Save Money And Make Your Next Renovation Eco-Friendly

When it comes to protecting the environment, the benefits are a long way in the future, and the costs are immediate. That’s why, according to interior designer and TV personality George Clark, people aren’t going to change the way they live – at least not without some benefits in the here and now.

Rather than taking an ideological view on the climate, Clark is more pragmatic. He says that if people are going to change, they need some incentives other than another Al Gore presentation about the end of the world.

Fortunately, things have moved on quite a bit since the early days of eco-friendly design. It’s no longer such a compromise to renovate a house in an eco-friendly way. In fact, in some situations, it’s incredibly high tech.

For regular homeowners, this means both getting some benefits and saving money on gas and electricity bills. Living more sustainably and reducing utility costs go hand-in-hand, and it’s something that everybody can benefit from.

Governments have realised this too. In the UK, for instance, the government wants to fit solar panels to 800,000 “social houses” to reduce utility costs for low-income residents. When you compare gas and electricity prices before and after the change, there’s a large difference. And that’s the benefit of eco-living: it helps level the playing field. No longer do you need a substantial income to run a big house, just the right approach to energy usage.

Here are some renovations that are eco-friendly and could save you money in the long term.

Build Draught Excluders Into New Doors

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If you’re planning on fitting new doors, you might be able to save a bit of money on your gas and electric at the same time. Rather than fitting draught excluders, which can look cumbersome and get dirty really easily, find ways to use the door itself to plug gaps between one room and another, especially exterior doors. The good news is that the majority of modern exterior doors come with draught-excluding seals which work much better than regular excluders. Find a door that fits the door frame perfectly and put an end to inch-thick gaps under your doors which let in all the cold air from outside.

Buy Furniture And Fittings Second-Hand

Most people think that the biggest energy cost involved in the delivery of goods comes at the shipping stage. But, in reality, it’s actually the manufacturing stage which involves the most energy use, especially for products which contain metal. As a result, even if you buy furniture locally, you may not be reducing the carbon footprint of your renovation.

It’s always better, therefore, to make use of old furniture: furniture that would otherwise have been thrown in a skip and dumped in a landfill. What’s more, second-hand furniture offers opportunities that new furniture doesn’t. Upcycling a piece of new furniture doesn’t make much sense. But taking something that is apparently past its best and making it new again can be a gratifying experience and something that’s well worth doing at least one.

Choose Low Electricity Appliances

When renovating a room, we rarely consider the type of appliances we choose. But it turns out that not only is the choice of appliances essential for eco-living, but it’s also important from a stylistic point of view.

Appliances, like radiators, aren’t just appliances anymore – something which many homeowners just hope will fade into the background. They’re fast becoming focal points for the room. There’s no longer any need to stick with your original cast-iron radiator and decorate the rest of the room around it. You can get different styles of radiators that can be made to suit any room and look good too.

A current favourite is tall, thin radiators that snake their way all the way up a wall to the ceiling. Gone are the ugly traditional column and cast iron radiators. Designer radiators are here to stay, and they look a heck of a lot better than their counterparts. Designer radiators come in chrome, stainless steel, and aluminium, as well as different colours.

Replace Your Drapes With Thicker Material

According to estimates, as much as 30 percent of all the heat lost from a home is lost through the windows. That represents a significant bump to your electricity and gas bill. But the good news is that you can stem the loss of heat through judicious investment in drapes.

Thin curtains might be all the rage right now, but thicker drapes can be made to work too, especially when paired with the perfect interior. You don’t want your drapes to look too heavy or overbearing, like something out of Wuthering Heights, but you do want something that will stop heat escaping, especially now winter is approaching.

Most professional drape suppliers will allow you to choose the tog of the material. Selecting a higher tog can help to keep small air pockets within the material, providing additional insulation and reducing heat loss.

