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You might have heard the words “sustainable home improvements” but not understood exactly what it means. I don’t blame you, because “sustainable” is slowly losing its meaning to consumers; another “greenwashing” term that seems to have more relevancy as a marketing term than a technical definition.
When people think of a sustainable home, one of two images comes to mind: an off-grid mud hut, or a 2 million dollar Passive House. Although I love both of those options, there is a lot of in-between that doesn’t get a lot of air time. Creating a sustainable home is a journey, not a destination. Millions of homeowners are undertaking small, impactful changes to gradually make their home one that they can believe in.
I consider a sustainable home one that benefits your health, your wealth, and the planet. This broad definition covers everything from home comfort to energy efficiency, water conservation, and even resilient landscaping.
So how do you get started? I would suggest first asking yourself: what do you believe in? Is it a healthy home for your family? Also, is it a small-footprint home that lives lightly on the land? Is it a home that is super-efficient and airtight so you have next-to-no power bills? In this article, I’ll run through four “values” and give you some beginner-level and advanced home improvements you can make to satisfy these values.
Take a look at our guide on Everything You Need to Know About a Home Energy Audit
A lot of people don’t know that their indoor air could be much more polluted than the air outside. When you consider how much time we spend in our homes, that’s pretty scary. Allergens and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) make us wheezy, tired and even cause cancer. VOCs are found in carpets, furniture, paint, and even bedding. That “new paint smell” gives people headaches. Here are some things you can do to address this problem.
They say that water will be the new oil. Water scarcity is already the cause of mass migrations and wars. With droughts becoming more common in highly populated areas, we need to seriously adjust how we use water. If you’re like me and live in Canada, it’s easy to forget that water is a scarce resource in many parts of the world. Follow some of these tips to reduce your water usage, and even reduce your dependency on municipal water systems.
Making energy efficiency upgrades for your home lowers your monthly bills, adds value to your property, and decreases your carbon footprint. Some homes are SO efficient that they have no power bills at all, and actually generate power to sell back to the grid. Many folks think the first step is to buy solar panels, but honestly, that should be the final step in your journey. First, start by making your home more air-tight to reduce how much heating and cooling you need.
No, you’re not a bad environmentalist if you like to be comfortable. Often comfort and efficiency go hand-in-hand since an airtight home is both cozy and lighter on the planet. Try some of these projects to improve your home’s comfort without dramatically increasing your carbon footprint.
If you’ve read this far, I’m going to assume you’ve caught the bug. There is so much to learn in the space of sustainable home improvement, and luckily there is an abundance of information online and communities for you to join. It’s your freedom and responsibility to educate yourself on what goes into your home. The choices you make affect your wealth, your health, and the future of the planet. Is your home one that you can believe in?