Climate change devastates the world, and energy efficiency and sustainability are vital tools for preventing and reversing it. Millions of people and countless animal habitats worldwide already experienced extreme weather events connected to the warming planet.
Your home is necessary for you and your family to live comfortably. Occasionally, renovations are required to maintain it. You may want a change to increase your home value or bring you more joy. These renovations provide opportunities to make efficient changes that are as beneficial to you as they are to the Earth. Here are four home renovations that can reduce your carbon footprint.
You can significantly reduce your energy by better insulating your home. Suitable materials can hold heat and cold inside, making your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system work less. It might be time for this renovation if your HVAC constantly kicks on.
There are various materials you can choose from, including the following:
- Stone mineral wool: This is a great fire-resistant, sustainable option made from stone rolled with other materials.
- Fiberglass: This popular insulation solution typically uses recycled glass to form a flexible material. It’s pre-cut, making it easy to install.
- Cellulose: Made from a majority of recycled materials, this blown-in insulation material can go almost anywhere.
- Spray Foam: This foam is an eco-friendly solution to filling gaps in insulation around your home.
To make the most of your upgrade, seal any potential air leaks with caulk or weather stripping. Pay extra attention to areas around doors and windows you frequently open. Rooms that don’t have similar insulation to the rest of your home could make it challenging to maintain temperature efficiently. Consult with your contractor about the best insulation for your home.
Your windows and doors can play a large role in your home’s natural light, safety, and insulation.
Multi-paned windows are thicker than single-pane options and offer environmentally-friendly benefits. Windows let in plenty of natural light, which helps you rely less on artificial light bulbs. When you have more than one panel, it keeps the light without letting in excess heat. Thicker windows can also help protect your home from weather damage, reducing your need to replace them and other items that take energy to produce.
If you have an old door — especially an exterior one — consider replacing it with a newer one. A door’s R-value measures how well it resists permitting airflow between the two sides of its barrier.
Technological advancements allow newer doors to have a higher R-value, saving energy. These features include better seals and steel barriers filled with insulation. Like windows, thick doors can also protect your home.
Renewable energy sources can make a huge difference in your home’s efficiency by providing little to no carbon emissions. Renovating your home to add renewables is a big job, but the benefits of using little to no electricity from the power grid are hard to pass up.
Solar is a popular option that is growing more affordable. It can take several years to see a total return on your investment from the system, but you should see a fast change in your monthly energy costs. There are two ways to use the sun’s energy for your home — active and passive.
Passive solar collects and stores thermal mass through south-facing windows. All you need are the windows and a system that collects the heat they gather.
Solar panels are the star of a home using active solar energy. They work to collect the sun’s power to transform it into usable electricity directly.
When you think of wind energy, you might picture groups of large turbines spinning on a mountaintop. However, there are smaller turbines that can energize your home. Whether you can rely on a wind energy system depends on the strength and amount of wind you get.
A geothermal heat pump uses warmth under the Earth’s surface to heat and cool your home. It draws more heat when it’s cool outside and less when it’s warm. Geothermal is an excellent supplement or alternative to a traditional HVAC system.
A micro-hydropower system can use a nearby creek or stream to power your home. You’ll need the following equipment:
- A pipeline that delivers water from the source to your system
- A pump, waterwheel or turbine to collect the energy
- A generator or alternator to transform the energy from the water’s movement into electricity
- Wiring to deliver the electricity to your home
With the right system for your property, you can maintain a constant flow of water to produce energy.
Your kitchen is the heart of your home, especially if you love to cook or have little mouths to feed. An old refrigerator, oven, microwave and other appliances can drain energy, increasing your home’s carbon footprint.
Consider upgrading to Energy Star appliances, as they use electricity as efficiently as possible. Replace anything with a door that doesn’t seal properly, as it takes more energy for the device to maintain a consistent temperature. You can eliminate some energy use by unplugging small appliances when they’re not in use.
As a homeowner, there are many things to consider and just as many things you can do to improve your property. By making changes to increase energy efficiency and sustainability, you can save money and know you’re helping combat the effects of climate change.
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