The year may be nearly halfway over, but it’s never too late to make this the year you embrace green living at home. Here’s the good news—making the changes essential to a more environmentally responsible way of life is easier than ever. Several years of policy changes, along with advances in the industry, have made eco-friendly products more affordable and more accessible to homeowners who are living a wide variety of lifestyles.
Are you planning a major remodel or simply hoping to update a few areas of your home? Take a look at the trendiest of green products we are seeing this year and learn exactly how you can embrace these trends in your own home with key home upgrades to help you live greener.
“Making the changes essential to a
more environmentally responsible
way of life is easier than ever.”
Here are some great tips from our friends at Modernize, one of their favorite ways to make a dramatic change at home while making the switch to green home improvement products is with a fresh coat of paint. Unfortunately, most traditional paints are high-VOC, which means they release a large amount of volatile organic compounds into the air. These compounds are made of chemicals that evaporate into the air when they reach room temperature. This has a detrimental effect on the environment, since their emissions contribute to air pollution, but they also have negative effects on your health—they’ve been found to cause respiratory illness, headaches, and nervous system problems.
But low-VOC paints are currently replacing their unhealthy alternatives. In California, paint manufacturers are now required by law to only manufacture paints with VOCs making up 3 percent or less of their weight.
Don’t forget that how you dispose of excess paint matters, too. Paint cans and excess paint must be kept out of landfills and, instead, entrusted to hazardous waste management programs. California once again proves itself to be a leader in environmentally friendly policies by creating the Paint Stewardship Program, a statewide program connecting residents with paint manufacturers committed to responsibly disposing of excess paint.
The price tag on furniture products using conventional methods may be tempting, especially when compared to the cost of more environmentally friendly options, but the long term cost of these products to your health and the wellbeing of the environment are simply not worth the monetary savings. Unless otherwise stated, it is safe to assume that the furniture you are considering will release harmful amounts of VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, into the air in your home.
By choosing eco-friendly furniture, you can feel at peace with your decision knowing manufacturers have opted to use recycled or reclaimed materials whenever possible, as well as natural or organic materials that won’t jeopardize the indoor air quality in your home.
Low-VOC and Recycled Flooring
The building materials you use in your home matter, from the paint on your walls to the hardwood or carpeting used for your flooring. Although it can be more affordable, flooring manufactured using conventional methods can have notably negative effects on the environment—and the health of those living in your home!
Much like paint, carpet can contain high levels of volatile organic compounds, which are not only harmful to your health but also play a role in climate change when combined with nitrogen oxides. In the state of California, carpet manufacturers are required to obtain certification stating their products are low-VOC if they want to place the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus on their products. These labels make it easy for you to find the healthiest carpeting products for your home.
Bamboo is one of the most eco-friendly flooring types around, since it’s abundant and renewable—it can even grow up to several feet per day. Linoleum is also a great choice because of how durable and long-lasting it is—one linoleum floor could last you a lifetime! Cork is another green alternative, and in addition to being sustainable and durable, it’s also shock-absorbent, unlike most hard flooring. The only drawback to cork is that its color can be affected by sunlight, so if your kitchen has a lot of natural light, this floor may not be the best choice.
When in doubt, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo, which certifies that a product was sustainably sourced.
Don’t be scared off by the high sticker price of home solar panels, because you can eventually recoup the cost of your installment, and you’ll be running on clean energy until then. Many states offer federal tax rebates by percentages of total costs or lump sums. You may even be exempt from additional property taxes that result from the value solar panels will add to your home. In case you do decide to sell your home, though, you will be able to ask for a better price. It’s a win-win!
Using solar energy will significantly decrease your monthly utility bills, and you can even sell energy back to the grid. Most states pay you at the same rate they charge you, and other states offer tax deductions to compensate. Your house could make you money, and you won’t have to do a thing. Going green has never been such a win-win!
About the Author
Mary Sauer lives in the Midwest with her husband and two young daughters. She enjoys writing professionally for the energy efficient heating and cooling experts at Modernize. She hopes to empower homeowners with expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.
Have you made or are you planning any green home upgrades this year?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.