Experiment With LED Lighting

LED lights were originally invented back in the 1990s. But, as with any new technology, they were extremely expensive, to begin with. Today that’s all changed, and the cost of LEDs has come down considerably. No, they’re not quite as cheap as old-fashioned incandescent bulbs just yet, but they’re well on their way. And, importantly, they provide greater bang for the buck: LED bulbs are able three times as expensive as regular bulbs, but they may last thirty times as long and use 10 percent of the energy.

There’s also another feature of LED lights that make them particularly appealing to homeowners: their versatility. It turns out that the underlying LED technology is a lot safer than traditional lighting technology and this means that LED lights can be arranged into all sorts of configurations which simply weren’t possible in the past. LEDs can be made so small and use up such little energy that they are now being fashioned into sources of light which mimic things in the natural world, like rushes and twigs. LEDs can also be placed in areas where it would previously have been difficult to put bulbs, again adding to their versatility. Lighting a space from multiple vectors, for instance, is easier with LED bulbs than other varieties.

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Stick With Wood Frames

If all you cared about was looks, which would you choose? Factory-produced UPVC window frames or wood frames? In all likelihood, it’s the latter. And the reason? Factory-produced UPVC frames are generic, ugly and hard to repair if they get damaged. Wooden frames, on the other hand, can be sanded down, chiselled away and be replaced piece by piece if necessary.

But there’s another reason to stick with wooden frames whenever possible: plastic frames are just downright dangerous for the environment. According to health experts, UPVC frames emit a toxin which can harm your health as well as the rest of the environment. Wood frames covered in non-VOC paint don’t.

Fill Your Cavity Walls Before You Start The Decorating

If you’re stripping back your old decor and are looking to replace it with something new, it’s worth thinking about filling the spaces between your cavity walls before you start decorating. Homes which don’t make use of cavity wall insulation can see their gas and electric bills skyrocket. What’s more, halfway through a renovation is the opportune time to start injecting insulating material. It’s cheap, and it’s best to do it while the decorating is ongoing to minimise disruption.

Buy Furniture Made From Recycled Materials

Have you ever wondered where all your recycled plastic and metal goes? Most of it goes back into new packaging products, but a small chunk of it also goes to make furniture.

The great thing about recycled furniture today is that you would never have guessed it was, other than the fact that manufacturers tend to be very proud of the fact. It’s high quality and sometimes more durable than unsustainably sourced furniture, thanks to its high plastic content.

Scrap Radiators Entirely

Waiting the screed

[Photo courtesy of Bill Nichols/Geograph.org.uk]

As discussed, efforts have been made to redeem radiators. But no matter how hard designers try, they rarely fit into the design of a room. Plus, they’re also not particularly energy efficient according to Clark, which is why you should consider alternatives.

Fortunately, you don’t have to freeze in the winter to keep your home stylish: just choose underfloor heating. Not only does it keep radiators out of your living spaces, but it’s also more energy-efficient, slashing the cost of your gas and electric bills.

Use Local Materials For Renovation Works

Bamboo is often considered to be an eco-friendly material because it grows quickly and comes from bamboo farms. But bamboo is cultivated a long way from its target market. Buyers of bamboo are often people in rich countries in the northern hemisphere, whereas bamboo tends to be grown near to the equator. That means that there’s a lot of energy involved in shipping it to your house. You can bypass all of this, of course, by source sustainable materials locally.

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Move or Improve? Renovating vs Selling Your Home

When you’re unhappy with your home, the correct course of action is often unclear. Is selling your home and buying a new one the way to go? It seems a little extreme. But there are many people out there who would tell you that renovating your property would be even riskier. So what do you do?

We’ll explore the options and methods in this article. If you’re currently struggling with this problem, we hope this helps drive you towards a decision.

Why are you unhappy with your home?

The first thing you should do is identify the problem you have. Without knowing specific reasons you’re not happy with your property, you will struggle to come up with decent solutions. Do you not have enough space? Do you have too much space? Do you not like the layout? Is there a weird smell? Do you hate your neighbours?

