Home remodeling is both a thriving and constantly shifting industry. Changing legislation, climate change, market upturns and downturns; many factors affect home improvement and remodeling. One such factor that is rising to play an ever-increasing role in this industry is energy efficiency and sustainability. Both were initially tackled at a macro level but it has become apparent that stumbling blocks on a national and global scale make it very difficult to bring real change from that level. So many home-level initiatives have been proposed and continue to evolve. Here are three things you should keep in mind when considering home improvement or remodeling.
This is the first and most obvious thing you need to consider. The EPA and Energy Star rating agencies provide great guidelines and ideas on how to tackle energy efficiency but sometimes they may not be very clear about how to do this or what tools you can use to make this easier. One of the things you need to first do is some good old fashioned research. Put in some hours to find out the energy efficiency of the various improvements and materials you will be using.
For example, if you are installing a skylight, you may want to find out what are the most energy efficient designs out there, what glass to use in order to maximize light but minimize heat loss and so on. Being informed is the most powerful asset you can have in making your house more energy efficient while still preserving aesthetic aspects. Another important thing you can do is to invest in energy efficiency measuring and monitoring gadgets. These are cheap tools that help you analyze your progress and alert you when you are not keeping within energy efficiency ratios. A good example of this is a thermal leak detector. By pointing this infrared gadget at various areas of your home you can be able to tell where heat loss is happening and how you then find ways to reduce this.
Being a responsible citizen of this planet means being more conscious about the materials you use to make home improvements. Taking time to investigate the sustainability of, say, the wood products you will be using will help you choose vendors that promote sustainable practices and by extension add value to the planet. Sustainability could also means using products that are long lasting over products that need replacement in a short time.
For example, instead of adding a vase of flowers that requires you to put in fresh flowers every other day why not consider investing in some house plants? They take more time to cultivate and patience but in the long run are more sustainable. You may also consider installing solar or natural light products that also promote sustainability in addition to lowering energy consumption. For example, you will never have to replace the light in a skylight (the sun) but will have to replace bulbs when they burn out over time.
Being ecofriendly has more to do with being design conscious than anything else. Because we are all part of a larger ecosystem, it is always good to think beyond just beauty and think of ecofriendly accents in our home improvement designs. For example, you may live near a swallow colony that hunts in the neighborhood. Considering the swiftness and daring flight habits of swallows, you may decide against putting up some glass fixtures or structures outside the home because they may end up acting as death traps for the swallows.
Another example would be supporting the local bee colonies by planting pollen-rich flowers in your garden rather than just beautiful plants. These may not seem as initiatives that may have a terribly huge effect on the environment but you may rest assured you will have some very thankful swallows and bees heavily indebted to you.
Home improvements area great but what can be even better is to have them add value and beauty at the same time to the spaces we live in. There is nothing quite more beautiful than a home that has design esthetics but also fills up the efficient and ecofriendly requirements sufficiently. THAT is the definition of a beautiful home.
Guest post by Scott Ryan writing for the Window Exchange Service, a Brisbane home improvement firm passionate about sustainability.
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