Homeowners have more reason to be environmentally conscious in this wasteful world. As a generation of consumers, most are well-informed consumers. They are aware of their carbon footprint and, for the most part, they are aware that greener home options exist.
If you’re one of these conscious homeowners and you’ve got one or two room additions that you want to make cleaner and greener without breaking the bank, then keep reading. We’ve got three proven, practical ways you can make your new room additions eco-friendlier.
1. Flooring: Carpet Made of Recycled Materials or Tiles Made of Natural Substances
Most homeowners prefer carpets to bare floors mainly because of comfort and aesthetics. Plush carpets in deep colors or tasteful patterns can instantly turn any room from bare to bold, simple to stunning.
Unfortunately, carpets are not very eco-friendly. With the exception of wool and recycled materials, all carpets are petroleum-based, which means they are all chemically intensive and thus create hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of gallons of polluted water. What’s more, carpet cleaning is an extensive process that uses another couple dozen gallons of water and cleaning solutions. And it needs to be done at least several times a year.
Eco-Friendly Alternatives: Instead of carpets, opt for area rugs that can easily be shaken out and/or vacuumed on both sides. This will save gallons of water on cleaning. If you must have a carpet for your room additions, choose one that’s made of recycled materials or all-natural ones. These pieces may be a bit pricey, but the lack of intense chemicals means they’re definitely safer for your health (and definitely eco-friendlier).
You can also invest in natural flooring like bamboo tiles or cork tiles. If you’ve got the resources for it, real hardwood floors like oak or mahogany are both long-lived and very eco-friendly.
2. Furniture: Reclaimed Wood or Recycled Materials
Room additions become brighter and more personal with pieces of tasteful furniture and a smattering of aesthetic décor. Unfortunately, the process of making most furniture pieces cannot be considered very eco-friendly. In fact, a great deal of industrial pollution comes from the manufacturing of products from raw materials like iron and steel ore, lumber, gasoline, and other crude oil fuels.
And wouldn’t you know it; more than half of these raw materials are used to craft furniture.
Eco-Friendly Alternatives: There are now a handful of “green” furniture stores and manufacturers that use reclaimed wood to craft furniture and decoration pieces. Reclaimed wood is essentially recycled wood, as it’s basically excess lumber taken from disposal and reused to manufacture furniture.
Depending on the amount of wood available and the size/style of the fixture to be crafted, either a part of the product or the entire piece itself could be made of reclaimed wood.
3. Heating & Cooling: Ceiling Fans, Windows, and Insulation
States that suffer from dry and humid climate almost all year round know how unbearably hot the house can get—especially during summer. Once the heat starts rising, the knee-jerk reaction of almost every homeowner is to turn the air conditioning unit on to full blast—and keep it that way for the rest of the day.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have cities and states that experience all four seasons—and all four climate changes. When things aren’t hot and dry, they’re nippy and below freezing. Once winter creeps in, the reaction is pretty much the same; run to the heater and blast some hot air throughout the house.
Not only are both solutions not eco-friendly, they’re also very pricey. Any hardware, machine, or appliance running at maximum capacity for more than twelve hours a day is going to slurp energy down by the gallon. Your monthly utility bills are going to be through the roof. Even if you can afford to pay for it, paying upwards of $250 a month just to meet your heating and cooling needs isn’t sustainable.
Eco-Friendly Alternatives: Try installing a ceiling fan in the approximate center of your room additions and turning it on whenever you start up your A/C. The fan will help circulate the chilled air around your home. Let the A/C run for a few hours—maybe three or four—during the hottest part of the day (say, 11am to 2pm). After that, shut it off but keep the ceiling fan going. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that your room additions will stay nice and cool long after.
For heating, instead of keeping your unit running—which, by the way, is a potential fire hazard on top of being an energy guzzler—invest in quality insulation. Home insulation is so designed to keep cool temperatures in when it’s hot, and warm temperatures in when it’s cold. So if your room additions are getting nippy during the winter months, don’t keep the heater running in response. Turn it on when it’s coldest (perhaps at night) and let insulation do the rest.
Room additions are a great way to expand your living area without compromising the integrity of your home’s original floor plan. And if you’re generally trying to live a less wasteful, more eco-friendly life, finding greener alternatives is—thankfully—much easier to do now than it was twenty, thirty years ago.
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