Increasingly, one of the first things homeowners mention when asked about their home improvement plans is the desire to make their homes green or to keep their home improvements eco-friendly. At the same time, however, many homeowners are unsure of what this means in practical terms so they may not be able to communicate their desires properly to their Pro, resulting in confusion. There are actually two ways that you can create an environmentally responsible design, and bridge the gap between home improvements and sustaining the environment. You can choose to do one method, the other, or both in your home improvement quest.

Creating an Energy Efficient Home

One part of eco-friendly design is creating a home or building that uses less energy. This is an attractive option for most homeowners because studies have shown that for every dollar you spend to increase the energy efficiency of your home, you’ll save seven dollars on your energy bills. If you’re already having work done on your home, it makes sense to upgrade your energy efficiency at the same time.

This is best carried out by having what’s called an energy audit done on your home before construction begins. An energy audit determines where you’re currently using too much energy or where you’re losing it, and will make recommendations on how to correct these issues. Some things may include:

  • Adding additional insulation
  • Sealing up air gaps around windows and doors
  • Replacing windows
  • Cleaning your air ducts
  • Installing new air ducts or more returns
  • Insulating your hot water heater
  • Replacing major appliances with more energy efficient models

These things are all relatively easy to do during other home improvements, and can dramatically increase your home’s green status.

Choosing Green Building Materials

The other side of eco-friendly home improvements comes from selecting materials that are green. In most cases, some materials are greener options for everything from your faucets to your flooring, and many of them cost about the same as their non-green counterparts, while still complimenting many different classical building concerns, such as comfort, style, utility, and durability. Choices you may want to consider as part of your home improvements include:

  • Recycled glass tile or countertops
  • Wood flooring from a company that practices eco-friendly manufacturing
  • Reclaimed stone, tile, or wood from older homes and buildings
  • Porcelain tile made from recycled clay
  • Low VOC paints and stains

The key is to make sure that you discuss your desire for green building materials with your Pro, and with the showrooms and suppliers you order from. There are always choices, but some may take longer to get, while others may cost more or limit your choice in color. By making your position on environmentally sustainable design clear, you can ensure that your Pro and design team seek out those materials for you, and understand that lead times might be longer or choices fewer.

Creating a Truly Green Home

The greenest homes are the ones that involve both green building materials and a low-energy score by conducting an energy audit before beginning and addressing any problems uncovered. Remember, though, that any green choices that you make are better than none, and many of these choices do pay for themselves over time. Seeking out a Pro that specializes in green building or green design can help you maximize your home’s potential.