Green Renovation Checklist
Plug air leaks
Before you hang the drapes, get those windows up to peak performance. This simple step can go a long way toward keeping your home at the temperature you desire, cutting energy use. Common leaks occur around windows, doors, and other wall penetrations. Plugging those leaks with weather stripping and caulk, a simple task for anyone, can reduce your energy bill by $100 or more.
Choose Energy Star appliances
A new home often means new appliances, and Energy Star qualified products meet a high level of energy efficiency, translating into savings on electric bills. Even if an Energy Star appliance seems costlier at first glance, consider that you could save more than $50 a year per appliance.
Photovoltaics—technology that uses solar cells or arrays to convert light from the sun directly into electricity or heat—is increasingly available for residential use. Solar power can be harnessed to create electricity for your home, to heat water, and to improve indoor lighting. The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy can help you find the right solar solutions for you.
Reduce water use
Inside, install aerators—available for a few dollars at your local home supply store—to your sink faucets and change to low-flow showerheads. Outside, plant that new yard with native plants and minimize high-maintenance landscaping such as turf grass.
Use low-VOC products
Get your new home off to a fresh start by switching to products that don’t give off volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Low- or no-VOC products greatly improve indoor air quality and protect your health. Look for low-VOC paints and cleaning products.
Use wood alternatives or FSC-certified wood products
Does the new place need new flooring or cabinetry? The type of materials you use can have a positive effect on your health and pocketbook while reducing your environmental impact. Consider using environmentally preferable and rapidly renewable products such as linoleum, bamboo, recycled-content tile, or no-VOC carpet. Choose wood products from sustainably managed forests, such as those certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. And use locally sourced products when possible to reduce carbon emissions associated with transport.
Plant trees to provide shade and wind protection for your house
This simple step can help you save money on heating and air conditioning bills while providing beautiful views around your home.
Use native plantings
Native plants have been growing and evolving in your area for thousands of years and, as a result, have adapted to the local soils and climate. As a result they are more likely to thrive with minimal care, unlike exotic plants. That can mean less need for water, fertilizer, and pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency has additional information on green landscaping techniques.
Green Home Guide Staff