Mar 29, 2013

How green are you?

When it comes to remodels and upgrades, the reason to use sustainable or "green" materials and processes goes beyond reducing your carbon footprint. Sustainable materials create a healthier interior, reduce or eliminate long-term chemical off-gassing, require fewer resources, do less environmental harm, and reduce long-term energy and maintenance costs.  When you're thinking of buying new items for your home, updating a room, or just swapping what you have for something new, consider using eco-friendly items. Here are 5 affordable ways with easy to find products.

1. Replace those incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights or light emitting diode (LED) in table lamps, ceiling and pendant fixtures, and even recessed ceiling (can or pot) lights.  There are many styles to select from with good color temperature. Many are dimmable as well. You'll use 75% less electricity and have a bulb that lasts 4-10 times longer....a great value.  With 100 watt bulbs being phased out in CA in January, with other states and wattages to follow, get started on your energy savings now. Many stores offer discount cost for multi-paks and some municipalities provide on-the-spot price incentives. 

2. Save water and create a new look by swapping fixtures in your bath and kitchen with WaterSense label fixtures. Check out Delta for some beautiful, affordable and functional fixtures. You could save over 500 gallons of water per year! Don't want to replace? Add a $3 screw on aerator to the spout for a big water savings.

3. Almost half of your home's energy consumption is due to heating and cooling.  Turn down the thermostat in cold weather. Each degree below 68°F (20°C) during colder weather saves 3%-5% more heating energy. When you come in from the cold, 68 will feel warm. At night, I turn mine down a bit further and use my down alternative comforter to sleep.  A programmable thermostat heats the house back up in the morning.  Remember to clean your furnace's air filter monthly. Need to update?  Today's furnaces are about 25% more efficient than they were in the 1980s and remember to check out furnaces carrying the Energy Star label.

4. Give your room a quick face lift by painting an accent wall in no VOC paint from Sherwin Williams.  The Harmony line of paints is both no-VOC and low odor and their new Emerald line has performance, color retention and durability in store for you. 

5. Updating your bedding and bath? Purchase products made with bamboo.  The fibers are soft, luxurious and affordable. There is no pesticide used in growing it, and bamboo is an easily renewable resource. It's naturally antibacterial and your towels will be highly absorbent. A bonus for allergy sufferers...they are gentle and unlikely to cause reactions.