Renovating a your condo is an excellent way to improve its overall style and functionality. Many homeowners are also choosing to incorporate eco-friendly strategies into their renovation efforts. By doing so, you may able to save energy and conserve water regularly. More than that, you may enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your living habits are having less of an impact on the environment. You may even inspire friends and neighbors to make similar changes themselves.
If you are planning to complete most or all of your eco-friendly upgrading projects on your own, here are some ways to do it. Of course, as with all condo renovation project, you need to make sure that anything you do is done within your HOA’s rules and regulations.
1. Upgrade Appliances
Upgrading your appliances to those that conserve energy and water is an excellent idea for your home renovation project, but can be costly. When you upgrade your appliances always check the energy star rating to make sure you get the most efficient model.
One simple, low-cost DIY project that many households can improve is the clothes dryer. Dryers often have longer hoses than they need, dragging out drying times unnecessarily and exposing the house to a fire hazard. So, you could try making the hose between the back of the dryer and the wall as short as possible. As for the angling, straight is the best, as any angles can encourage lint build-up and create a fire hazard.
2. Focus on Insulation
If you are living in an older condo, over the years your home’s insulation could have deteriorated or even slid down inside the walls. When these things occur, the insulation is less effective at maintaining an ideal climate inside the home. In addition, there are now superior insulation products available, such as spray-foam insulation, which can be applied without professional assistance. This type of insulation has superior benefits in comparison to many other options.
When you add a new layer of foam insulation into your walls and in your attic, you can bolster the energy efficiency of your home’s HVAC system throughout the year. A side benefit is that this type of insulation can also block exterior noises to improve the ambiance of your home.
Bonus tip: If you have radiator heating system, one super simple and cheap way to increase the energy efficiency of your radiators is to place a piece of heavy duty tinfoil between the wall and the radiator to reflect more heat back into the room.
3. Seal Windows and Doors
While climate-controlled air can seep out of your home through poorly insulated walls and ceilings, it can also escape your home through poorly sealed doors and windows. The seals surrounding doors and windows can easily deteriorate over time, and new seals should be placed around these features every couple of years.
With an older condo, it may be wise to replace the doors and windows. Modern styles of doors and windows may be more energy-efficient than older models. These home renovations are more costly and require more advanced DIY skills but they can dramatically improve energy costs and lower energy consumption.
4. Generate Your Own Electricity
Even when you take these steps to conserve energy, your home will still pull energy to power lights, appliances and more. If your home generates its own power, you can reduce your reliance on fossil fuel power. Solar panels are an excellent options to consider if you want to generate your own electricity. Furthermore, as of 2016, homeowners who opt for environmentally-friendly energy sources such as solar panels are rewarded with an increased tax credit of up to 30 % of the total costs, which is a great financial incentive to go down this road. With solar panels that impact the look of the outside of your condo, you need to check with your homeowner’s association before installing anything.
Also, installing solar panels is not an entirely DIY process. While some of the process can be done by homeowners, it is typically not recommended for several reasons:
- Connecting a solar power to the electrical grid without any prior knowledge can lead to serious injuries and death; furthermore, only certified installers are legally allowed to do so.
- Depending on the complexity of the system, as well as the location and the local codes and regulations, you will more often than not need your solar panel system certified by an expert.
Fortunately, there is a compromise. In the last years, several solar companies have released plug and play solar panels. Similar to other home appliances, plug and play solar panels are compatible with 120 V power outlets, so you obviously do not need a professional installer.
5. Conserve Water
The availability of fresh water is a top concern for environmentalists. Many people use far more water from the public supply than is necessary. Your first eco-friendly project is to make sure that any leaks, dripping faucets and running toilets are repaired promptly. When you renovate your home, you can easily incorporate water conservation features into your space. For example, low-flow toilets and showers can reduce water consumption without affecting your lifestyle and habits inside the home.
Another way to conserve water is to install rain water collection tanks. This water is perfect landscaping uses. But again, because tanks are outside your home, check with your homeowner’s association.
6. Use Green Materials
When renovating your condo, and selecting materials for your countertops, backsplash, flooring and other features, choose green materials. For example, a bamboo material for wood floors may be environmentally-friendly. This is because the rapid rate of growth of bamboo plants eliminates the concern about deforestation that is present in other materials. Remember that earth-friendly materials may also be recycled.
When you enjoy DIY projects, you can drastically decrease your home’s impact on the environment through your own time and efforts, and create a living environment that you can feel great about.
Our contributor, Vincent West has background in Engineering Design and growing experience in home improvement and DIY projects, Vince is part of the team behind www.ThePlumbingInfo.com. You can see more of Vince’s work on Twitter and Facebook.