3 tips for sustainable home renovations

June 19, 2015

Home renovation represents a significant investment and an opportunity to make your home more sustainable. Here are 3 suggestions for greener renovations that can help you save money and reduce energy and water usage.

3 tips for sustainable home renovations

1. Be a more efficient water user

There are plenty of inexpensive products on the market today that can help you significantly reduce your household water use.

  • Install water-efficient shower heads and taps and make sure you have dual-flush toilet tanks.
  • When you replace appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines, select models that offer maximum water- and energy-efficiency.
  • Look at the efficiency of your hot water equipment. Solar water heaters can be installed fairly easily.
  • Think about installing a rainwater tank to supply water for the garden. A large underground tank may not be an option, but there are many types of above-ground tanks that can be installed unobtrusively.
  • Consider further adaptations to your water supply, including using grey water for toilets and washing machines.

2. Be smarter about salvaging

While renovating, consider what you can salvage. With a little extra thought, many materials can have a new lease on life elsewhere.

  • Contact your local government authority, waste depot or recycling contractors to find out what can be reused.
  • Remember that a wide range of materials can be recycled, including aluminum, bricks, glass, concrete, gypsum plasterboard, paper, many plastics, steel and timber.
  • While renovations are in progress, use sorting boxes to separate recyclable materials such as wood, metal and electrical wires.
  • Save bricks, stones and timber offcuts for future projects.
  • Donate leftover paint to charities and community groups.
  • Keep extra roof tiles and ceramic or slate floor tiles to replace any that become damaged. You can also use them in other ways, such as for lawn edges.
  • Find other uses for surplus timber, including old flooring, window frames and beams.

3. Be on the alert for asbestos

Asbestos was widely used as a building material until the 1980s. Although no longer used, it remains a major hazard for renovators who remove it or disturb it while building. If breathed in, asbestos dust can cause fatal respiratory diseases.

  • Asbestos is most dangerous when broken up, as this allows fibres to become airborne. Therefore, always avoid cutting, sanding or drilling into boards that may contain asbestos.
  • If asbestos has to be removed, have it done by a specialist contractor who has the appropriate protective clothing.

Green living involves making changes in the way you live in order to have a positive impact on the environment. So the next time you are planning a home renovation, consider how you can do it in not only a cost-effective manner, but also a sustainable way.

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