only do non-toxic, water-based paints improve your air quality, they’re also better for the environment. Consider this: According to the California Air Resources Board, more than two-thirds of the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the air there come from paints and coatings.
Use recycled materials. Making good use of previously used products (wood, cabinets, sinks, appliances and more) can be a great way to limit the environmental impact of a remodel. When you can reuse something instead of throwing it in a landfill and buying a new one, you’ve aided the Earth on several levels. For a good start in Whatcom County, consider looking at the RE Store or Habitat for Humanity store, both in Bellingham.
As you’ve probably noticed, this is far from an exhaustive list! Contact Hudson Remodeling for ideas and to chat about how we can reduce the carbon footprint of your remodel. Or catch us at the Whatcom County Home and Garden Show March 1 to 3 in Lynden!