Let’s face it, not everyone can go out there and build a new house to have a green home. A lot of older homes will need to be renovated. With green renovations, there’s a sequence to what you do. For example, if your home has poor insulation and leaks energy, putting solar panels on the roof shouldn’t be your first step to greening the home. You’d still be wasting too much energy and not getting much bang out the solar panels. The following list is going to be fairly generic, but if you’d like to get more information on green rehabs, give David Johnston’s book a look, he’s the expert on green remodeling.
- Purchase Energy Star – these days, appliances that don’t have the Energy Star label probably don’t sell, but you may have a lot of stuff lying around that hogs the energy. Gradually think about replacing that stuff with Energy Star stuff.
- Mind the Gaps – there’s no reason to lose energy through cracks, gaps, and creases in your home. In the summer, you’ll lose cool air. In the winter, you’ll lose warm air. Also, you’re probably having to over-cool or over-heat your place depending on what’s going on in the attic. Insulation is good. Caulking is good. Weather-stripping is good.
- Do a Blow Test - what you’re doing here is finding the air holes in a house and patching them up. It’s important to have the proper air tightness and the blower door test can help.
- Watch Your Water – consider all the myriad of ways water is used and think about doing things differently. If you’re going to get a new toilet, you might as well get the dual-flush. If you’re remodeling, you might as well swap out the fixtures for new, low-flow fixtures. Maybe a tankless water heater would be good, too.
- Upgrade the Windows – this step may not be as important as minding the gaps or doing a blow test, but new windows change the feel of a home. These days, windows can allow natural light and block heat gain, but you’ll want to look for low-E coatings and double-paned windows.
These five steps are going to help you save water and energy, but this is only one portion of the green home equation. Later on, you might think about what you have inside your home and how that stuff affects indoor air quality. Also, if you’re doing any type of repair or rehabbing, you’ll also want to work with sustainable materials. Three prongs: resource efficiency, sustainable materials, and indoor air quality. Via BusinessWeek; see also 5 Dumbest Renovation Fads.