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Seeing Green: Your Guide to Green Remodeling and Home Improvements

Seeing Green: Your Guide to Green Remodeling and Home Improvements

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December 3, 2008

Saving the planet has grown from being the cause of tree-hugging hippies to a trend with nationwide attention. With more and more commuters switching to bikes, grocery stores pushing reusable canvas bags, and presidential candidates talking renewable energy sources, you might be thinking about how your actions are impacting the planet.

When it comes to your home, we've got solutions and ideas to help you understand your options for going green. Don't think that an environmentally friendly house has to cost more money, there are ideas big and small that can make a difference to the environment.

Major Remodels: Green Luxury

If you're dreaming of a major change in your home, remodeling your bathroom, master bedroom suite, kitchen or simply revamping any room in your house could be the perfect option. While homeowners may think they'll have to sacrifice style and their budget for eco-friendly room additions, green construction has come a long way since it began. New materials and techniques being created make going green easy for any homeowner.

One easy way to lessen the impact of your room remodel is to include green materials. There are a growing number of unique environmental options for almost any part of your house. Recycled glass can be used to make beautiful granite-like countertops for your kitchen. Cork can be installed for soft, comfortable and sustainable flooring anywhere in your home. Low VOC paint is perfect for your walls. You'd be surprised at just how beautiful and affordable green materials can be.

Most room additions and remodels involve a lot of tear-out and wasted materials. One philosophy of green construction is to do everything you can to reduce waste. One option with your tear out is to take any re-usable parts to a salvage center. Or, if you're looking for inexpensive, lightly used doors, windows, or even hardware, you can recycle by using parts found at a salvage center. Find a salvage center in your area and start recycling.

Conserve Energy and Your Wallet

The best way to lower your energy bills is obvious: reduce the amount of energy you use. You don't have to make big sacrifices to reduce energy use. You just need to be smart about how your home uses energy, and make sure that no unneeded energy is used.

Checking the amount of insulation your home has is the first step towards conserving energy. If you don't have enough insulation, or you have damaged, leaking insulation, you are wasting energy. However a simple inspection your home will pinpoint problem areas which you can fix by simply replacing, or adding insulation. The usual suspects lacking insulation are the attic, window and door frames, the garage and ducts.

Another way to insulate your home, and save on your energy bills, is to replace your windows with ENERGY STAR double paned windows. These windows do a better job of trapping in warm air in winter and cold air in summer. If you have an older home, you might be surprised at the difference installing new energy efficient windows can make. ENERGY STAR windows are twice as efficient as windows from as little as ten years ago.

Still want to save more energy? A giant culprit of energy waste in your home is your appliances. If you have older appliances, they use far more energy than newer ENERGY STAR rated appliances available today. The ENERGY STAR website claims that switching to appliances with an ENERGY STAR approved rating can save you, on average, $75 a year. That might not seem like much, but over the years it can add up to big savings for you and the earth.

>>Guide to Green Building Prt. 2: Solar Panels and Weekend Projects>>

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