Whatever the reasons, you need to note them down. Otherwise, you may find that whatever action you take may not have solved the issue you had in the first place. Oh, and if the reason is that you hate your neighbours, you may find this article disappointing. We have no hints for neighbour disposal to offer you.

Have an extreme clean-out

All that clutter is giving you an inaccurate image of your home. A messy environment always looks smaller than it actually is. Having piles of clothes and boxes and miscellaneous items will make you feel cramped. So you need to pull up your sleeves and have an extreme clean-out!

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[Image courtesy of Hans/pixabay.com]

The aim here is to make your home look as bare-bones as possible. Imagine for a moment that you really are going to sell it. What would you do? You would make that home look as attractive as possible in order to get a good price and land a sale fast. You need to revert it back to a very basic state, one filled with potential.

Tour your home

Cleaned your home? Good. Now you need to go through every room in the house and assess it. Ideally, you would assess your home over the course of a year. This way you know exactly what happens in each room when there are external changes. These changes will include light, temperature and noise. They also include all the different types of weather

This will really help you get your finger on what might be bothering you. By re-evaluating your living spaces, you may find that you only need to make simple changes. Maybe you just need to rearrange the furniture. Or maybe you need new blinds to adapt to light changes. But maybe you’ll find that you still feel a bit cramped in these rooms. Maybe making extensive changes will be the right way to go. In any case, this clean-and-tour method will have helped you make your decision.

Photo from Flickr

Visit open houses

So, you’ve made up your mind. Either you’re renovating or you’re selling. Here’s a great idea: visit open homes. That may seem like something you’d only do if you’re looking to buy a new property. Not so.

By visiting a new and open property, you can get a good idea of what a professional renovation looks and feels like. The most effective way of going about this, if possible, is to visit open homes in your neighbourhood. This is because the houses here may be very similar. This will allow you to see what upgrades have done to homes that are similar in layout to your own.

It is, of course, also an excellent way of scoping out property you want to buy when you sell your home. If you’re not sure, or are definitely just looking at renovation, we recommend keeping it to open houses. Arranging a private visit to a property will just waste the time of the estate agent!

The blueprint

If you have the blueprints to your home, then there are other possibilities open to you. You can take blueprints to renovation and building stores and ask them for advice. If the store is particularly modern, they may even be able to give you a digital rendering of what your renovated rooms could look like.

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Photo from Visual Hunt

If you don’t have the blueprints for your home to hand, there will be ways to get them. Local councils are usually able to help. Previous owners of the property may also have them, or any building company that have worked on your home in the past.

Selling versus renovation: getting assistance

Selling can often seem like the easier way to deal with the whole thing. Getting the money for your current home and simply buying a brand new one is definitely an attractive solution.

Do remember that you’re not alone if you are thinking about renovating. Contractors or remodelers can give you practical tips. Websites like R.H. Homes are replete with suggestions and inspirational articles and guides.

Consider your commitments, career and social life

Moving home, of course, comes with its own unique stresses. If you move to a new home, there’s a chance you’ll have to change career, or that your child has to go to a new school. Your commute will change, as will your social life. If you’re heavily involved in your local community, then moving will take its toll on you and that community.  One of the main reasons people choose to renovate is so that they can avoid the need to move from their home permanently.

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Photo from Visual Hunt

Considering the costs

Buying a new home seems like the most expensive solution, right? Well, not necessarily. Remember that the cost of buying a new home will be offset significantly by the money you make from the sale of your current home. It also depends on how you go about the purchase. Say you pay in instalments for a new home. You could actually end up paying less monthly than you would for extensive renovations.

What you need to get is a cost estimate for renovation.  A contractor or remodeler can provide this. You may be looking at something small, or you could be looking at a waller-devastating structural change to your layout. And if the renovations are complex and require you to live somewhere else for a while, there’s that cost to consider too

So what do I do?

We can’t tell you that! If you research all of your options carefully, you should be able to come to the right answer in no time. Weigh the risks and benefits. Remember that the purpose of this is to increase the quality and enjoyment of your life. Best of luck to you!

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